Don’t let the weather fool you. It might feel like it’s 30 below zero outside, but for those in charge of hiring summer interns, winter is practically over.
The long break is going to be a crucial time to get your ducks in a row and start scoping the internships you want to land over the summer. Here’s a brief checklist of what you’ll want to accomplish before you swipe back into the dorms.
1. Update your resume(s). The plural is pretty important. Not all internships you apply to will have the same roles and requirements, so your resume is going to have to flexible to give you a stronger chance of landing the position. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and stress later by creating about three versions of your resume right now, each tailored to highlight different aspects of your experience, skills and education. They don’t have to be complete rewrites, but you’ll want to at least have original mission statements for each and make sure the job duties and skills most relevant to each possible internship type are listed prominently.
2. Spiff up your business wardrobe. After-holiday sales are a great chance to upgrade your work closet on the cheap and keep prepared in the event of an early interview – especially if you recently collected some department store gift cards. Check out some of the major retailers’ websites or hit the mall after the holiday mayhem passes.
3. Contact the employers at the top of your list. Don’t wait until your dream internship appears on a job board. By then, it’s open to many times the competition. Send e-mails to the HR staff of organizations you want to target, stating your goals for the summer and asking to be notified if any relevant positions crop up. Of course, you can’t rely on human resources to warn you early, but expressing your interest ahead of the pack should make your dedication stand out. It may even lead to an informational interview, which gives you a strong opportunity to boost your standing.
4. Look into other cities or university-affiliated internship programs. If you want a change of scenery next summer,you’ll need to be actively planning for it right now. That’s especially true if you’d like to intern abroad,because passports, housing and travel arrangements need to be secured months in advance. But even if you’re thinking of interning in an American city like New York or Washington, D.C., it’s important to begin researching transportation options, cost-of-living and apartments (if your college doesn’t arrange them).
5. Build a portfolio website (if applicable). This doesn’t apply to everyone, but for those pursuing fields in which work samples are easily communicated online, a clean and effective website can do wonders for your summer internship bid. If you want a web design job, it’s probably best to code your own from scratch. Otherwise, there are a number of affordable hosting options on the net that include effective, customizable portfolio templates. Check out Carbonmade and Dripbook for visual portfolios, or this (oldie-but-a-goodie) blog post with tons of other options, including themes compatible with WordPress.