It may be frigid in much of the country still, but that shouldn't stop college students from dreaming of summer — internships, that is.
Companies are starting their searches for candidates now, and many have early application deadlines.
Dr. Kat Cohen, founder of college consulting company IvyWise, shares four pieces of advice for scoring your dream summer internship.
Research — then use — your network of contacts
Use parents, friends, your school's alumni network and other job-search sites to connect with individuals who can sit down with you and provide more information about their work. Just like in the college search process, it's helpful to talk to as many people as possible in order to learn more about a specific field, company or internship opportunity.
Know your end goal
The point of an internship is to explore a particular field to see if you would like to pursue it as an academic major or career, so you should do something that really interests you and builds upon your current skills. If you're interested in graphic design, see if local firms are looking for design or administrative interns. If you like biology and medicine, find a lab that has a research internship. Even if the position isn't exactly what you imagined, you can still learn about the industry, how the profession works, gain insight into the skills and tools necessary to succeed and begin building your network with professionals. A good resource to begin your search is LinkedIn's Student Jobs Hub.
Perfect your resume — now
While it isn't anyone's favorite thing to complete their resume, it is the most important first step you can take so you can jump on good internships as soon as they pop up. Also, it makes it easier to fill out your LinkedIn profile with your professional interests, goals, past jobs or internships, relevant classes or projects, and volunteer experience. You can also upload presentations, videos or photos that best illustrate your accomplishments, so you can apply to internships online, either on LinkedIn or directly through the company or organization's website.
Get creative and proactive
Create your own opportunities if none of the internships or jobs already available are truly what you would like to pursue. For example, if you are interested in social media marketing, you aren't required to find a marketing company to intern at. Instead, you might want to reach out to the local animal shelter you already volunteer for and who may need help running their Instagram account to help increase adoptions. See if you can work for them and turn it into an internship/work experience.