Finding a Summer Internship

Now depending on your major, maybe you’ve heard this concept of a summer internship. An internship basically gives you an opportunity to work at a company for a certain amount of time and it’s a great way to build your resume, make professional connections and prepare you for the “real world”.

I can only speak about engineering specifically, but internships are highly encouraged. You hear horror stories of engineering students not being able to find jobs post-graduation because they didn’t intern while in school. Adding internship experience to your resume makes you a more competitive candidate once you apply for your first full-time job. Several college students know that which makes it ridiculously hard to get one. It’s a roller coaster filled with rejections, frustration and waiting. Every year I still face a number of rejections – but I don’t take the rejections as personally anymore. Luckily, I’ve been fortunate enough to work as a mechanical engineering intern for a few summers but it wasn’t a cake walk. This post is to help you land a summer internship.

Besides boring you with the same responses I’m sure you’ve heard: apply early, follow-up, attend job fairs, freshen up on your hard and soft skills, create a LinkedIn, etc. I will say those are all very important but here’s one I haven’t seen on the web a whole lot: job shadow.

Now I will say this post is more aimed for the college student who keeps receiving rejection letter after rejection letter. This is my college student who is trying to land their first internship. Hi, I know it’s not fun to get rejected. I’ve been there. Let me try to help.

When I look up “how to get an internship”, almost every article talks about the importance of connections and they’re right…it’s all about connections…Internships are about who you know.

What if you have no connections? This is where my two keywords (job shadow) come into play. Job shadows are a great way to check out a company you may be interested in, informally interview people who are doing what you want to do in the future, and build your resume.

Before I get into the “how”, let me get into the “why”. Before landing my first internship, I was getting rejections left and right and it made sense. I had no previous engineering internship experience and compared to the other applicants, I didn’t stand out. After I job shadowed a couple companies (and included it in my resume), I finally moved forward in the interview process. Gaining job shadow experience made me stand out (as not many people think to do that sort of thing) and it showed that I am taking my future seriously by seeking initiative.

So, how do you job shadow?

From my experience, job shadows are typically a couple hours to a half a day sort of thing so make sure to plan accordingly. If you’re working less than 40 hours this summer, try to get a couple job shadows in.

Find a couple companies, preferably ones that you’re interested in and reach out. It gets a little bit easier if you have a LinkedIn. You can easily look up “engineer at Microsoft” and a ton of potential connections pop up. Again, assuming you’re sending this email or LinkedIn message to someone you don’t know, you want to make sure you phrase everything correctly. There’s tons of great online articles that’ll help with this. Look into them. Give them background information on who you are (ex: UW student pursuing marketing) and why you’re interested in a job shadow (ex: I would love to job shadow you and visit Amazon because I am fascinated by ___). Be genuine. Use your please’s and thank you’s, check for typos, and be sure to attach your resume.

Essentially, prepare for a job shadow the same way you’d prepare for an interview. It’s that professional atmosphere without as much stress. Make sure to bring a pen and paper. Be prepared to ask and answer questions. Take notes. Research the company before job shadowing. Bring copies of your resume. Aside from that, be sure to be polite. Thank whomever for their time and send them a “thank you” letter/email afterward.

That’s basically it. If you have questions, reach out. I’d be happy to help. Other than that, good luck! I’ll be praying for you.

Feel free to add me on LinkedIn:


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