Internship Guide for Students
Internships: Taking You from College to Career
Internships allow you to explore your interests, find out what inspires you, and apply what you have learned in the classroom to real-world situations.
Benefits for Students
An internship will help you:
- Acquire marketable skills
- Get up-to-speed on trends in your field
- Build your resume
- Expand your professional network
- Increase your advancement opportunities
What Interests You?
Before you search for an internship, it may help to brainstorm your career interests. Ask yourself:
- What are my special talents?
- Do I have any work-related skills?
- What sets me apart from other students?
Why wait? Use the following resources to find an internship today!
Access Your Handshake Account
Start your internship hunt at Handshake – a modern, easy-to-use platform where students and alumni can find full-time, part-time, internships, and on-campus opportunities. On Handshake, you can schedule advising appointments, connect with employers, register for events, and more!
Expand Your Search
- California Intern Network (CSU Sacramento)
- Chegg ® Internships
- Health Careers Connection
- Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) National Internship Program
- Internsource (The Community College Foundation)
- Pathways Internship Program
Research local businesses in the Sacramento area. Is there an industry or specific company for which you dream of working? Do you know the names of companies that are leaders in your field of study?
Many companies post internship opportunities online – check out a company's website, or give them a call.
Find out if there are any local job fairs you can attend. At a job fair, you can collect business cards and then follow up with employers or recruiters you meet.
Check your college's events calendar or Career Center for information about future internship and job fairs.
You can search for community organizations looking for volunteers, since the Work Experience Program allows students to create internships out of volunteer experiences. HandsOn Sacramento is a great resource for volunteer opportunities.
If you identify an employer who is willing to hire you as an intern, then you can create an internship from scratch. If you are not sure how to explain what is needed to create an internship, then contact your college Work Experience Program office for more information.
You can also create your own internship if you are self-employed. You will need someone to evaluate your work and verify your hours. Contact your college Work Experience Program office for more information.
A cover letter accompanies a resume and introduces you to a prospective employer. A cover letter is an opportunity to explain why you are a good fit for a position and helps catch an employer's attention.
- Customize your language to reflect your abilities as they relate to the position requirements
- Address the cover letter to the appropriate person at the company where you are applying
- Use an active voice (instead of a passive voice)
A resume highlights your strengths and accomplishments. Some internship applicants write a summary statement at the top of their resume that describes the value they would bring to an internship.
- Contact information – name, phone, email, and address (optional)
- Education – degrees, certificates, or relevant coursework
- Relevant skills
- Work experience – if you don't have a lot of work experience, then you can organize your resume by skills and list the related courses you have completed
- Job-related experience – for example, caring for a family member, volunteering at a school, or community work
- Optional reference list (typically on a separate page from your resume) – advisors, coaches, or mentors who can speak to your character, skills, and work ethic; typically someone you've known for at least six months
- Use strong verbs and avoid the use of personal pronouns
- Use bullets, capital letters, and distinct headings
- Be brief and concise in your descriptions
- Tailor your skills to the specific internship or job position
A few final tips to help you stand out:
- Print your cover letter and resume on the same color and type of paper
- Have a friend proofread your cover letter and resume for suggestions and spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors
- Be honest
The best way to prepare for an interview is to practice your answers to common questions out loud. Your interviewer will want to hear about your experiences and how they relate to the internship. The Work Experience Program office offers free interview coaching.
- Arrive on time.
- Dress appropriately.
- Shake hands with your interviewer.
- Make eye contact.
- Be enthusiastic and curious.
- Bring a copy of your resume and a pen and notepad to take notes.
- Prepare a script with your answers to at least 10 common interview questions – rehearse and practice!
- Be ready to answer industry-specific questions relating to your field.
- Ask for business cards from all interviewers, so you can follow up with them later.
Common Interview Questions
- How would you describe yourself?
- Why would you like to work here?
- What are your greatest strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- Why are you the best candidate for this position?
Send a Thank You Note
Last, but not least, send a thank you note! A thank you note shows you are genuinely interested in the internship. A thank you note can take the form of a handwritten note, card, or email. Your thank you note should be two to four concise paragraphs. Consider recounting what you learned or enjoyed in the interview. A thank you note is also an opportunity to mention any relevant experiences or skills you forgot to mention during your interview. Be sincere and personal – express how much you appreciate the opportunity.
Try to send a thank you note within 24 hours of your interview. If you are interviewed by a panel, then send each panelist a thank you note.
Got an Internship? Congratulations!
Congratulations on getting an internship! Don't forget to do the following:
- Send a thank you letter.
- Identify the dress code.
- Schedule the date and time of your first day at work.
When your internship starts, bring your initiative and passion to the workplace. Impress your supervisor. Going above and beyond will help you get noticed and open doors to new opportunities.
At the end of your internship, ask your supervisor if you can list them as a reference on your resume and ask for a letter of recommendation.