Define your goals
Why are you doing an internship and what is important to you about the outcome? Do you want to work in a big city? Small company? One of many interns or the first one ever? Considering not just the industry you want to work in but the type of experience you are looking for is important in helping you weed through so many opportunities. And chances are, the more you know about both what you want to do, and how you want to do it, the better prepared you'll be when a company asks you that question in an interview!
For many students the question of, "When do I start looking?" can be the most confusing part of an internship search. And the answer really is, "It depends." Being a successful internship seeker means understanding the intern timeline for the industry you are interested in. Some organizations start recruting at the beginning of the fall semester, others are well into spring before they even put up a posting. Knowing when to look can be one of the most important things you do to make sure you don't miss out on a great opportunity!
Still feeling unsure? Talk to someone at the University Career Center who can provide some perspective, ask a friend whose had an internship, or even better, find out straight from the source - talk to someone in the field that interest you! You can find alumni who have volunteered to talk with current students about their positions and how to break into their industries in UCAN, our new University Career Alumni Network!
Be open to the definition of an "internship"
The word internship usually calls to mind a summer experience spent working in an office. But gaining exposure to an interesting profession can be a lot more creatively defined than the traditional concept of an internship. Think about volunteering, conducting an informational interview, or job shadowing. An experience need not last all summer - in fact, you could consider splitting your summer exploring multiple career interests. Have a part-time job? Think about transferable skills you can develop or facets of your work that relate to your field of interest.
Refine your presentation
A "good" resume or cover letter doesn't just mean you have nice margins or a pretty font (though those never hurt!). Most importantly, your presentation materials should reflect your knowledge and interest in an industry. An internship is usually a first professional position, so an employer doesn't neccessarily expect that you have already had extensive experience in a field. But they do want to see that you have developed related skills, taken relevant classes, participated in something that exposed you to the field - anything that gives them a sense of why you want to take this next career step and secure a place in their organization.