MONEY job search

6 Tips for Landing a Last-Minute Summer Internship

150504_CAR_SummerIntern
Eric Audras—Getty Images

Haven't started looking for an internship yet? These strategies will help you catch up in a hurry.

Summer is nearly here, and college students (along with some particularly ambitious high schoolers) who don’t already have plans are scrambling to snag a last-minute internship.

The reality is that by the time May comes around, many student-friendly jobs are already taken. “Organizations have been recruiting all year for internships,” says Philip D. Gardner, director of the College Employment Research Institute at Michigan State University.

Still, Gardner says, students who haven’t yet secured a spot shouldn’t give up hope. The internship market may not be as robust as it was in February, he tells MONEY, “but with some diligence, students should find them.”

Diligence, that is, combined with some smart searching skills. Keep these five tips in mind while on the hunt for the perfect summer job:

1. Ask the right questions

Summer positions aren’t beneficial for their own sake. The point of an internship is to give students real work experience that will eventually lead to a job in their chosen field, or help them decide whether that field is really where they want to work after graduation. So even last-minute job seekers shouldn’t leap at the first offer.

“Some offices offer internships to people trying to get cheap labor,” Gardner says. Students who coasted into positions with family friends or took the first offer “got an internship to put on their resume, but it didn’t get them where they wanted to go.”

According to Gardner, the key to finding a really useful internship is asking the right questions:

  • “What professional outcomes am I going to be able to obtain from this internship?”
  • “Will this allow me to develop teamwork skills or apply learning to problem-solving in this area?”
  • “Will I be able to obtain a good overview of potential careers in your organization, or have a chance to experience some of the basic fundamental responsibilities in this organization?”

Each industry has its own nuances that demand a unique set of queries, so Gardner advises students to talk to their college’s career services center to learn what they should be asking when meeting with potential employers. Plus, showing hiring managers that you’ve done some homework and are eager to learn about their field can only help your chances, especially at this late date.

2. Know where to look

It’s not enough to use the basic set of job search sites, like CareerSearch and O*Net, when hunting for an internship. Many industries also have their own niche job boards where positions that don’t appear elsewhere are posted. Check with your college’s career office, which often has knowledge of industry-specific job listings and connections with a variety of employers. He also recommends talking with professors, who might have tips on internships in their areas of expertise.

3. Give your resume a quick makeover

Hiring managers depend on your resume and cover letter when deciding who to interview for open positions, so it’s important to make sure yours is as perfect as it can be before you start sending out queries. Since time is of the essence, the fastest way to get your resume into shape is to solicit professional help.

Gardner recommends making an immediate appointment with one of your school’s career counselors. They’re a one-stop-shop for general advice—like what fonts to use, how much space each item deserves—and industry specific guidance, such as which achievements to highlight and which to leave out.

4. Become an interview expert

While a writing a good resume is essential, it’s difficult for any undergraduate to get a job based on solely on their past accomplishments. Students in their late teens or early 20s understandably tend to lack extensive work histories, meaning employers are usually going to value attitude and temperament over experience.

“Young people are going to be hired more often on personality traits than on knowledge or skills,” says Carol Christen, co-author of What Color Is Your Parachute? For Teens, a career guide for young people. “Are you willing to show up on time? Are you willing to ask questions?”

According to Christen, interviews are the primary way to show employers you have the right personality for the position. Moreover, she says, it can take as many as nine interviews for students to get comfortable, making practice essential.

How does one get interview practice before actually interviewing for a job? Mock interviews with college career counselors are one option, but a more time-efficient idea, championed by Christen, is to ask people already employed in your field for an informational interview.

Reach out to people and request a brief chat about their day-to-day responsibilities, how they got their job, and other inside knowledge. These discussions won’t give you experience talking about your own accomplishments, but Christen says they should help build confidence, develop connections, and teach students how to hold a conversation entirely around work.

