The fall intern semester is about to begin. Thousands of interns are heading for DC for an amazing experience. It could be you next semester!
If your dream is to work in a major U.S. city like Washington, DC, start now for next summer or your next semester. The good news is that it’s not as hard as you might think. A little persistence and acting now can make it happen.
Here’s what you can do NOW to land a big city internship next semester:
It’s simply a matter of planning ahead, making contacts, and sticking to what you’re passionate about. Research your options, and when the time comes to submit your application, you’ll be on top of the game, not scrambling. Here are a few tips:
Define your ideal internship
Take time to outline your dream internship.
This includes making a checklist of everything that you want to get out of your work opportunity. Ask yourself:
- where you want to be in 5 or 10 years
- does this internship help get you there
- what industry you want to work in
- what you want to learn
- who you want to meet or work for
- what skills you wish to learn
- what tasks you offer
- would you want to work there full time one day
This early reflection will help guide you through your search and help you decide which opportunities best fit your wants, needs and career aspirations. Be sure to make your list of internships that you want to apply for with backups and backups for the backups.
Start your search now: be the early bird
Long-distance opportunities will take some time to pull together. From gathering your resources, to researching companies, to going through the recruitment process, to relocating, it’s never too early to start your search.
- Many summer internships begin accepting applications now. For January, get going fast.
- Decide what industry you want to work in
- Search companies in the city you want to work in
- Visit their website to find info on how to apply (Usually on the Careers page)
Start pinching pennies
One of the main reasons why most students and young adults choose to take internship opportunities close to home and in-state is simply because of the expense. Unless you find a placement that includes all living expenses, you will have to pay out of pocket to live, work and play. It is essentially a short-term move.
Here’s your intern guide to DC
Start saving now. Finance can become your biggest issue.
It’s more expensive to live and play in big cities. But there are ways to stretch your bank account.
Here’s how to handle your money and chill
Create a strict budget to follow that takes your big city cost-of-living into consideration. Be sure to account for housing, utilities, Internet, food, transportation and entertainment. Look for housing that includes utilities, kitchen equipment, Internet, and free WIFI, so you aren’t slammed with unexpected extras.
- Look for free events. There are company events, to attend (good networking here!) and many free things to do in big cities like DC.
- Look and ask for student discounts
- Manage your money with an app
Look for financial aid
Once you land your big city internship, start looking for ways to supplement your finances. Perhaps there are scholarships or grants that you can apply for to help fund your temporary move.
When you’re looking for that dream gig—the big city internship—consider all your connections. Your parent’s friends, current employer and professors can help. Reach out to those who have already interned, worked and lived in your desired city. You can get their names from your Program Director at your college or university.
Look them up on LinkedIn or social media and reach out. Politely.
Ask them for advice on how to get an internship. Ask them how the process worked for them. Ask them whether or not they know of any open opportunities. Don’t rule anything out; you never know who will have a lead or be able to help you land your dream internship. Many of them were once interns.
Read more on networking 101: a purposeful party
Learn how to network with anyone
Apply for many positions
As an out-of-towner, you may not have as many immediate replies as someone working locally. Apply (and do it early) for many internships that meet the requirements of your checklist. If several weeks go by without hearing back, start sending out applications for other positions, working your way down your big city internship list. Be persistent.
When it comes down to it, landing the internship of your dreams can be a long road, but it has a fantastic destination.
Be prepared to put in the time and effort, and you will find a way to make it happen.