Can you Get an Internship after College? Yes. And Here’s How.

how to get an internship after college

YES, you can get an internship after college, you just have to be strategic.

If you’re reading this article, chances are you already know it’s hard to get an internship after graduation. While there are a few companies that allow post-graduation internships, it isn’t very common. Luckily, there are ways to work around the system and increase your odds of getting one.

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Deciding if interning after graduation is right for you

There are lots of good reasons for wanting an internship after graduation. Maybe you finally qualify for your dream internship, but your graduation date is getting in the way. Maybe you want to do an internship to make money before grad school. Whatever your reason, there are ways to work around the system to get you there.

However, if you want to do an internship after graduating because you feel like you don’t have enough experience under your belt to get a full-time job, you might want to reconsider. This is simply imposture syndrome. The truth of the matter is that no entry-level employee has any idea what they’re doing, and hiring managers expect that. If a hiring manager wants an entry-level engineer, they have to be okay with training that engineer from scratch. If they’re not willing to do that, they shouldn’t be looking for an entry-level employee.

Also, realize that internships and full-time jobs are not the only options for recent engineering graduates. Click here to read about alternative jobs for recent engineering graduates. Options like being a contractor, technician, or drafter can be great stepping stones for engineers.

How to get an internship after graduation

1. Apply to graduate school (you dont have to go!)

How it works

When looking at internship requirements, there is usually a requirement that says something along the lines of “Currently working on completion of a bachelor’s or master’s degree in related field” or “Must be enrolled in an accredited undergraduate or graduate degree program”. What this really means is you must be planning on being enrolled in a degree program for the fall semester following your summer internship. What they don’t tell you is you don’t have to actually attend the program.

I’ve seen multiple cases where one of my intern friends is planning on going to grad school in the fall. Halfway through the summer, they realize they like working in industry and change their mind about grad school. The company only cares that you have an acceptance letter before your start date. There is no penalty for deciding you no longer want to attend.

If you are applying to internships before you get an acceptance letter, just make sure to let your recruiter/HR know that you plan to attend graduate school in the fall. If you are applying to graduate schools online, make sure to add a line for graduate school on your resume and list a later graduation date. You don’t want to be automatically not considered because of your undergraduate graduation date. They will probably allow you to interview, you just won’t be allowed to start until you have an acceptance letter in hand.

The downside

If you are already planning on or thinking about attending grad school, this is a great option! However, if you are not, the downside to this method is it takes time and money to get accepted to grad school, and the earlier you start the better. You will also likely have to take the GRE. When looking for a grad school to get into for the sake of an internship, look for schools that offer rolling admissions or application decisions by May. To increase your odds of getting into a grad school, look for ones that have particularly high admission rates.

10 accredited schools that have a graduate degree acceptance rate of over 60%:
SchoolAcceptance RateAverage GPAAverage GRE Score
Washington University in St. Louis62.2%3.4317
Arizona State University – Tempe60.1%3.5313
University of Kansas60.0%3.32309
University of Kentucky62.4%3.41313
University of New Hampshire65.1%3.4308
University of North Texas63.1%3.41303
University of Maryland – Baltimore County65.3%3.9306
Illinois Institute of Technology65.8%3.3307
Ohio University60.1%3.49307
University of Denver61.6%3.21309

2. Find a company that allows post-grad interns

This option is harder. There aren’t many companies that will allow interns who are not enrolled in school. However, here are some tips to increase your odds of finding one

  • Look for job postings that don’t say anything about being enrolled in a program in the qualifications list. Either the company allows it, or they assume graduates wouldn’t be looking for an intern position. Go through the interview process as normal and chances are if your interviewer likes you, they will advocate for you to HR.
  • Look at smaller companies. Smaller companies are less likely to have large intern programs with strict qualifications.
  • Make sure you include a cover letter in your application. Include your situation in your cover letter, explain why you are looking for an intern position and confirm that you are willing to work for intern pay and benefits.

Other post-grad options

While it might seem like internships are the only way to attain your first engineering position, that is not the case. If you are having trouble finding full-time positions, you may want to look for alternative entry-level positions that employers actually like MORE than internship experience. These positions include being a contractor, technician, or drafter. Click here to read more about these options, what they are, and the benefits and downsides of each.

Read More

3 Alternative Entry-Level Jobs for Engineers

5 Steps to Acing your Engineering Internship Interview

How to Network During your Engineering Internship