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Over the past ten years of working in Career Services, I have witnessed the internship search process growing more and more competitive. I don’t bring this up to make college students nervous, but to motivate them to take the search process very seriously. Many of the students I meet at Northwestern University truly understand this and realize that they have to begin their internship search as early as Fall Quarter.

Though internship recruitment for Summer 2013 will take place in at Northwestern year-round, the majority of the companies who recruit here will post positions starting in December with deadlines in January and February. That doesn’t mean that students should wait until the Winter to start their search. It is important to pay attention to early deadlines and to make the most of Fall Quarter for your internship search.

My suggestions for how to look for a Summer Internship during Fall Quarter are:

  1. Take advantage of the services offered by the UCS Career Counselors. These Masters Leveled staff can help you better define what your career interests are which can help focus your internship search and possibly simply the process.
  2. Reflect on This Past Summer. Not only do you want to document your experience and accomplishments on resume, but UCS can help you communicate effectively what you learned this summer or during other leadership, research and project work within your cover letters, interviews and online self-marketing.
  3. Do Company Research to determine which organizations’ mission, environment and culture will fill your goals and personality. You can use resources listed on the UCS Online Resources Page. But you can also…
  4. Attend Career Fairs and Company Information Sessions hosted during Fall Quarter. Though some of the companies will be on campus for the primary goal of finding full-time hires, more and more companies are recruiting their interns in the Fall or would be fine with you coming to their sessions and learning about the company in general. Most companies will return for the Winter Internship and Job Fair on January 15, 2013. But take advantage of the visits companies make to NU this Fall.
  5. Network with Alumni to learn more about companies, career opportunities and to have connections at companies you’ll be applying to this Quarter and in the Winter Quarter. Concentrate on developing meaningful relationships and not only “Just in Time” relationships you might form just to get your foot in the door.
  6. Talk to your Peers and Classmates about their past summer internships. Not only is this a great way to find out about new and interesting internships, but many companies ask their past interns to suggest new interns from their group of friends and classmates.
  7. Get involved on Campus and do well in your Classes. It is important to build a strong resume but also a better defined purpose for yourself. I’ve met countless students who have joined student groups or taken part in classes/research at NU and experience clarity on their career goals as a result.

I’ve given many suggestions for action items for the Fall that will help you secure an internship and be very competitive. If you need any assistance please be sure to check in with Northwestern University Career Services through one-on-one appointments or one of our helpful workshops including InPursuit Internship Conference on November 11th. Good luck with the start of the 2012-2013 school year! Go ‘Cats!