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It is that time of year in grad school. No, I am not talking about the erratic winter weather of Texas. Most grad students start their spring semester with a strong motivation to get an internship. Everyone has a list of their dream companies they’d like to work for, but sometimes the expectations don’t meet reality. It is important to choose the most suitable company.
Typically, product-based companies make their mark among students. However, there are hundreds of companies that work business-to-business building innovative things that do not find a place in student discussions. The following steps will help you come across opportunities not generally seen from the surface.
Researching companies may sound scary, but in this case it is like an online scavenger hunt. As part of research, you need to make a list of companies where you see yourself working. You can start with the dream companies, but it shouldn’t end there.
Given the home advantage of more than half a million former Aggies, find companies related to your major who hire Aggies frequently. It is easier for companies to hire alumni since they are aware of the skillset you can bring.
Then there are startup companies. It is quite difficult to judge a good startup and equally challenging to decide if you should begin your career with a startup. Internships provide a good platform to experience the startup environment and work culture. If you are at a crossroads choosing a multinational company versus a startup, targeting an internship can be your best option.
Finally, categorize the companies according to job profile, location, pay range or company distinction based on your preference.
Circumstances such as company financials and leadership changes are out of your control. These affect the number of openings in a company. All the companies in your list from above may not be open to hiring. Hence, it is the time for the second task: finding openings.
Of course, it is overwhelming to search all openings in a day. It is also difficult because you lose motivation after a while. A simple solution would be to pick a category from the list above and work on that for 3-5 days while applying as you search. Then move on to the next category.
Multinational companies, typically software companies, tend to post a generalized job description for internships to attract large pools of applicants. You need to read between the lines to understand the expectation. If that doesn’t help, reach out to either a current student who did an internship in that company, a former student working there or any current employee of the company. The common complaint is not hearing back about your question. This is partly due to the way you communicate, which we will discuss next.
If you don’t ask, you don’t get answers. There are so many unanswered questions in everyone’s LinkedIn messages. The primary reason for this is not framing the question properly. While you are concentrating on your daily job, you want fewer distractions. The easier and more relatable the question, the more likely it is you will receive an answer.
Most people love to answer the job-related questions and move on rather than get to know others personally before answering so they don’t have to shift their focus. A message starting with your name, university and major information immediately distracts and the question goes unanswered. One possible way to frame the question is to ask the question upfront and add any introductory message below. Make sure to include the job ID and the link to the job posting to encourage a response.
The internship process is highly stressful for grad students because their post-graduation job prospects partly depend on internships. Tailoring your resumé according to the job is one of the key aspects to be successful in securing the opportunity. There are multiple workshops around the year to get guidance and feedback on your resume. The search process starts once you have a well-crafted resume. Of course, a simple internet search and uploading a resumé can sometimes get you an internship offer, but you might have to be in the right place at the right time. The three steps above help find the opportunities from a larger pool of companies and create a stress-free environment, so you can choose the right option with a clear mind.
If you found this blog post interesting, you may consider reading “My journey from NASA Competition Team Leader to NASA Internship” and “Internship tips from Gabby Joubran.”