5. Design your own internship

If your applications go unanswered, don’t give up. Look into volunteering at a nonprofit organization or political campaign in an area that will give you some exposure to career skills. Another option is to design an independent project that could be useful to a business or nonprofit—such as doing market research or looking into various fundraising options—and then ask if anyone on staff will “sponsor” the program by acting as a supervisor or mentor.

6. Next time, get started sooner

It’s possible to get a summer job if you start searching in May, but waiting this long is far from ideal. In the future, Gardner recommends, start looking for an internship as soon as you get back from summer break. He says underclassmen should start particularly early since recruiters tend to hit campuses in the fall and early winter. Getting a head start on the process not only means a higher chance of landing an internship, it also means you’ll have more options to pick from when deciding which position fits you best.

Read next: How to convert a summer internship into a full-time job

MONEY College

Free Ride: Fiat Chrysler Sending Dealership Workers to (for-Profit) College

The automaker will cover tuition at the for-profit, on- and offline Strayer University.

TIME Innovation

What Happens After Assad

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. Assad might be on his way out. But things will get worse before they get better.

By Walter Russell Mead in the American Interest

2. You could rent a Tesla battery to power your house during a blackout.

By Benjamin Preston in the Guardian

3. It’s really going to happen: A Greek exit from the Euro is almost inevitable.

By the Economist

4. Inmates are having burner phones and marijuana delivered by drones.

By Michael S. Schmidt in the New York Times

5. Can we reinvent elite education at half the cost?

By Jeff Selingo at LinkedIn

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Military

Army Launches Review Into Whether ROTC Cadets Were Forced to Wear Heels

For a sexual assault awareness event

The U.S. Army is investigating allegations that ROTC cadets on college campuses were told to wear high heels to an event marking Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.

The review by the U.S Army Cadet Command comes after an anonymous poster on Reddit claimed that ROTC cadets at Arizona State University would have faced disciplinary action if they didn’t attend an event on Monday called “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes,” during which students donned red high heels to “stomp out” sexual assault on campuses. The post quickly garnered attention online and pointed critics of the alleged policy to other ROTC campus units that held similar events.

In a statement shared with TIME, the U.S. Army Cadet Command said they did not direct the ROTC units on exactly how the cadets should participate in the sexual assault awareness events.

“After receiving some comments about uniforms, we are currently gathering facts in order to review how local ROTC units implemented their participation in these events designed to raise awareness on the issue of sexual assault,” the statement said.

A video posted by ASU’s student nhttps://vimeo.com/125515628ewspaper shows the event at the Phoenix university. Maj. Michelle Bravo, a military science professor at Arizona State, says in the video that the cadets “planned and decided” to host the walk, where they mostly wore khakis and polo shirts with their heels.

The Temple University ROTC hosted a similar event earlier this month, and cadets there wore their uniforms with heels as they walked.

The U.S. Army Cadet Command also noted units could have participated in other events including “JROTC/ROTC 5K Run/Walk,” which doesn’t explicitly mention wearing high heels.

TIME Innovation

Are We Breaking Up With Saudi Arabia?

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. Is the special Saudi-U.S. relationship on the rocks?

By Ray Takeyh at the Council on Foreign Relations

2. Two-year degrees can really pay off.

By Liz Weston at Reuters

3. A self-contained urban farm, delivered in a box, could slash water use by 90 percent.

By Danny Crichton in TechCrunch

4. How a lake full of methane could power Rwanda and DR Congo.

By Jonathan W. Rosen in MIT Technology Review

5. Nope, we’re not going to live on crickets in the near-future.

By Brooke Borel in Popular Science

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

MONEY job search

4 Job Interview Takeaways From College Senior’s Facebook Rant

Elizabeth Bentivegna
Elizabeth Bentivegna in the outfit she wore to an interview at a Cleveland tech company. She says a recruiter told her it looked like she was ready to go "clubbing."

An Oberlin College student's Facebook post about the reason she believes a tech company cut her from its job applicant pool has ignited a firestorm of comment about proper interview attire and etiquette. Here's what you can learn from the incident.

