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How To Land That Impossible Internship

By Cyrus David

If you are convinced that your dream internship is out of reach, we're willing to bet that you're wrong. Landing internships at the Goldmans and McKinseys of the world may be a challenge, but that's OK. We'll help you develop a strategy to go after your top choices.

There are a number of students who took their internship search to a new level and scored their top choices. Now we'll show you how you can do the same.

Dig for connections you never knew you had

The first and most important action you should take is to get in touch with alumni from your school's alumni network. The majority of alumni will be thrilled to help you, especially if they have made themselves available on the school's network. If you do not know of such a network at your school, visit your career center and ask for a list of alumni who work in your industry. Remember to always start these conversations with questions, showing interest in the industry, and never with requests for interviews or resume pushes.

Next, take 15 minutes to compile a list of all your family members and friends. When you finish, go through the list and figure out who you will see within the next week. Plan on asking them who they know in your target industry. Email or call everyone else on your list and find out who they know. Make sure you have good questions prepared for your conversations.

If your first contact is unable to help you, ask about introducing you to three people who can. You have the advantage of being a college student and many people will be helpful.

Become an expert

Your contacts will be willing to help, but you will need to work harder and be just as polished as your competition to get interviews for the best opportunities. Whether it be an analyst at a bank or consulting firm, or a software engineer at an internet company, begin to learn everything about your target industry, company, and role. Read articles, speak with professors, and pick the brains of insiders so that you will be able to speak intelligently with your contacts and ask impressive questions.

Believe the internship should be yours

Do not be afraid to show people that you deserve it. Communicate to recruiters and your contacts that you are positive you deserve the internship and will be an all-star performer. If there are any doubts, try listing your accomplishments in an email and highlight examples that are not on your resume. The only way they will believe in you is if you absolutely believe in yourself.

Always follow-up with thank you letters

Sending a hand-written or typed letter after speaking with someone can be very powerful. People are proud of helping others and will feel great about the impact they made on you. Many professionals showcase thank you letters at their desks and show them off to colleagues. Motivate your contacts to go the extra mile for you by going the extra mile for them with a thoughtful thank you note.

This strategy is not about short cuts or instant results. It takes time to read up on your target industry/role, find and get in touch with relevant contacts, and send out thank you letters, but more importantly, it takes dedication. If you want it enough, that "out-of-reach" internship can be yours.

Now go get 'em, and send us your success story when you score!

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