Getting paid for work is the standard in today’s employment world, with the one exception being internships.
For some, it means the stereotypical run to Starbucks or manning the printer for the day making copies. For others, internships can provide a valuable insight into a potential industry that the student may want to pursue, or not pursue, upon graduation. Unfortunately, many internships come at a cost, and not to the employer.
Unpaid internships are still a thing, and frankly, it’s wrong on both moral and some legal standards. Students have bills to pay for school and living expenses, and in most cases, they pay transportation and food costs if the internship is located far from home.
Here are a few tips and tricks that I have learned over the years that have led to finding and landing the good internships that pay:
- Build your own website. Don’t rely on LinkedIn for displaying your work: I use SquareSpace for my personal website, where I can customize my website to my tastes. I do a lot of digital media work, so I can embed my videos and photos on the site. Their website is easy to use and it’s completely free to try out.
- Use your school email address or buy a domain name: Don’t use personal email accounts for internships. Keep everything organized under a professional sounding name. School accounts also help open doors if the person reading the email is an alumnus or knows someone who is at the company. A personalized email, such as John@Smith.com also shows you care about your image.
- When you send your personal website URL, keep track of the visitors: This has helped me the most. SquareSpace tracks all of the users who visit your website, the time and day they view it and for how long. It also shows their IP address, often with company name registered when you search that IP on many services offered. When a company visits your site, give them a friendly email the next day reminding them of how and why you want to work for them. Your name and info will be fresh in their minds after just having viewed your site and will usually lead to a phone call or email returned.
- Set up a Google Voice number: I usually don’t answer my cell phone when a random number appears, thinking it is a telemarketer. If you set up a separate Google Voice number and have it forwarded to your phone, it only shows up as that number. Odds are extremely low that this new number is on any list as you just generated it at random, compared to cell phone companies reusing old numbers when accounts are cancelled. You can even have the phone number set to a specific ring tone, so when someone calls, you know they mean business…literally.
- Reach out in unconventional ways: For one of my internships, I found that the hiring manager was a Stony Brook alumnus from many, many years ago. I found his graduating year from LinkedIn and went to the archives on campus and found an old article from our friends at The Statesman about the first ever Roth Regatta. I handed him a copy of the article, as he and his roommate were one of the founding members of the event. He admitted, after I was hired, that it brought back great memories and made me look resourceful.
For other situations, if you’re brought into their personal office for an interview, take note of their surroundings. A conversation about their Yankees ballpoint pen or a picture of them on a trip to Hawaii can start interesting and memorable conversations that can help make you look more observant.
Keep searching for paid internships; websites like Internships.com and Indeed.com can help narrow down the listings to what you want to do. LinkedIn often posts valuable positions as well and nearly all of their postings are for paid positions. Most importantly, just don’t give up. No matter if it is an internship or not, it is still going on your resume. Make sure you find something not only that gives you the experience (and money), but also a job where you can proudly discuss what you experienced during your internship to a future employer.