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The Early Bird’s Guide to Applying for Dream Internships

The year may be young, but it’s never too soon to apply for your dream internship! Here are 6 tips to help you get a head start on securing your dream gig.

Internship experience can help you stand out in the postgrad job market—not to mention provide you with vocational and leadership experience that can help you with most anything in life. And while it may seem early to apply, most companies start receiving applications from students as soon as October. Applying early for internship opportunities could increase your chances of getting accepted and gives you more time to apply to multiple companies or organizations. What’s more, getting a head start could actually help calm your nerves when it comes to your long-term career goals. Here are 6 tips to help you score your dream internship.

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1. Dream your dreams

When it comes to applying for internships, it’s important to have a clear idea of what you want. Are you looking for college credit? Do you want to expand your industry knowledge and network? Do you know which industry you’d like to learn more about? Having an idea of your postgrad plans can help you lock in the perfect internship.

To begin, think about why you want the opportunity and how you can best maximize your experience. Once you determine that, you can start thinking big.

2. Do the research

Make a list of companies or organizations you might want to work for, then go to their websites and see what opportunities they offer. Make sure you do your research. For example, ask yourself if you want to work for the company. And in what department. Knowing the types of positions offered in your field of interest will prepare you for what to look for and help you compare the benefits of each company or organization.

Check out job search websites like Indeed.com to look for possible internships in your area. You can also look on the UCSB website to see if any openings are listed.

3. Use your network.

Ask faculty: You can ask professors whether they’ll be needing any research help soon or during the summer. Asking them early on in the year implies that you’re interested in their work. Make sure to also ask your TAs for advice in your search.

Talk to your friends: Ask them if they’ve had any internship experience and see if they can help direct or refer you to anyone in the industry of your choice.

4. Get connected.

In an increasingly interconnected world, it’s important to get your name out there and build up an online presence. Make a professional network profile on a site like LinkedIn, where you can upload your resume and connect with professionals or university alumni in your future field. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask them for advice, resources, or insight. You can also make a job search account to receive notifications for internship opportunities and updates.

5. Be persistent.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by impending deadlines and applicant competition. The important thing is to stay informed and take strategic, tangible steps for long-term success. Don’t be discouraged if you feel like you’re behind the curve; everyone has to start somewhere! Apply for anything that might interest you and make sure to follow up with employers (usually one or two weeks after you apply) to see if they need any other information from you. This will show them that you’re serious about the position and that you’re a proactive candidate.

6. Apply, apply, apply.

It’s better to give it your best shot and apply to multiple places than miss out on opportunities and wonder “what if” later. Apply to your dream internship, and then apply for some more that may interest you. You might wind up with several opportunities to choose from.

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