An Oberlin College senior named Elizabeth Bentivegna recently vented in a Facebook post about being rejected for a programming job at a Cleveland software company. Specifically, she was outraged by what she feels is sexism in the tech industry, and her post has sparked fierce debate online about whether there are different standards for men and women and just what is appropriate conduct during and after a job interview.

As reported in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Bentivegna said that a recruiter contacted her for the position, and after she interviewed with the tech company, passed along the feedback that she didn’t appear “put-together.”

“She said they’d love to hire me based on my technical ability and my personality, but were not going to because A: I looked like I was about to go clubbing and not be on an interview, B: I had a huge run in my tights and C: I was late. And I told them I was going to be late,” Bentivegna told the Plain Dealer.

The company said in prepared statement that Bentivegna was passed over for the job because they had more qualified applicants, not because of her appearance.

Regardless of gender—or your opinion on Bentivegna’s choice of interview outfit—there are a couple things every young person entering the job market can learn from this incident, says New York career coach Roy Cohen. Here are some takeaways.

1. Plan Your Outfit Carefully

Rather than going with your gut or an outfit that has worked for previous summer job interviews, research what type of interview attire is considered standard for the industry you’re looking to break into. Even if you know your industry or this company is more jeans and T-shirt than suit and tie, err on the conservative side with your fashion picks.

If you are working with a recruiter, ask for her advice. “Say: ‘I’m excited for the chance to interview and want to make the best possible impression, do you have any recommendations on interview attire?'” Cohen suggests. Alternatively, you can always seek guidance from your college’s career services center on how to prepare. You can even wear the outfit you’ve got in mind to your meeting with career services as a way of vetting it beforehand.

(For more tips on how to avoid making work-wear mistakes, see our summertime office ensemble guide.)

2. Be On Time

Just because a recruiter or company suggests an interview time does not mean you are beholden to it. If other engagements, say class or another job, conflict or overlap with the time they’ve slotted, simply explain why that time will not work and suggest an alternate time during typical business hours, Cohen recommends. Don’t hurt your prospects unnecessarily by scheduling the interview too closely to other engagements either. Give yourself space to deal with a traffic jam or whatever else life may throw at you.

3. Stay Off Social Media

It’s OK to post in celebration of landing a new gig. But ranting about a rejection or unfairness could lead you to make a career-destroying blunder as these social media users did.

If an interview experience goes poorly or you receive criticism from an employer or recruiter, keep your venting offline. Tell it to a friend. Write it in a journal. “No matter how the interview goes, if you post about an organization, you need to keep it positive. If you have nothing nice to say, it’s better to say nothing at all,” says Cohen. “Venting in that kind of public way could easily tarnish your reputation and raises issues concerning your temper, judgment, and loyalty in the eyes of future employers who fear a similar treatment.”

If you’ve already posted such a rant, purge it from your history. Hiring managers and the Internet have a way of uncovering your entire online identity, even those stupid offhand comments you may have made six years ago. If you don’t remember whether your web history includes such a venting session or something more offensive, a new app called Clear promises to search your social media accounts and flag anything questionable, then delete it.

4. Bounce Back from Rejection

“Feedback is always valuable. We can use it to become smarter interviewers and gain insight into how we are being perceived,” says Cohen. “We can’t personalize every rejection, it would distort our own value. After all, companies have to reject someone.”

But if you do feel the company misjudged you, maybe because of an outfit or a timing issue beyond your control, respond by sending the appropriate person at the company a thoughtful note expressing your disappointment at not being selected. Don’t challenge them on the reasons they or the recruiter might have given for the decision. Instead, outline the value you can add to the company once more and request another interview opportunity. You can also always ask to be kept in mind for any future openings.

Read Next: 5 Ways Women in Tech Can Beat the Odds

 

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: April 15

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. The U.S. is safer than we’ve been in generations. So why do we see threats around every corner?

