Securing an internship requires hard work, focus, and dedication. It may take several months, sometimes even a full year, to find the right internship for you, so it is essential to prepare and start early. Keep in mind that while having a strong, focused resume is important, it is not the one thing that will lead to your success. In fact, it is just one small piece of a comprehensive, multifaceted internship search. To ensure you land your ideal internship you will need to utilize a variety of methods, approaches, and tools. We've pulled together some important resources to help guide your internship search.
The Individual Action Plan for Internship Seekers is designed to help CMU-SV students get started and stay on track in their search. Whether you are just beginning or have been looking for an internship for some time it's important to have a solid starting point and plan. Since employers start recruiting for interns as early as September, students should start preparing over the summer by defining their goals, researching companies and internship opportunities, considering timelines and deadlines, and getting their resume ready. The IAP provides step-by-step information on what a successful internship search entails.
Researching employers and making a targeted company list is an essential step in your Individual Action Plan. Google, Facebook, and Apple, while great companies, aren't the only ones out there and it's important not to focus on just one company in your internship search. Begin by researching companies to know which employers interest you most and why, where you'd like to spend 2-3 months of your time, what type of internships they offer, etc. We recommend using a spreadsheet to organize and track your targeted list of about 50 companies.
Additionally, these resources may help you research and identify potential companies to target:
- Hoovers is a database of millions of potential employers nationwide (not job openings); great for a specific geographic or industry search. Access Hoovers via the university libraries site.
- Carnegie Mellon Online Alumni Directory is a university-wide network of more than 30,000 CMU alumni
- CareerSearch: A database of over 2 million potential employers nationwide (not current openings). This is a great resource for a specific geographic or industry search.
- Vault Guides: Research employers, industries, and career subjects easily and efficiently. You will be redirected to Career Insider powered by Vault. After logging into WebISO, please DO NOT use your Carnegie Mellon Andrew ID or password when creating your Vault account
Finding internship opportunities is a dynamic rather than static process and your Individual Action Plan includes a variety of methods for finding internship opportunities. It is important to keep an active eye on CMU-specific resources like Handshake, CMU-SV resume books, career fairs, or internships sent via email by Career Services. Additionally, there are external online resources that will publicize opportunities like a company's career website, general and field-specific job or internship search engines, LinkedIn, and online forums. While online resources can be helpful tools for collecting information, it’s essential to note that only approximately 5-10% of jobs/internships are actually found through online job applications. Therefore, internship seekers should also work on building their professional network and developing creative search strategies. Your network will help you learn more about companies, what they look for in candidates, unpublicized opportunities, and your field of interest. Get more information about how to build your professional network.
Landing Internship Offers
Once you learn about a position or internship program, whether from a personal connection or referral, online resource, networking event, or from Carnegie Mellon, it's important that you are prepared to show the employer that you are a fit for the opportunity. Your resume often forms an employer's first impression of you, so it is important that this document conveys your professional story but it is not the thing that gets you the internship. There are many other ways you will need to show your fit for the type of position you are looking for — your online presence, like a website, blog, or social media accounts, email exchanges with the employer, interviewing, both technical and behavioral, and your personal interactions with the employer, will all be used to shape the employer's impression of you. Therefore, take some time to reflect so you understand your unique strengths, natural abilities, knowledge, interests, skills, passions, success, growth areas, etc. This will help you develop and articulate the value you will bring to a prospective opportunity.
After you've demonstrated your value and an employer is interested in having you join their company, then they will make a formal offer, either verbally or in writing. Before doing anything else, be sure to review CMU's hiring and offer policy and take some time to evaluate the offer based on what is important to you. Consider the following questions: is the compensation what you were looking for? Are you pleased with the work you will be doing? Are the expectations clear? If the offer does not meet your expectations in any of these areas, or other things that are important to you, then you may want to consider negotiating.
Refer to this guide for more information and tips on how to evaluate and negotiate offers and be sure to inform or consult with CMU-SV Career Services about the offer.
Accepting an Offer
Accepting an offer of employment, whether verbally or in writing, says to the employer that you will follow through. It demonstrates your commitment and dedication to joining the company over the summer and you will be expected to honor that commitment. Once you accept the offer you must discontinue all further search activities and withdraw from any upcoming interviews. Reneging on offers is unacceptable and tarnishes your relationship with the employer as well Carnegie Mellon University’s relationship with the employer and other industry partners. We expect all students to conduct their internship and job search in a professional and ethical manner.
Important Information for International Students
If you are an international student, then you should be familiar with your visa status and have a complete and thorough understanding of the requirements for CPT. Some employers may not be aware of the practices and policies for hiring international students so it's your responsibility to provide expertise and knowledge when needed. For more information about this, please visit the Office of International Education's website and attend their virtual CMU-SV workshops on the CPT and OPT process.