Learn essential strategies to land your first, second, or even fifth internship as a college student.
My sister, Alisha Sahay, has completed five internships during her time at Barnard College in New York City. I sat down with her to talk about how she earned internships at companies like NBCUniversal and Viacom to help you gain insight on getting that first internship.
I suppose you could say so! I really just enjoy learning about various functions in media and seeing how content—whether it’s related to news or entertainment—are created, tailored, and distributed to audiences.
My first internship was during the spring of my sophomore year with NBCUniversal. I was a research intern with the Universal Kids network.
I heavily used LinkedIn jobs; every day during the fall semester, I would apply to maybe five or six spring internships in media. By the end of the semester, I had a whoooole bunch of cover letters in my “Career” folder on my laptop.
I’ve always been very proactive about my academics and career, and I wanted an early exposure to the media industry. I still think about this today—how I’m grateful I explored that interest early on. Additionally, as a New Yorker, I wanted take advantage of the countless employment opportunities around me. I also luckily had space in my academic schedule to accommodate an internship—as long as it didn’t affect my grades. (School comes first, and employers are aware of that as well!)
In general, I also believed that doing an internship during the school year would position me well in terms of experience and network for internships during the summer, which can be quite competitive.
Definitely leadership positions in societies and clubs. I focused on attaining these positions in organizations relevant to the media industry. But really, any position where you can demonstrate your skills and leadership is helpful! All leadership positions allow students to gain a certain set of soft skills that can definitely be extrapolated and applicable to most internships (such as taking initiative, leading a time, or facing criticism/obstacle).
I’d advise other college students to find clubs that are relevant to the industry that you’re applying to. Or, find positions in clubs that are relevant to the function you’re interested in.
At the time, I was an editor-in-chief at a publication at school, which demonstrated my strong interest in putting out content and thus media.
Additionally, I completed small projects, ranging from building a website for a small healthcare firm to devising business strategy. In spite of these different projects that weren’t necessarily internships or were clearly relevant to the internship, it demonstrated a keen tendency to take initiative and follow through with projects to completion.
I also made sure that multiple people reviewed my resume and gave me constructive feedback on both content and format. (Yes, little things like the spacing between your lines matter!)
But beyond the resume, I also spent time on crafting my cover letters, ensuring that employers could get a sense of why that company, why that position, and why me.
My second internship was also at NBCUniversal as a research intern, but this time with a different network. The process of getting this internship was more straightforward; since I had already worked there, I was able to apply internally. At most companies, hiring recruiters usually follow-up with well-performing interns to see if they’d like to extend their internships.
For any industry, definitely being familiar with the company’s leadership structure and presence in the news is key—what products have they released? What was the general response? What initiatives are they taking? Any new business strategy they’re implementing? With media internships specifically, it’s helpful to know about shows and content that the company is releasing.
Most importantly, employers want to see a genuine passion for the company’s content or products. (Of course, to demonstrate this passion, you should be knowledgeable about these things.)
Being that my first internship was a research position, I had to refresh my memory on quantitative exercises; specifically, how data can be visualized in the most aesthetically yet concise way possible. I also brushed up on my Excel skills; I went through all the key functions of Excel to make sure I knew how they worked, and I watched YouTube videos on anything I was confused about.
The last and most important step was knowing what was on my resume and being able to talk about each experience in-depth, beyond what’s written on that piece of paper.
This one was a little different. In addition to honing my resume and cover letter, I spent a lot of time talking with Viacom employees to learn more about the company and its various functions. A referral was helpful here, but this is the case with any internship with which you hope to move forward in the hiring process.
I have many pieces of advice:
It's not easy to balance coursework with a job search during college. But as shown by Alisha, the right amount of research, networking, and preparation can help you land a good internship in college.
Take a look at our list of best websites to find an internship.
And if you don't have a resume yet, try Easy Resume's online resume builder to create one in just minutes. Best of all, it's completely free for college students!
Rohit is a software engineer, entrepreneur, and investor with a passion for helping others advance in their career. He interviews experts across different industries, researches job market trends, and provides career advice at every step of the job search process.
Healthcare is a massive and important industry that contains all sorts of professionals. To land a job in healthcare, you must understand what relevant skills employers are searching for. In this guide, we will cover key healthcare skills to include on your resume and why doing so is so important.Read this career advice article
IT is a massively growing industry with tons of potential for professional growth. It’s no wonder why so many applicants are flocking to these jobs! In this guide, we will cover what IT skills are and offer you examples of some of the top skills to include on your resume.Read this career advice article
Including technical skills on a resume is an absolute necessity. These types of skills show employers your quantifiable qualifications. In this guide, we will cover exactly what a technical skill is and some of the best examples to include on a resume.Read this career advice article
With the world becoming more digitally focused, having strong computer skills is more important than ever. In this guide, we will cover what computer skills are and which ones are best to include on your resume.Read this career advice article
Your resume header is the very first thing an employer will see. Not only does it need to contain the correct information, but it needs to stand out as well! In this guide, we will teach you how to write the ideal header for your resume.Read this resume guide
When setting out to write the perfect resume, choosing a format is an important decision. Reverse-chronological resumes are the standard format, so knowing how to craft one is key! This guide will teach you how to write the best reverse chronological resumes.Read this resume guide
Learn how to format contact information on your resume and what information to share with the hiring manager.Read this resume guide
Don't know whether you should write a one-page or two-page resume? Find out when it is appropriate to write a two-page resume and learn how to write it correctly.Read this resume guide