NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Students and recent graduates hoping to land that dream summer internship will likely face an improved, but still mixed, job environment this year. The private sector has boosted the number of job openings available throughout the year, but budget problems at the state and local government level continue to force the public sector to cut the number of positions available to students.
To be sure, there is certainly no shortage of internships posted to job sites like Internships.com and SimplyHired.com – the latter of which currently has more than 40,000 posted – but getting chosen for the more desirable internships could still prove difficult, in part because of the ever-growing applicant pool.
“The competition for internships has been growing, not diminishing, so you really have to run a sharp search campaign,” said Jacques Aboaf, vice president of strategic development for Vault.com, a career website. Aboaf notes that students are no longer the only ones vying for coveted spots. These days the pool includes graduates who have been out of school for several years and are looking to make a career change, as well as older and more experienced workers who may have lost a job to new technology or the economy and are therefore looking for a fresh start elsewhere.
So if you don’t land your dream internship, don’t feel too bad about it. That being said, don’t let one or two rejections stop you from using your summer to boost your career. MainStreet asked several career experts for their advice on how one can get valuable job experience this summer even if you’ve been turned down from all the internships to which you applied.
Create Your Own Internship
If all of the internships you’ve found on career sites and job boards have proved unresponsive, it may be time to take a more proactive approach and create your own internship by reaching out directly to companies you’d like to work for, whether or not they have positions advertised.
“Most jobs – and especially internships – are not formally advertised,” said Daniel Greenberg, chief marketing officer at SimplyHired.com, in part because companies often opt not to pay to advertise their part-time positions or internships. “So you need to identify hiring managers inside the organizations you’re interested in and submit the resumes to them directly… as this could be forwarded along to someone else to fill a temporary need.”
If you still can’t land a position, you might take this strategy one step further by crafting a formal proposal outlining a specific project you could pursue as an intern at the company of your choice.
“Even if a company you’re interested in doesn’t have an internship for you, you can still approach the company with a proposal to develop your own,” said Suzanne Helbig, assistant director of the career center at the University of California, Berkeley. “Write a proposal laying out a project that you’d like to do for them, and spell out the basic work terms – how many hours you can do, what your qualifications are and how the project in question aligns with the company’s needs.”
In this way, you not only open a line of communication with the company, but clearly demonstrate your interest and knowledge of the organization, which can only help your chances at getting a shot at a position.