Internships have become increasingly important for college students both as a means of earning money and as a means for building experience. Smart college students take the time to seek out an internship during the summer to better prepare for their future careers. Contacts, money and work experience are all potential benefits. For best results in finding a summer internship, you need to maximize your chances of success on each application and rely on your number of applications to carry you through the obstacles.

Setting the Right Criteria

Begin by determining what kind of summer internship you want and what kind of summer internship you are willing to accept. For example, if you want to become an investment broker, then your obvious choice for internship opportunities lies in brokerage firms and investment banks. However, you might also be willing to accept internships with other businesses involved in the finance industry because the experience from those internships can still propel you towards your goal. Take care when choosing your goal and how far you are willing to wander from your goal. The size of the net you cast has an enormous affect on the success of your search efforts.

Finding Open Positions

You can find internship opportunities using a number of methods. The first is to go through a list of acceptable businesses near where you plan to live during the summer and then check them one by one for internship opportunities. However, this search method is slow and cumbersome, meaning you should take advantage of internship search services available either through the Internet or the career services of your university whenever possible. Don't be afraid to contact potential employers directly to ask about internship opportunities even if none are listed because you can sometimes change an employer's mind if you are persuasive. If you have networked with people in the right industries, they can also give you leads about potential internship opportunities where they work.

Applying For the Internship

The first thing to keep in mind when you are applying for summer internships is not to lose heart and give up trying. You will almost certainly encounter failure at some point during the process, but one failure is not an excuse to give up on future attempts. For the best chances of success with each application, you should balance speed and preparedness. You must act promptly on internship opportunities and respond quickly to any leads to demonstrate that you are a person with dedication. However, you must not slip up in your haste because any sloppiness demonstrates your inadequacy in the eyes of your potential employer.

Sealing the Deal

Prepare well for an interview by learning what you can about the business and its operations. Use the time during the interview itself to ask relevant questions about the actual experience of being an intern and your responsibilities at the business if you are chosen. This demonstrates you are prepared and interested in the business. If you are asked during the interview about when you are ready to start, be prepared to give a firm answer.

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  • If you are convincing a business to create an internship for you, working for free will increase your odds of success dramatically. While it is true that underselling yourself is not good in the professional world, as an intern you are expected to value the experience more than the paycheck. It is much more difficult to convince a business to take on an a student with no degree for a position that does not exist, and then to pay you for the favor.


  • DO NOT HARASS!!! You are attempting to build not only experience, but a professional reputation. If you harass a business about a position, they will likely want nothing to do with you. If you become truly obnoxious, they may even tell other businesses about you.

About the Author

Alan Li started writing in 2008 and has seen his work published in newsletters written for the Cecil Street Community Centre in Toronto. He is a graduate of the finance program at the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Commerce and has additional accreditation from the Canadian Securities Institute.