During my time at FIT I have had the pleasure of interning for several great companies! A lot of people coming to FIT have questions about how the whole process works, so I thought I would write some blog posts on how FIT can help you start your career while you are still in college.
When Should You Start Interning?
I would recommend completing at least one semester of college before applying. This gives you experience in your chosen major before you jump into a company. While internships are a learning experience, they are better for learning about industry and office applications of your education, not to learn the nuts and bolts of your field. FIT students start in their major-related classes from day one, which gives them a head start to learn as many of the basics before they begin interning!
Looking for an Internship
I have gotten internships all sorts of ways, from cold-calling companies by emailing a copy of my resume, to the FIT Career and Internship Database, to LinkedIn, to a referral from a friend. Keep an open mind, your first internship will likely be a smaller company and not a big brand name! This gives you the chance to refine your internship chops before growing into a bigger company. Also, smaller companies give you a wider range of tasks, which can help you decide what area your might like most.
The Application Process
When it comes time to apply, put your best foot forward! Fill out the application as wholly and truthfully as you can, and make sure to proofread everything. Use your school email, and make sure to check it frequently. If you get a message from a company, you want to reply as soon as possible!
The Waiting Game
When you apply, it’s likely you won’t hear anything back right away, or ever. Don’t take it personally! Companies get many many applications for each position, and they have to sift through everything. You might have a sparkling resume, but they might be looking for someone who is focused on a different area. I personally have applied for more internships than I can count, and only a few have panned out.
Relax, and put your best foot forward by being on time, dressed appropriately, with a few questions ready to go. Sometimes all the questions you have will be answered during the interview, but if they ask if you have any, enquire about the interviewer- why do they like working for the company? What do they enjoy about their job? Interviews are just as much an analysis of you as a potential employee as it is a chance for you to assess whether or not this is a place where you are willing to spend 10-20 hours a week.
Send a quick thank you note (I usually just sent an email expressing gratitude that they took time out of their day to speak with me) and hang tight. The internship application process generally has a lot of waiting time. People are busy, and while it might seem like they forgot about you, they might also be speaking to other candidates as well or have a big deadline approaching. If it has been over three weeks, consider following up with a polite inquiry if they have chosen a candidate yet. Even if you do go through several rounds of interviews, there is no guarantee they will let you know if you did not get the internship. The important thing to remember that for every job interview you go on, you get better at being interviewed and more confident.
Overall, persistence in applying for internships, patience with the review and interview process, and peace with the results will get you far. Like I said, I didn’t apply for four internships and get all four. Along the way there were many many failed interviews and ignored applications. Never take it personally!