7 tips to land an internship
Preparation, diligence and awareness will maximize your chances of landing a great opportunity.
By Terra Etkins-Fenderson
Terra Etkins-Fenderson is pursuing a bachelor's degree in public relations, advertising and applied communications by taking classes both in person and online as she works a fulltime hospitality job and assists with copywriting at FIU Online. From peers, advisors and even those who intern at the hotel property where she serves as a front desk clerk on the overnight shift, Etkins-Fenderson has learned what it takes to land a plum internship. She has gathered those tips for anyone thinking about securing such a position in order to gain experience and learn from industry professionals.
1. Start early
It’s a good idea to start applying and looking into internships early in your time as a student. Although internship season is year-round, companies begin the competitive application process three to five months before the start of each semester. There are many internship programs that accept freshman and sophomore students. Some schools require internships. For example, at the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management all students are required to work and complete a minimum of 500 hours of work/internship experience, and their career center helps students find these opportunities.
Matthew Varela, who is pursuing a B.S. in hospitality management, enjoyed his recent internship with Disney World in Orlando. He took online classes during that time to stay up with his studies. Back in Miami, Varela is now interning at the Loews Coral Gables Hotel. He emphasized that research was key to landing two great experiences.
2. Be ready
It’s important to keep your résumé on hand and updated, so that you are always prepared when opportunities appear. Remember the “Five P’s”: proper preparation prevents poor performance. Rose Chusid, who is pursuing her bachelor’s and M.S. in Hospitality Management 4+1 program, stayed on the lookout, found an opportunity and moved quickly on a competitive internship with Bacardi.
“I heard about this internship through an Instagram post from the Bacardi Center of Excellence, which is a pillar of the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management,” she says. “They were showcasing three different internships working with Bacardi and the Patrón internship jumped out at me.”
3. Tap into career center resources
The office of Career and Talent Development (CTD) career advisors and specialists prioritize making student dreams a reality. The CTD team provides virtual and in-person help with résumé writing and offers mock interviews sessions and other forms of professional development. The career centers in the College of Business and Chaplin School provide career services for their students. To see the full scope of the CTD’s offerings, visit the center online and consider making an appointment.
4. Use networking tools
Handshake.com is FIU’s one-stop shop for helping students launch their professional careers. You also can use LinkedIn to find the right job or internship, connect and strengthen professional relationships and gain some insights to help you succeed in your career search. Both Handshake and LinkedIn offer internship job boards tailored to individual interests and feature accomplished alumni in specific fields. Update your profiles on LinkedIn and Handshake to increase your opportunities for internships, employment and networking.
5. Attend virtual and in-person fairs
CTD’s all majors and technical career fairs offer access to as many as 70 employers, all of whom have active opportunities listed on Handshake. The virtual career fairs allow students to sign up for sessions with employers without the hassle of long lines. FIU every semester hosts career fairs and internship week in both virtual and in-person formats that bring together over 130 employers from a wide list of industries. Similarly, the College of Business and the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management Career Centers host onsite and virtual fairs.
6. Google alerts
Set up Google alerts for internships that relate to your professional goals. This method allows you to be proactive and let the service fetch internships that align with your interests instead of spending excessive time searching.
7. Talk to your advisor
College-level career specialists and advisors have the inside scoop on professional careers. They send mass emails of opportunities, internships and scholarships throughout the semester. Having a professional relationship with career professionals can help you get ahead of what’s coming.
There are several ways to find internships and employment. These seven tips should help you start the process to gain the experience you will need. Talk to your advisor, network and stay connected.