The frequently discussed buzzword of communications majors: internships. Where do I look, how do I start applying, and am I even ready to dip my toes in the field? As someone who is no stranger to internships, from searching to working, I’ll give you tips for the start of your internship journey.

Actively Search

An internship is not going to fall into your lap. In the communications field, there is always competition when it comes to an internship position. These jobs are extremely beneficial to gaining insight into your future career, so you need to be actively searching for a position. I’m a huge fan of LinkedIn, so much so that I wrote a blog about it (read it here). So that’s where I often start searching. LinkedIn offers various filters for location, entry-level, etc. while also recommending positions for you that align with the experience listed on your profile. An aspect of LinkedIn that I particularly love, is that companies usually have profiles with descriptions and active posts that allow you to see more about the organization. Another popular career website is Indeed, and for GVSU students in particular, Handshake can be a great resource for local internships – often times on-campus or within close proximity. Personally, I obtained my second internship from a Handshake posting from the GVSU Athletics Department. GVSU takes pride in hiring student employees, so I highly recommend looking into on-campus internships. 

My best tip when applying to internships is to create a spreadsheet to keep your applications organized. I created a sheet with the organization name, position title, application date sent, and if I received a rejection or interview. This allowed me to organize and track my active search for internships.

Be Attentive

Although career websites such as LinkedIn and Handshake can be resourceful, keep an eye on emails or social media posts from organizations you follow. If you’re connected with established professionals on LinkedIn, chances are they will post about open positions in their company. Stay alert when scrolling through your LinkedIn feed, positions are often shared. The first internship I acquired was at a local waterpark near my hometown. I neglected unsubscribing from their email marketing list and came across a digital marketing internship posting. This position was not widely promoted on LinkedIn or their social media, so staying alert in my job search led to this opportunity. The current internship I have at RED66 Marketing was posted in the GVPRSSA newsletter during the summer as well. So, don’t scroll past each newsletter you forgot you signed up for! It can be filled with an opportunity or two.

Top tip for being attentive during the application process: read the job description! Frequently, organizations will post for a marketing intern but the roles and/or qualifications describe something a communications major can do, such as digital marketing. Take the time to read through job descriptions, roles, and qualifications so that you aren’t limiting yourself to opportunities. Now, this goes both ways. At times, an internship may have qualifications that you don’t have experience in yet such as proficiency in excel or Google Analytics certification. The moral of the story being – read every inch of the job listing.

Create Your Own Opportunities

It can be intimidating to reach out to organizations that don’t advertise an internship position, but sometimes they’ll make room for you. In a recent interview for my Advertising/Public Relations capstone with Lisa Taylor of Sabo PR, I received insightful advice. Lisa encouraged the idea of reaching out to organizations and expressing admiration for their work. In her experience, she obtained internships for organizations like ArtPrize, for simply contacting the organization. In this world, communication is everything! If you openly show interest, admiration, and genuine ambition for a company, they may open a door for you. Browse a company website, contact a communications professional and make a connection. Even if it doesn’t pay off right away, it can be advantageous in the future.

Don’t Be Discouraged

During the internship search, it’s common to feel discouraged. You may be overwhelmed with application materials like your cover letter, polishing up your resume, and unsure of what industry of communications you want to immerse yourself in. In reality, all you need is one. One opportunity, one application sent, one interview, and one offer. It would be great to have multiple internship offers, but that is far fetched. For my first internship search, I applied upwards of 40 positions to receive one interview and offer – but that was truly all I needed. That being said, keep going! Spending hours on LinkedIn, polishing your resume, and writing cover letters is no easy feat, but it will pay off when you secure the internship. 

About the Author:

Samantha Nuno

Samantha is a senior at Grand Valley State University studying Advertising and Public Relations with a minor in Spanish. This is her first year in PRSSA, and her first year serving as Social Media Director on the PRSSA Executive Board. This is also Sam’s first year on the GrandPR staff as an Account Associate. Sam’s dream job is to work for a cruelty-free cosmetic or skincare company in their public relations team. Some of the things Sam enjoys in life are iced coffee, her dog Cody and spending time with loved ones.

Twitter: @smarie1231