Taking on an internship is an amazing way to kickstart your career before leaving college. You’ll expand your skillset, gain hands-on experience, and maybe even get your foot in the door for a full-time job prospect after you graduate. But there’s a lot you’ll need to know before you begin applying.


interns-wantedSearching for and landing an internship is challenging no matter how many times you undertake the task. As a first-time intern, preparation is the key to success. This involves putting together your resume and hiring materials, researching where you’d like to intern, familiarizing yourself with rules and deadlines, and managing your expectations.


The State of the Internship,” a new report compiled by InternMatch, an online platform that helps students find internships and companies hire talented students, reveals a several trends first-time intern should take note of as they prepare for their internship.


“As an intern, there’s a lot you need to know prior to starting your internship search and accepting an offer,” said Nathan Parcells, Chief Marketing Officer at InternMatch. “This report will set students up to get hired faster at the best internship for their needs.”


Use these five tips to help you prepare and succeed in your first internship:


1. Begin applying early.

With 38 percent of big companies recruiting interns more than a year in advance, you’re likely to miss out on several of great opportunities if you’re not actively searching and applying. If you’re looking to take on a summer internship, consider beginning your search in January or February. It’s been reported that 33 percent of students start looking for an internship more than three months in advance.


2. Use your network.

A simple Google search and job boards will definitely set you up for success, but it’s important to know that 61 percent of students used their personal networks to nab their internships. There’s a lot of power in tapping into who you know and also expanding your professional network to increase your chances of learning about an opportunity. It’s also in your best interest to use the connections you’ve made at your university. Nearly 38 percent of students used their university network — this includes college career centers and professors — to find their internship.


3. Showcase your diversity.

Only 10 percent of companies see their internship programs as being highly diverse. When applying for your internship, make a case for your unique background. Display the fresh perspective you can bring to your potential employer in your cover letter, resume, and during your interview.


4. Keep an eye out for more flexible opportunities.

If you’re juggling a busy schedule, taking on an internship may be a challenge. Around 62 percent of companies allow employees to work from home or a coffee shop at least one day a week (workshifting.com), however this may not apply to the interns. Consider seeking out virtual internships or other more flexible opportunities to meet your needs. You may even consider speaking directly with your potential employer about incorporating a more flexible aspect to the opportunity.


5. Don’t settle for just one internship.

Did you know 59.3 percent of students complete multiple internships? The more experience you have the more likely you will get hired after you graduate. Try to take on as many learning experiences as possible prior to applying for entry-level job opportunities. This will keep you competitive, expand your resume, and increase your connections.


Keep these tips in mind as you begin to prepare for taking on your first internship. Good luck on your search!


What are some things you’re doing to prepare to land an internship?