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How to Find the Right Summer Internship

If you're an undergraduate or graduate student, you're probably starting to look into and apply to internships. Or if you're not, get on it! It's hard to know where to start. Here are answers to some of your burning internship questions.

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Q: What are some good online resources for finding internships?

A: There are many websites for finding internships. Here are some to check out.

-- Internships.com -- This is the best-known internship site, featuring over 185,000 internships at close to 120,000 companies across all 50 states. It also houses tips for applying and interview preparation.

-- CollegeRecruiter.com -- This site is for current students and recent graduates. You can find entry-level opportunities and internships. It offers a wealth of job-related advice, including a salary calculator and free resume critique.

-- iHipo.com -- Catering to graduate-level students and those who've obtained their degree, this site enables you to find international opportunities, including internships, jobs and graduate programs. It also provides advice on resume writing and interviewing.

-- CreativeInterns.com -- The site has internships and entry-level jobs in creative fields such as graphic design, web design, social media, video production and communications, among others.

-- U.S. federal government internships -- This includes a listing of federal internships and links to those available at each agency.

Q: If it's an unpaid internship, can I ask to be paid?

A: When an organization states that the internship is unpaid, it's unpaid. Sure, you can ask, but they mean what they say. This is especially true for the federal government. It may be possible to negotiate a small stipend for living or commuting expenses in an unpaid private sector internship.

Turning this around, if you don't need to be paid, and there's a company where you want to work that doesn't list internship opportunities, find some contacts there through your school or LinkedIn first- and second-degree connections. Express your interest in working there as an intern. They may just create a spot for you.

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Q: Unpaid isn't an option for me. Where can I find paid internships?

A: Paid internships exist but they can take some extra digging. Medium- and large-sized companies are more likely to offer them. Talk to professionals in your career center at school in addition to using the resources listed above. Keep in mind that former students may have held paid internships, and perhaps the career center can put you in touch with them.

Q: I want to find a communications internship but I have no experience in it. What can I do?

A: Perhaps you do have experience in it but you haven't really thought about it. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

-- Do you have experience from school in communications (e.g., writing articles for a newspaper)?

-- What coursework have you taken that is relevant to communications?

-- Do you belong to an association or organization in school or externally related to public relations or communications?

-- Have you published anything, including op-eds?

If you've got it, flaunt it -- all of the information above that applies to you should be included in your resume. If none of the above apply (or even if they do) seek out a mentor in the field who can help you figure out how to develop the required skills. This person could help translate your skills or recommend a position that will help you work towards your eventual career goals.

[See: 10 Ways Social Media Can Help You Land a Job.]

Q: Once I get an internship, how do I ensure I leave a good impression?

A: Be proactive, perform your very best and be reliable. Offer to help colleagues and perform tasks outside of your designated duties. Expand your network while in the workplace by identifying people with whom you want to connect. Reach out to them, as talking to other employees could help foster your broader understanding of the company and enable you to make invaluable connections for job opportunities down the road. You may even find a career mentor with whom you can continue a relationship after the internship ends.

Internships can be just as rewarding and esteemed as a job, but it's up to you to find one that's right for you and make the most of it. It will add a great deal to your resume and professional repertoire, allowing you to land a better entry-level job in the future.

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