7 Tips On How To Get A Great  Internship Or Co-op

Start early and plan properly to set yourself up for success getting an internship/co-op position.

There are many ways to go about getting an internship/co-op position, and if you’re new to the whole process, it can be overwhelming.  

But it doesn’t have to be. If you start early and plan properly, you can set yourself up for success. 

Though how do you plan when you don’t even know where to start? CareersNOW! has you covered.  

Here are seven tips on how to get an internship or co-op position. 

1.    Tell everyone that you’re looking to get an internship 

When you first start your journey to get an internship or a co-op position, make sure you tell everyone. Yes, we mean everyone (okay, maybe not EVERYONE) but people you know relatively well such as acquaintances like your dentist or hairdresser. 

You might be familiar with the saying “It’s who you know, not what you know.” There is a lot of truth in that statement. There are many jobs that are unpublicized on job board websites or are university/college-specific. This doesn’t mean you don’t have any access to them. You just must know the people who know about them. 

It’s possible that your neighbours know a friend who works in the industry and happen to know they are looking for a student this upcoming summer. That’s why it’s essential you tell people. You never know who knows who. Your next internship might be one conversation away.  

2.    Reach out to people in the industry you want to get an internship in 

There’s a lot of value in talking to people and learning from their past experiences. Not everyone has an internship they can offer you, but they might have knowledge that can help you get that dream internship. 

If you are interested in a certain position or company then do some research. Linkedin is a great place to start. Once you find a person that interests you, reach out to them. Obtain their email and ask to talk to them for 15 minutes. Be specific about the amount of time and your intentions. These conversations can be valuable because they could provide you with insight into the company or hiring procedures. The plus is that it’s also just fun to talk to new people. 

3.    Look at specific job boards 

There are a lot of websites and job boards you can go to for job postings — but many of them cover a broad range of careers. If you already know what field you’re interested in it is better to look up industry-specific job boards. Examples of Food/Beverage job boards include: 

·       FoodGrads 

·       Careers in Food 

·       Ag Careers 

·       Canadian Professional Meat Cutter’s Association 

You can find more tips on how to use job boards effectively here.  

4.    Look for internship programs all year round 

We understand that school can get hectic, but it’s also important that you allocate a small amount of time each week to looking for internship opportunities. Before you even start looking, make sure that your resume, Linkedin profile and any related portfolios are up to date.  That way you can avoid the last-minute scramble when you get an internship opportunity. 

Generally, if you’re looking to get an internship in the summer, you should start looking in October of the year prior. Large companies with well-established co-op programs can even start accepting applications in September. Mid-sized companies usually have either February, March, or April deadlines. 

Don’t panic if you still don’t get an internship early. Some companies aren’t as organized and only end up making job postings in May or June. 

5.    Attend networking events and tradeshows 

Just because you are a student doesn’t mean that you can’t attend tradeshows and networking events. Tradeshows are great because when you attend, you get to learn about key players in the industry. Sometimes you learn about companies you didn’t know existed. If you’re lucky, speaking to a person at a booth might lead you to a job opportunity. Even if you don’t get an internship, tradeshows are great places to learn about innovations going on in the industry.  

On the other hand, networking events can open many doors that could help you get an internship.  They help to build relationships and are valuable learning experiences. Someone you connect with could have been in the same position and give you great advice. 

6.    Reach out to employers directly about internship programs 

You could call it “cold calling,” but reaching out to employers directly could give you some results. To do this tip, reach out to hiring directors at a company you are interested in and message them on Linkedin or through email. Explain your situation: you are a student looking for a co-op position, you admire their company and you know of any potential opening openings.  

Here is a sample email you could send a hiring director: 

Hello Mr/Ms. [Hiring Manager’s last name], 

My name is ______, and I am a 3rd-year student studying chemistry at XYZ University. I’m looking for summer work as an__________________.  I wanted to reach out because I really admire what your company does. Would you know of any opportunities? 

Thank you, 

First Name 

If you hear a response back, make sure to respond quickly! Always be courteous, and don’t ask for too much. 

7.    Attend career fairs 

Career fairs are there for you to get jobs, so make sure you attend! These events feature employers looking to hire for full-time, part-time, co-op and internship positions. They are prime opportunities for employers to meet face-to-face with interested and talented students and alumni. Prepare yourself early by following these job search tips

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