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Career Corner
Personal Coach: 5 Steps to Land an Internship

Cecile Peterkin -- Competition for internships can be heavy. From starting your search early to following up on an offer, here's advice to help you gain that critical internship experience for your résumé.

If you have plans to enter an internship program, ideally you should start planning at the end of the previous year. You really can’t afford to apply for an internship when the deadline is just a few weeks away. Keep in mind that there are many other students competing for the internship positions, so you’ve got to be among the first out there to send an application.

Let me give you a 5-step guide to getting an internship:

Step 1: Evaluate and make a plan

Whether it is with the help of your school career counselor or just on your own, it is important that you identify the important skills and experiences that an internship program can provide. You should also take into consideration the demographic aspect of your plan. Then, determine when you can start an internship, taking into account your own commitments and classes in college. In order for you to decide what internship opportunities you should consider, you should be able to identify your areas of interest.

Step 2: Explore your options

The next important step is to explore all your options. You can seek advice from your career counselor. You may also talk with your fellow students or even your professors. Then you should come up with an internship possibility list that contains your top priority internships and the ones that you may still consider.

Step 3: Apply for an internship and follow up

Seek assistance from a career counselor or a professor perhaps in developing a strong and professional-looking resume and cover letter. Keep in mind that for every internship program that you pursue, you will need a customized cover letter and resume. Ideally, you want to receive at least three recommendation letters from people who are in a position to speak about you academically or professionally.

When applying for internships, make sure you go for the ones you are most interested in. If you’re having doubts about any, there is no reason you should apply for it.

Remember to follow up with each of the organizations once the deadline for applications has passed.

Step 4: Do some research and interview

Make an effort to know as much as you can about the organization that gives you an invitation for an interview. You can check out their website to learn about their history and how they work. This information will be useful later on, especially during the interview. Remember that you should also ask questions about the organization as this shows how enthusiastic you are about them.

Step 5: Accept an offer and make necessary preparations

Should you receive a desirable internship offer, accept it both in writing and verbally. Remember also to make the necessary preparations before you start your internship. Again, you may ask your personal coach if there are other things you need to do or be ready with before you actually start your internship. Make sure that you show up well-groomed, properly dressed and, of course, on time.

Cecile Peterkin is a certified career and retirement coach, and a registered member of the Career Professionals of Canada and the International Coach Federation. She is also the Founder and Senior Career Strategist at Cosmic Coaching Center, provider of career and life management services for middle managers and mid-career professionals across Canada, United States and Europe.

© 2015 Cecile Peterkin

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