With final exams all but finished and commencement ceremonies underway, summer internship season is nearly upon us.
The normal rules of thumb for undergraduate students seeking to secure the best summer work gigs are: Apply early, and everywhere. Follow each organization’s application instructions to a tee. And sell yourself as someone willing to do, nearly, anything for a job.
Yet, there are some late-in-the-game tactics that might similarly help you secure a suitable summertime résumé-booster — including a few that go against the rules mentioned above.
Here are four steps my current and former students in the U.S. and Asia have taken to successfully secure summer work opportunities at the last minute.
1. Make personal contact.
Sometimes an expected intern backs out just before starting. Or more money or an extra position or two are suddenly made available. Reaching out now proactively — even though the application process is closed — might entice a potential employer to give you a serious look.
If you present yourself as a viable option — someone with the right experience, ready to relocate and willing to dive in right away — they just might be inclined to offer you a position versus having to scroll through a stack of old applications and reach out to former candidates.
2. Create your own position.
Sell yourself for a summer job not promoted by an organization or possibly one that doesn’t even exist. Target an area the organization needs — showing you’ve done your homework and making it tougher for them to say no.
The key here is selling your related experience and extreme flexibility. One of my past students who carried out this sales pitch successfully said the first step was making contact with someone who would most appreciate the help her temporary position would offer.
She then broke down what she would do while in the position very specifically, promoting herself as a planner and self-starter. She then stressed she would not need to be paid and require minimal supervision. She simply wanted to be part of the team.
After a bit of email back-and-forth, she got the gig. She started a week later.
3. Work from home.
Promote your ability and willingness to carry out a variety of tasks digitally. If you sell yourself with the right enthusiasm — and are OK with earning only credits, not cash — an employer might see the benefits of having projects carried out by someone not taking up office space or needing personal supervision.
4. Check with your school.
While on summer break, a large majority of students seek employment in the outside world. But there are also usually opportunities on campus. Many college and university offices remain open during the summer and would be grateful for student help. Plenty of professors are conducting research and are in need of an assistant or two. And some programs are staged on campus by groups that require staffers or participants.
Reach out to the offices, professors and programs whose general fields or activities align with your interests. Even if they say no, they may know of another opportunity nearby, on or off campus.
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