Getting Started Professional Development

How to Get an Internship in College When You Don’t Know Anybody

Written by Peter Jones

You know the drill. Good things happen to people who know people. That’s how internships and jobs are landed—personal connections. But what if you don’t know anyone? How are you supposed to get that internship, let alone a job?

Here are four proactive and creative things that you can do to beat the odds.

Brand Yourself

It’s never too early to craft a unique personal brand. That’s the kind of thing that really sings to recruiters, plus it shows a fluency with valuable social media platforms. Use your favorite apps to create a platform and an atmosphere around yourself and your particular skills and interests. And use web software and blog sites to showcase your best accomplishments online. Think of it as an online portfolio, no matter what your field.

And keep it professional. Double-check your e-presence with the help of a site like Then get involved in any important discussions in your chosen field.

Be Specific

When you’re working on your resume and cover letter, do yourself a favor and make them as targeted specifically to the job or internship you want as possible. Try printing out both the job description and your resume and then go through both with a highlighter. You want as many keywords to overlap as possible. If you don’t have many, go back through and retool your resume. Then draft a customized cover letter for that particular position. It shows your thoroughness and also your level of investment—before you even get an interview.

Go to the Office

Your college or university has a career office for a reason. Use it. Career advisors are trained to help with general job search strategies, and can be an invaluable resource, but there are also career advisors there who have specific knowledge of the field you’re trying to break into. Go and pick their brains. Have them run a fine-toothed comb over your materials. Ask them for strategic advice. You never know what they could turn up, including companies searching for candidates just like you!

Go Above and Beyond

The rest is up to your professionalism and charm. Read up on the company before the interview. Practice your answers to typical sample questions. Get a good night’s sleep, dress appropriately, always be 10 minutes early. Shake hands with everyone. Make eye contact. Stay on your toes. Be personable and warm while making them see how qualified you are. Then write a thoughtful follow-up thank you email and address it to your interviewers by name.

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About the author

Peter Jones

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