Internships

The 2024 Guide on How to Land an Internship Successfully

Looking to snag an internship in 2024? Our step-by-step guide walks you through the whole process. From resume tips to interview skills, we've got you covered. Kickstart your career with the right internship today.
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In a job market flooded with 2 million recent graduates, real-world experience stands out. Employers are using internships as vetting tools, often valuing this experience over other credentials. Since 2000, the number of students graduating has nearly doubled, intensifying competition. Let's explore internships, externships, and how to secure your ideal opportunity. 

How to get an internship

Securing an internship starts with exploring what's out there. Next, focus on skill-building to prepare yourself for the interview process. Aim to make an excellent impression, and finish off in style with a follow-up.

Research internship opportunities

When choosing an internship, consider your career goals and interests. Ask yourself what you want to achieve with the opportunity and what type of work environment you are looking for. 

Put plenty of thought into deciding which internships to pursue, as they should closely align with your desired career path. 

Ask yourself questions like:

  • Can I see myself working in this industry or company in the future?
  • What are the job duties and responsibilities?
  • What skills am I likely to learn?
  • Is it a paid or unpaid internship?
  • How big is the company and what’s the culture like? 
  • Do I see myself fitting in here?
  • Where is the internship located? Do they offer remote options?
  • How extensive is the application process?

Thorough company research can also reveal additional opportunities within the organization that you may not have initially considered. Moreover, effective company research equips you with the knowledge to ask insightful questions during the interview, setting you apart as a well-prepared candidate.

When applying for an internship, some companies may also require you to complete additional materials such as a writing sample or portfolio, so you’ll want to have those ready.

You can find internships through your school's career center, online job boards, and company websites. Look through all the available options and bookmark those that interest you.

Update your resume and cover letter

Tailor your resume and cover letter to each internship you’re ready to apply for. Be sure to highlight your relevant skills and experience and include relevant keywords. Keep the design and format clean, professional, and well-structured. Here are some specific resume tips for avoiding common mistakes. 

Hiring managers, on average, spend around six to seven seconds scanning through a candidate’s resume. You need to quickly grab their attention, so make every word count. Find valuable advice about creating a cover letter in this TikTok video.

Prepare for interviews

Learning interview skills is a must. Practice answering common interview questions so you can talk about your skills and experience in a concise, compelling way. Dress in business professional attire whether your interview is in person or virtual. 

Always ask several questions at the end relating to the position, including the day-to-day, team members, general working hours, advancement opportunities, and more. Asking questions shows that you are interested, prepared, and a good listener.

When preparing for an internship interview, always:

  • Thoroughly research the company and come prepared with your findings
  • Practice answering common interview questions
  • Dress professionally
  • Be on time for the interview (15 minutes early is recommended)
  • Be confident and enthusiastic

Mastering these interview skills does more than just land you the internship; it sets the stage for a career where you're not just participating, but leading and innovating.

Follow-up

Within 24 hours of the interview concluding, you should send a thank-you note to the interviewer and express your interest in the position. Many candidates neglect to do this, so you want to stand out from the crowd and leave a lasting positive impression.

It’s okay to send a follow-up email to the company a few weeks after the interview to see if you’ve been selected for the internship. Learn more about following up after the interview in this TikTok video.

Navigating the 2024 internship landscape: What's different

In 2024, securing an internship might require paying attention to a few additional factors:

  • Virtual internships: Remote work is more common, so be ready to search and apply for virtual internships
  • Digital skills: Knowing how to use collaborative tools like Slack, Zoom, or Google Workspace can give you an edge
  • Social media savvy: Employers may look for interns well-versed in newer social media platforms and trends
  • Sustainability focus: Companies are increasingly valuing sustainability, so showing interest or experience in eco-friendly practices could be a plus
  • Global mindset: With remote work bridging geographical boundaries, showing that you can work across cultures might be beneficial
  • Data privacy knowledge: Being aware of data privacy laws and digital ethics can make you stand out
  • Adaptability: Highlight your ability to adapt to fast-changing environments, as the post-pandemic world is ever-evolving
  • Proactive learning: Show that you're keeping up with industry changes by engaging in online courses or following relevant influencers

What is the difference between internships and externships?

Internships and externships are both fantastic ways to obtain valuable work experience at a young age. They’re key components in setting the stage and boosting your resume for your future career, especially in today’s world of an ultra-competitive job market.

Dive head first into internships and externships

When selecting between internships and externships, consider what you’re looking for now and down the road. It’s an important decision that will mark the very first steps you take in your career.

No matter which one you choose, make the most of the experience. Be proactive and ask questions. Be willing to take on new challenges and learn from your mistakes, and network as much as you can during your time as an intern or extern.

At Paragon One, students can apply for specific externships and, if selected, join a cohort with set start and end dates. Participants often receive credit or stipends. The program is fully remote and they have weekly meetings but otherwise they work flexibly on their own schedule and put in about 10 hours a week.

Whether you opt for an internship or choose the flexibility of a remote externship like those offered at Paragon One, the key is to engage fully. With just about 10 hours a week, you can gain invaluable experience while still having the freedom to explore other interests. It's all about taking that initial step in your career journey, so make it count.

Resources guide for internships and externships

Landing your dream internship might seem daunting, but there are resources right at your fingertips ready to guide you. Let's explore three avenues to kickstart your journey:

Alumni networks: Your secret advantage

Leverage your school's alumni network for insider advice and connections. Connect with alums in your field for guidance and potential referrals. Fun fact: 40% of internships found through alumni networks turn into full-time jobs. If you're a business major, reaching out to finance or startup alums could unveil hidden internship gems.

The career center: Your internship hub

Think of your college's career center as a treasure map to your ideal internship. Schedule an appointment to explore opportunities tailored to your major and interests. They'll polish your resume and get you interview-ready. Whether it's perfecting your resume or acing interviews, they've got you covered.

Career fairs: Networking gold

Career fairs are golden opportunities. Research companies beforehand to find the best fits. Craft your elevator pitch and dress sharply. This is your moment to talk with recruiters directly. Follow up afterward – it could lead to your dream internship. For a tailored experience, attend fairs specific to your major, like marketing fairs for marketing students

Relevant articles: Knowledge is power

The career preparation articles below provide insights and strategies for success to obtain an internship, particularly with regard to resumes.

  1. You Need to Include These Three Words In Your Resume
  2. The 2024 Job Market: Mastering the Top In-Demand Skills You Must Have to Land Your Dream Job
  3. The 5 Hardest Interview Questions and How to Answer Them
  4. Red Flags That are Ruining Your Resume and How to Fix Them

Career TikTok Influencers: The quick scoop

The TikTok influencers below cover various aspects of career preparation, offering valuable insights and inspiration for students interested in obtaining an internship.  

  1. Erin McGoff
  2. Hanna Gets Hired
  3. Greg Langstaff 
  4. Jackie Cuevas 
  5. Tessa White  
  6. That Relatable Student 
  7. Student Tips 
  8. Apowermood 

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