How to Find a Summer Internship: A Quick Guide

Summer is coming. So are internship opportunities that will help you start your career.

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

Summer internships

Summer internships allow current students and recent graduates a way to gain valuable work and life experience. Among the many advantages of internships, you get a chance to make a short-term commitment to find out if your chosen career path is right for you, you gain an edge for future employment, and it boosts your networking opportunities.

So, how do you find the summer internship that’s right for you? How do you even know where to look?

We’ve put together a handy guide to answer all your questions and get you started on a fantastic career adventure.

Tips for finding a summer internship

It takes time, effort and planning ahead to get the most out of your summer internship. Here are 10 helpful tips to find and apply for the best opportunities.

1. Consider your options

Before you can find the perfect summer internship, consider what you want and need from the experience. Do you want one role for the whole summer, or multiple shorter internships to explore different jobs? Do you want a travel experience along with work experience? Is it more important to work with a team, or get mentorship from an executive?

An internship can be a valuable steppingstone to starting your career. Make a list of the companies and roles that would provide relevant work experience and add value to your résumé. Include your dream job scenarios, but don’t rule out other opportunities to increase your skillset.

2. Start early

Hiring managers can receive hundreds — even thousands — of internship applications each year. One of the easiest ways to beat your competition is to get an early start.

Employers will see your application with fresh eyes before they become overwhelmed by the volume of requests. Deadlines are crucial, so applying early ensures you won’t accidentally miss the cutoff, and there’s a cushion of time in case of any technical snafus.

3. Craft a compelling résumé and cover letter

Whether you’re applying to a specific internship posting or contacting a company to inquire about existing or potential programs, you’ll need an effective résumé. Consider a skills-based résumé to highlight your transferable skills from limited or unrelated work experience.

Show you care by doing the research and tailoring your cover letter to each position you apply for. Make it immediately clear that you’re looking for an internship so you won’t get lost in the pile of applications.

4. Check with all your personal contacts

Use every advantage you have to land a summer internship. Let family and friends know what type of role you’re looking for.

Having a personal contact at a firm means you can find out when they’re hiring and the kind of interns they’re looking for, and you’ll have a solid reference. Ask for help even if no one you know works in your preferred industry; they may know someone who does.

5. Visit local employers

You can investigate your internship options before you’ve even started your university classes. Research opportunities with employers in the city or town where you’ll be spending your summers. Consider visiting in person, particularly if it’s a smaller company. With luck, you may get to speak the person who runs the program, and you’ll have an early chance to make a good impression.

6. Consult your university careers service

Visit your college or university careers service to take advantage of their expertise. Many institutions have their own job boards as well as special internship arrangements with area companies.

Make an appointment with a careers advisor, and speak with your academic advisor as well. Both can guide you to relevant internship opportunities for your degree and skillset.

7. Try networking for internships

Attend campus and local social events, lectures, meet-and-greets with business leaders, and other subject-specific activities. Mingling with fellow students, experts and potential mentors can help you find out about internship opportunities, possibly before those postings go up online. It can also introduce you to people who may be able to recommend you to an open position, or advise you on how to prepare for the interview process.

8. Enlist a recruiting agency

It’s a bit more unconventional to hire a headhunter for internships, but it is an option. Find employment agencies that work with companies in your industry and see if they can help you get an internship interview. Many also offer assistance with crafting the perfect résumé to help you land that internship.

9. Be persistent

Finding the right internship takes time and effort. While you may have a dream position in mind, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Apply to multiple internship opportunities. Unless they have specific instructions not to, contact the hiring manager if you have questions about the application process. It’s better to get it right the first time, and a cordial advance email exchange can help you make a good impression.

Consider sending a professional follow-up email after the interview process or if you haven’t heard back in the time they designated. Be persistent but not intrusive; you want to show enthusiasm for the position without irritating them with a dozen unsolicited emails.

10. Use online tools

Current students and recent grads have a vast array of online resources to help find an internship. Online tools can not only help you locate job postings, but also provide you with the perfect way to research the companies you want to work for. Their internship program pages may list very specific instructions on applications, deadlines, how to prep for interviews, and even what outfit to wear.

Government and career sites can also help you learn about how internships should be run in your country. US and UK internships have different laws about compensation, for example.

Where to find summer internships

So, you’ve figured out what you want, done your research and reached out to all your contacts. What’s next? We’ve compiled a handy list of the best places to find summer internships. You can choose the options that suit your industry best or try a combination to discover every possible opportunity.

Job boards

Online job boards are a great way to search for internships in the industry and area you’re looking for. Start well in advance of the year you’ll be applying to see the range of companies offering internships and what kind of opportunities and benefits you should expect.

