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Intern John West's 5 Tips to Landing Summer Internships

July 8, 2013

John West is a Marketing Major at the University of Iowa and is the Sales & Marketing Intern at MediaTracks Communications.

Intern John West

By John West

Finding The Right Internship

My name is John West, and I am a recent graduate of the University of Iowa after getting my degree in marketing.  Since getting my degree, I have started at MediaTracks Communications where I am currently apart of my second internship.  During my collegiate career, I worked with another internship that lasted an entire year.  Looking back on what I am doing now versus what I was doing then, I have learned a lot about what to look for when selecting the right internship.  Here are five tips that I have found handy when trying to land the best summer job.

1.  Treat getting an internship like getting a full-time job

This was huge to me, because after just graduating I felt like I should take internships completely out of the picture and focus on full-time work.  What I found was a lot of the full-time work available wasn’t necessarily what I wanted to be doing, but some internships were more appropriate for what I wanted to do later.  Having an internship (especially one you care about) is like having a full-time job, because it gives you a lot of great experience, lets you continue looking for full-time work while still having a meaningful job, and also gives you the opportunity for full-time work after the internship has ended.

2.  Hold out for the right internship

This is really hard, especially with the economy we’ve got today.  When I was still in school, I desperately wanted an internship just so I could say I had one.  Looking back, I might not even have taken the first internship I received.  I didn’t know a lot about the job, but I took it because I thought I wouldn’t have any options.  It’s all a numbers game.  Apply to enough places you want to work for, and more offers should come to you.  This gives you enough options when selecting the internship of your dreams.

3.  Make company culture a priority

For me, this is the most important part about selecting where to work.  My two internships have both had great company culture, being smaller companies and predominantly centered around interns.  Working with a close-knit group is something that I really enjoy doing, but that may not be for everybody.  Some of my friends have said working with a lot of people can lead to getting lost in the shuffle and ultimately soured their experience with the company.

4.  Make sure you do a lot of different things

Ultimately, you’re supposed to be learning at an internship right?  Make sure you’re doing things that you want to be doing, even if they aren’t directly in your job description.  At my current internship, they are great about letting me do a variety of things.  My title is sales intern, but I’m not restricted solely to sales.  I get to dabble in social media, blogging, and website content which doesn’t pigeon hole me if I end up really hating what I do.  Part of the problem with my first internship was I got left out of different projects they were working on, and I found myself sitting around when I could have been apart of something a little bit better.  Along those lines, ask for work if you’ve got nothing to do.  Most of the time, they give you something really interesting to do you wouldn’t have known about otherwise.

5.  Have fun on the job

You’re only an intern with a certain company once.  Why not enjoy yourself?  Being all work and no play can get boring after awhile, and letting your co-workers see you aren’t a mindless working zombie helps bring everyone together.  I’m having a great time at my current internship just by going with the flow and becoming a sponge for knowledge.  Plus people like working with people with a positive attitude, so it’s really a win for everyone you work with.

John, thanks for taking the time to share this with us! Students, start searching for an internship now!

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