By Stephen Kinzer in the Boston Globe

2. Is college worth it? There’s a checklist for that.

By Brandon Busteed at Gallup

3. Life is teaching your kid the value of white lies.

By Melissa Dahl in the Science of Us

4. The secret to success for unregulated currencies like Bitcoin might be more regulation.

By Larry Greenemeier in Scientific American

5. Scotland’s new drunk-driving law works so well, it’s hurting their economy.

By Chris Green in the Independent

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Rand Paul

Rand Paul Borrows an Idea from President Bartlet

Martin Sheen as President Josiah "Jed" Bartlet in "The West Wing".
NBC/Getty Images Martin Sheen as President Josiah "Jed" Bartlet in "The West Wing".

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul must be watching “The West Wing.”

Addressing a crowd of about 400 largely college students on the fourth day of his presidential roll-out, the Republican hopeful called for making college tuition tax deductible for all students — an idea first floated on the White House TV drama.

Responding to President Obama’s proposal to provide free community college to millions of eligible students, Paul said while it sounded good, taxpayers would be left on the hook.

“The president says, well, I just want to give you free college,” Paul said at the University of Iowa. “It sounds good at first, but think about it, how could it be free? Well, somebody still has to pay. Someone has to pay the professors, the electricity, the janitorial services. Somebody pays.”

“I have a better idea,” he continued. “Let’s let college students deduct the entire cost of their educations over their working careers. Let’s make college tuition entirely deductible.”

Paul offered no details how he would pay for the tax break or how it would work. A spokesman for Paul didn’t immediately respond to a request for details on the proposal.

Under current federal law only several thousand dollars of education spending is tax deductible per year, depending on income level.

On an episode of “The West Wing,” two advisors to fictional President Jed Barlet are stranded in Iowa when they meet a man touring colleges with his daughter who worries about making his tuition payments. “It should be a little easier—Just a little easier,” he told the presidential aides Toby Ziegler and Josh Lyman.

They aides huddle in a subsequent episode are having the simultaneous epiphany to make college tuition fully tax deductible, and struggle to devise pay-fors. On the show, they suggest closing a tax loophole for corporate bonuses.

Watch “The West Wing” clip below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJRcDHKrSqw

MONEY Viewpoint

Taxpayers Should Stop Subsidizing “Country Club” Colleges

An education policy expert argues that it's time for more elite colleges to open their doors to low-income students.

For years, Washington University in St. Louis has held the dubious distinction of being the least socioeconomically diverse college in the country.

Just 85 members of its freshmen class entering in the fall of 2012 (5%) came from families with incomes low enough (typically below $50,000 a year) to qualify for a federal Pell Grant. (That’s the most recent year with federal data available.)

Washington University’s proportion of low-income students is remarkably tiny, considering more than a third of all full-time undergraduates qualify for the need-based Pell Grants. It’s also low for schools with tough academic standards. Other elite colleges maintain top reputations while providing many more opportunities to the non-rich: About a third of the students at the University of California-Berkeley—generally considered one of the top universities in the world—qualify for Pell Grants, for example. And more than 20% of students at elite schools like Amherst College and Columbia University come from low-income families.

Adding financial injury to this insult: “country club” private colleges that bar the door to the poor—thus reinforcing socioeconomic inequality—are receiving large tax subsidies from you and me, in part because of their tax-exempt status.

But there finally may be a little good college opportunity news on the horizon. Perhaps in response to the growing criticism of taxpayer subsidies of such country club colleges, some schools like Washington University are starting to at least inch towards providing more opportunities.

This January, Washington University announced a plan to double the proportion of Pell Grant recipients that it enrolls by 2020. Under the plan, Wash U. will spend at least $25 million a year for five years to increase the share of students who qualify for Pell Grants.

“Improving the socioeconomic diversity of our student body is not just important; it’s critical to our success as a university,” Holden Thorp, the university’s provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, said in a news release.

Four other private colleges that currently have low-income populations of only about 10% tell me they are also now working to recruit more low-income students.

Some of the colleges say the problem—and solution—boils down to money.

Officials at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash., for example, say one key reason their student body is currently only 10% low-income is that the financial crisis of 2008 reduced their endowment, which is used to fund financial aid. They are now trying to raise more money for scholarships so a more diverse group of students can afford to attend the school. “We have a responsibility to increase access wherever we can,” says school president George Bridges, who is leaving Whitman at the end of the school year to become president of The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash.