Options include:

  • CareerAddict — Our very own job search allows you to find internship opportunities all around the world. Try a keyword search like “accounting intern” to find the latest postings, and filter by location as well.
  • Glassdoor — Research the companies you’re interested in, and get tips from their former interns on the work, culture and interview questions.
  • Indeed — The keyword search form includes suggestions like “internship summer 2022” to get you thousands of leads on available positions.
  • Monster — Select the site specific to your country from a dropdown menu to find the most relevant results.
  • SimplyHired — A fantastic resource for internships with pages of results just for your local area alone.

Internship websites

It can take some effort to wade through the results, but a keyword internet search can help you find some very focused internship websites. If you’re still exploring a variety of options, however, the following internship sites can help you find the perfect fit.

  • Chegg Internships – Search for internships across the US in over 40 categories, including art, business, engineering and journalism.
  • City Internships — The site offers elite internship programs in major cities in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Australia.
  • Idealist — As the name implies, socially conscious students can search for internships at nonprofits as well as volunteering opportunities around the globe.
  • Internwise — Search UK internships by keyword, industry and internship period, and filter by full- and part-time positions.
  • StudentJob — Use the keyword search or select the “Internship” tab to browse available opportunities in the UK and other European countries.

Job fairs

Often, your university will host job fairs, but watch local arenas and event centers as well. Job fairs allow you to meet directly with companies that offer internships and graduate programs and make contacts that could help you on your career path. Interacting with other students interested in the same companies can also offer learning and networking benefits.

Social media

While older workers have yet to catch on, a whopping 86% of jobseekers in the first 10 years of their careers use social media to find work. It’s just as useful for getting leads on internships. Follow your favorite companies, job boards and internship sites on these four social media sites:

  • Facebook — Search for general or industry-specific industry groups to join for the latest postings. The largest public groups have thousands of members and multiple entries per day.
  • Instagram — Check out the hashtag #internships and you’ll find a wealth of recently posted opportunities from companies like Tesla, DreamWorks, HP and even NASA.
  • LinkedIn — Designed specifically for connecting jobseekers and employers, LinkedIn offers both job search and networking opportunities for summer internship leads.
  • Twitter — The constant flow of tweets makes the #internships tag a little less succinct than Instagram’s but selecting the “Latest” tab on search gets you the most up-to-the-minute postings.

Company websites

Campus events and job fairs can offer a lot of opportunities for common career paths like business and marketing. If you’re looking for something in more of a niche subject, you may have to research individual companies in your industry.

Check their websites to see if they offer summer internships. If no information is available, find a link to HR or the hiring manager and contact them directly to inquire. If you’re a great fit for the company, they may even create an internship opportunity for you.

Companies that offer summer internships

Whatever industry you hope to thrive in, there are a multitude of large, successful companies that offer summer internships. Their programs can include executive mentorship, travel programs, volunteering and social events, networking, scholarships, and even a competitive salary.

Most companies want applications around September for the following summer, but this can vary. The process can be complex, and there are often requirements like full-time enrolment in university coursework, age limits, and solid academic achievement. You’ll also need to brush up on your interview skills.

Some great companies that offer summer internships include:

  • Amazon — One of the top three largest companies in the world has internships available globally, with many US opportunities at the Seattle headquarters. Bachelor’s, Master’s, MBA and PhD students can apply.
  • American Airlines — AA offers summer internships in sales and marketing, finance, supply chain, cargo, and more. Successful candidates work full time, get paid and earn travel perks.
  • Apple — Summer interns become part of the team, working on existing projects in hardware, software or design. Campus co-op programs during the academic year are also available.
  • Deloitte — The financial juggernaut has a vast array of international internships, including five in Ireland alone. Deloitte US offers internships with scholarship opportunities for university freshmen all the way to advanced degree students.
  • Ford Motor Company — University and master’s degree students can become part of an employment system that begins with a 10- to 12-week summer internship, continues with graduate programs, and then potential employment.
  • Google — Everyone’s favorite search engine has a massive internship program, with 12- to 14-week courses available around the globe, in all aspects of engineering and technology.
  • KPMG — Accounting students dream of working at international firm KPMG, and 8-week internships are a way in. Interns can work in business taxes, marketing, internal audits, data analytics, and more.
  • Vogue — The luxury fashion magazine welcomes students of all backgrounds to learn the industry. Internships range from one to six weeks and conclude with a published piece.

Key takeaways

There are a lot of ways to find a summer internship, and all this information can seem a bit overwhelming. Before you take that first step toward your future career, let’s review a few key points about the process:

  • It’s never too early to start. Researching companies and internship programs well in advance helps you refine your criteria, learn what’s available, and pounce on any opportunity that comes your way.
  • Use every option available. Don’t just depend on university job fairs or one recommendation from a family friend. Utilize every tool at your disposal, whether it’s networking, getting help from a career advisor, scanning job boards or using every facet of social media.
  • Be diligent. Pay attention to each specific requirement companies have for their internship process. Send out multiple applications. Follow up with hiring managers.

Have you found the perfect internship using any of these steps? Have extra insight, tips, or a funny story to share? Join the discussion below and let our readers know!