So you can’t get an engineering internship. Getting internships as an engineering student is very important. It’s one of the best ways to gain relevant industry experience and increase your odds of finding a job after graduation. However, they can be really hard to get. So how do you get one? Here are 10 tips on how to get an engineering internship.
- Apply everywhere
- Apply early
- Go to your school’s career fair
- Attend national career fairs
- Visit your school’s career counseling
- Talk to professors
- Email small design companies
- Avoid indeed
- Used LinkedIn to your advantage
- Don’t be afraid to cold call
1. Apply everywhere
You can be the best applicant in the world but at the end of the day, getting an internship is always a numbers game to some degree. Students often fail to realize that all internship experience is valuable to employers, even if it’s unrelated to what you ultimately want to do.
Companies realize that students don’t have much industry experience. Let’s say you want to go into biotech. Even a random construction internship would be valuable in the eyes of an employer. Any internship is always better than no internship.
2. Apply early
The earlier you start applying to internships, the better. Fortune 500 companies or other larger companies typically start hiring interns for the following summer as early as August, and do most of their hiring in the fall semester. They do hire in the spring, but your odds of getting an internship are significantly greater in the fall.
Smaller companies often do their hiring in the spring. Large companies have established internship programs. They are used to taking on 100+ interns, they have a budget for it, and even specifically hired people to handle the internship program. Smaller companies usually take on only a few interns and don’t know their budget until spring.
You should be applying to as many internships as you can (while maintaining quality of application) as early as you can, but make sure to prioritize larger companies in the fall if that’s what you’re hoping to get.
3. Go to your school’s career fair
This one is obvious, but it really is one of the best ways to get an internship. Make sure you’re prepared. Dress appropriately, have physical copies of your resume on hand and perfect your resume. Talk to as many recruiters as you can and you might land some interviews.
Check out 7 Ways to get an Engineering Internship with no Experience for specific tips on perfecting your resume and elevator pitch.
Something you should also do is ask for the recruiter’s business card or LinkedIn. After the career fair, either email them or add them on LinkedIn and message them. Thank them for talking to you and if you can, mention a specific thing you talked about to help them jog their memory and remember who you were. Reiterate that you really enjoyed talking to them and would love the opportunity to work at their company.
4. Attend national career fairs
National careers fairs are an amazing resource that are often overlooked. SHPE (Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers), SWE (Society of Women Engineers), and NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers) all host yearly national career fairs. These career fairs are much larger than university career fairs. More companies attend and there are more positions to fill. Many students have more success at these fairs than at their school career fairs.
When recruiters are sent to these events, they have quotas to fill. For example, they might have 10 positions to fill at your school, and another 10 to fill at each national convention. The more career fairs you go to, the better your odds will be.
5. Visit your school’s career counseling
The quality of school career counseling centers definitely varies, so take this one with a grain of salt. However, they usually know of companies looking to hire interns. It can’t hurt to go and ask. Worst case, you lose a few minutes of your day.
This is also a great place to get your resume reviewed. You should always have at least one person review your resume, if nothing else for grammar/spelling mistakes. Your school’s career center should have people professionally trained to edit resumes. They can give you great tips.
6. Talk to professors
Professors often have many industry connections. It’s important to build a good relationship with your professors starting early. It can be really useful for getting advice, succeeding in the class, securing future letters of recommendation, and potentially getting you an internship. If you have a good relationship with a professor, there’s no harm in asking if they know anyone hiring interns. They may be able to connect you with someone.
7. Email small design companies
Smaller companies tend to have less established or non-existent internship programs. It can’t hurt to email smaller companies and ask if they would be looking to take on an intern for the summer. Attach your resume to the email and see what happens.
8. Avoid indeed
Indeed is a great place to find jobs, but try to avoid applying on Indeed. Often the same jobs are posted directly on the company website, and there’s a much better chance that someone will see your resume if you apply directly on their site.
9. Used LinkedIn to your advantage
If you don’t have a LinkedIn, make one. Every engineering student should have a LinkedIn profile that is complete and up to date. You should also include your LinkedIn URL directly on your website (typically at the top section where your email is).
10. Don’t be afraid to cold call
Cold calling is a common way that people get internships. Cold calling can seem intimidating, but there’s nothing to worry about. The worst thing that can happen is them simply ignoring you. There are a few ways to do this.
- Email smaller engineering companies
As previously discussed, send your resume and see if they are looking for interns.
- Message people on LinkedIn.
Message managers or recruiters at companies you want to work for. In your message, say you’re really interested in the work the company does and ask if they have any internship positions available.
- Use Facebook.
This might be unconventional, but post on Facebook asking if anyone knows of people hiring summer interns. You never know which one of your mom’s random friends knows someone who may be hiring.
You can also join Facebook groups for fields you may be interested in and post in them. Facebook groups are full of adult professionals that already work in the field you’re interested in. A great way to do this would be to post your resume. Say you’re a student looking to get an internship in their field. Ask for help critiquing your resume and if anyone knows of open intern positions. People typically love imparting their advice to students. You’ll likely at the very least get good resume advice. And who knows, there might be a hiring manager in the group who liked your initiative.