Likewise, Elon University, in North Carolina, is in the middle of a 10-year campaign to double the amount of need-based institutional aid that it awards. “Elon must not become a gated community open only to those of privilege,” the college states on its website, “and our classrooms and campus life will be much richer when we recruit more students from diverse backgrounds who challenge and lead us by sharing their own life stories…” Because of the difficulty of raising the large sums needed, however, Elon is making “slow progress” in increasing the proportion of Pell students it enrolls, says President Leo Lambert. “We are digging hard into this issue of access, because it makes a big difference in the quality of the kind of community we aspire to be,” he says.

Other colleges are combining fundraising with new recruiting efforts. Colorado College is raising more money for financial aid and partnering with nonprofits such as QuestBridge to recruit low-income historically underrepresented students. “We are really diversifying the pool of highly qualified low-income students that we enroll,” says president Jill Tiefenthaler.

And Kenyon College, in Gambier, Ohio, is increasing its diversity in part by changing its application. In 2013, Kenyon simplified its admissions application, removing extra essays that the school found discouraged first-generation students. It seems to be working: For next year’s incoming class, Kenyon admitted 408 minority students, up 9% from last year, and 128 first-generation college students, the second most the college has admitted in the last decade. “It’s clear to us that we can do better than where we are and where we’ve been in recent years,” says Sean Decatur, Kenyon’s president.

But this battle is far from won. There are still plenty of other colleges that aren’t making an effort to provide opportunities to more than a handful of lucky low-income students. “Just trying to increase the number of Pell Grant recipients might be good for PR, but may be bad policy for our college,” says Randy Helm, the outgoing president of Muhlenberg College, a private college in Pennsylvania where only 8% of the students come from low income families.

Part of the reason is financial. Washington University can afford to spend more on financial aid, since its endowment equates to about $500,000 per student. Muhlenberg’s endowment equates to one-tenth of that: $50,000 per student.

Helm, who is retiring in June, doesn’t think it would be healthy for Muhlenberg to make a concerted effort to recruit and finance substantially more Pell-eligible applicants. If it did, the school would have to spend its entire $36 million financial aid budget supporting them, and wouldn’t have any aid left for middle-income students who are also struggling to pay the school’s $55,000 annual cost of attendance.

“We’re not going to be a school that serves the very, very rich and the very, very poor,” he says. “I don’t think that would be fair to middle-income students, the college, or the country.”

Another reason for the lack of college opportunities may be the pursuit of prestige. Muhlenberg, for example, devotes a significant share of its institutional aid to the pursuit of high-achieving students, who often come from well-to-do families.

A page on Muhlenberg’s website, entitled “The Real Deal on Financial Aid,” acknowledges that the college and many of its competitors often use institutional aid as a “recruiting tool.” “It used to be that you could try for that reach school and if you got in, you didn’t have to worry because everybody who got in, who needed money, got money,” the college’s financial aid office states. “Today, however, as colleges are asked to fund more and more of their own operation with less and less assistance from government, foundations, and families, they are increasingly reluctant to part with their money to enroll students who don’t raise their academic profile.”

Muhlenberg provides “merit aid”—which is not based on financial need—to about 32% of its freshmen, with an average award of nearly $12,500 per student, according to data the college reports to magazines that publish college rankings.

Higher education researchers, the news media, and even the White House have been putting colleges on notice that they must do a better job serving low-income students. It’s encouraging to see that this pressure has been pushing some of the biggest laggards to make progress in this area. Those colleges that continue to hold out, however, deserve additional scrutiny. At a time of growing inequality, we can no longer afford to subsidize colleges that cater to the rich at the expense of the poor.

(Here are Money’s lists of the Most Generous Colleges and the 25 Best Colleges You Can Actually Get Into.)

Stephen Burd is a senior policy analyst with New America’s Education Policy Program. This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news website focused on inequality and innovation in education.

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