Seven Things To Do Right Now If You Want A Summer Internship

Savvy advice to help you land the ideal internship opportunity

A few weeks into the New Year and campuses everywhere are now back into full gear. As students make their way through another academic semester, many are already thinking about how they’ll spend their summer.

For business school undergrads especially, the time to start planning for a summer internship is now. Make that right now! Top business schools are reporting an unprecedented shift in summer internship recruiting whereby recruiters are interviewing and making offers as early as the fall semester.

“Many of the big financial firms, investments banks, tax and accounting firms actually switched their internship recruiting to late October and November of the fall semester,” says Trudy Steinfeld, vice president of NYU’s Wasserman Center for Career Development. “A lot of those jobs are already gone and it’s shocking.”

Barbara Hewitt, a senior associate director who manages Wharton’s undergrads for the University of Pennsylvania’s Career Office, reaffirms this trend. After 19 years in the career services office, she says what’s normally a completely crazy time (the first few days back from winter break) is, instead, “Eerily quiet.”

The reason: many business school students are already employed for the summer of 2017. While this trend is certainly good enough reason to put some pep in your step if you have yet to secure a summer position, Steinfeld says it isn’t cause for panic.

The financial sector may be turning summer recruiting on its head, “but not everyone plays that way,” says Hewitt. “Retail organizations, smaller accounting firms, law firms looking for paralegal interns, startups, nonprofits; a lot of them are still sticking with spring.”

So if you’re just getting started, here are seven things to do in order to land summer intern work.

Don’t Panic

Sure, others may have their summer work plans squared away, but all is not lost. And while you’ll certainly have to navigate a fiercely competitive landscape, there are still opportunities that are left.

With that being said, run–don’t walk–to your school’s career office. If you’re not familiar with the staff and resources that are available there, it’s time to get acquainted. While students were away on break, a lot of the staff were working the beat, talking to employers, and uncovering opportunities that are out there for their students.

The staff is also there to help get your resume in tip top shape. Not just showcasing relevant coursework and experience, but incorporating key terms and phrases that will resonate within application tracking systems. “If a student’s resume isn’t resonating with key search terms, they won’t get selected even as smart as they are,” says Steinfeld.

A Moment of Reflection

Somewhere in between your sprint to the career office and when you actually start applying for positions, it’s a good idea to pause for reflection. It may sound melodramatic, but Barbara Hewitt at Wharton says this introspective piece is one of the first places students should start. Dedicate some research and exploration into where you’d like to be, talk to your network of faculty, staff, alumni, and family to get a sense of what might be a good fit for you, she says. Then ask yourself if you’ve already accumulated the necessary skills. There are also practical details to consider such as where you’ll live and whether housing will be available and affordable for you.

Think Deadlines

If you’re not one of the students who has already locked in a summer position, the clock is ticking. Organizations that are maintaining a more traditional recruiting regimen are typically somewhere in the February range for application deadlines. True, there are many that go beyond February (there are even some that go as late as May after the semester has already ended), but the point is to prepare yourself for deadlines that may be quickly approaching.

Start Applying

At most of the on-campus career services centers, you’ll find online job systems. For the most part, they’re nearly identical in what they offer and how they serve up job listings. This should be your first stop when you’re ready to put your search plan into action. Essentially, the job postings found here are warm leads right at your fingertips. Alumni will post there and your career development staff members have been talking directly to the employers.

Next, you can widen your net by combing through industry-specific job boards such as those at the American Marketing Association or job portals that are geographically based. Aggregators such as also come in handy for searching industry-specific opportunities or ones that are based on location.

Network Always

While you’re applying don’t forget to work your network! Let those in your professional and social circles know that you’re actively looking and tell them specifically what you’re looking for.

Be Prepared For Anything

It’s 2017 and what that means is interviewing for jobs can take on many different formats. We’re living in a time where distance interviewing via video conference is a norm. Take Goldman Sachs, for instance, says Hewitt. “They did no on-campus recruiting for finance this year. The students they liked got a link to do an asynchronous interview, then were called for an in-person interview in New York.”

Steinfeld suggests students be prepared for any type of interview situation: in person, over Skype, seated at a table over food, anything. “We see everything from pre-taped like HireVu to three different people in three different parts of the country while the student is in his or her dorm room, apartment, or in our office taking questions from all three. How do you make that good impression? You can’t be in your dorm room in your pajamas.”

Students should get comfortable with these new formats. Work on your self awareness and how you come across on a video screen. Also, don’t forget to tidy up that dorm room if you find yourself meeting a potential employer for the first time via video conference.

Take The Limits Off

Finally, NYU’s Trudy Steinfeld offers students what may be the best advice and that is to remain flexible. “The real issue is there’s not enough to go around if you limit yourself to just the internship title. You have to think more broadly about it.”

Her advice to students is to look at, and be open to, all opportunities for summer work even if they don’t have the title “internship” attached to them. “There are a lot of summer work opportunities that don’t have the title ‘internship.’ Here, we define it as summer or part-time work that is career-related and builds skills and competencies on your resume. It may not be called an internship, but you’re working on skill development, exposure, mentorship. That’s what’s most important.”


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