Apply Today, Intern This Summer
Published: March 2019
People often write in asking about timelines.
“Have I missed the bus on this year’s internships?” they want to know. Or: “If I apply too much in advance, do I risk employers forgetting about my application when the time comes to, you know, actually hire someone?”
So. Imagine there’s a million dollars just sitting out on a table somewhere. There’s no door and no one’s guarding the cash. When do you think is the best time to grab your keys and go get it?
The best answer - much like the best time - is always “Now!”
Having said that, hiring interns, just like any other type of hiring, is often cyclical. In their 2017 Internship & Co-op Survey Report, the National Association of Colleges and Employers states: “On average, employers began the recruiting process for interns eight months in advance of their internship program’s start date.” Kicking off in autumn of the previous year, the summer internships application season runs all the way up to late May, with the heaviest volume of applications typically going out between late February and early April. Didn’t we say ‘now’ was the best time?
And while summer may seem too far away (thanks but no thanks, snowy days!), here’s why it makes sense to get cracking on those applications right away:
1. Early deadlines
Hate to break it to you but if you were hoping to intern at a government organization or a financial powerhouse, you’re probably out of luck for 2019. Due to intense competition and extensive background checks, those were the very first opportunities to leave town, some as early as October/ November last year. If you have your heart set, though, dally no further. Jump right into these finance internship opportunities. Or research requirements for roles with defense contractors and in sectors such as manufacturing. It’s very probable they will be back for fresh talent in 2020…and guess what? This time, you’ll be ready and waiting.
2. Choices, choices
Your options take a serious hit as the days go by. To maximize your chances, apply to as many relevant internships as possible. Set aside time each night to focus on one or two applications. Research each company and fine-tune your application to something that will knock their socks off (unless they are the moccasins kind of folks which, of course, you’d know if you research them well enough!)
3. Room to network
In an ideal world, you’d connect with friends who interned in the sector/ companies you’re targeting and grab some tips and contacts from them. What they’re looking for, whom to approach, that sort of thing. Only after gathering this information would you go forth and apply.
Now that it’s already March, let’s reshuffle this order. First, focus on getting those applications out the door. The sooner you do that, the quicker you can get to the networking stage where you will focus on building connections at the companies you already applied to, reach out to those that didn’t list an opportunity but still are among your ‘Most Desired’, talk to friends and strangers (but mostly friends!) and make it widely known that you’re looking out.
4. Catch the last bus
As their summer intern hiring spots start filling up, many large employers will stop considering applications sometime between April and the beginning of May. But needs can change quickly at any organization, so it’s always worthwhile to keep looking. Maybe add smaller employers to your list as April turns to May, maybe change your focus to landing a role in a field adjacent to your core area of interest, maybe pursue internships with less traditional dates and hours (working weekends or late evenings, perhaps?)
All this is to say: get cracking. It is time.
“2017 Internship & Co-op Survey Report.” National Association of Colleges and Employers