How To Begin: Starting Your Internship Applications

We’ve all been there. Sitting in front of our computers with 36 tabs on a window filled with Handshake postings, program information sites and random Google searches. Staring at these pages can be intimidating, especially if they’re filled with opportunities we’re excited about. So, how do we make the leap and start applying? Read our tips to get organized and get going. 

  1. Have your resume ready and understand cover letter writing. You must have an up-to-date resume in order to apply for an opportunity and you also need to have an understanding of best practices for effective cover letter writing in order to be a competitive candidate. Avoid writing your first ever cover letter for your dream internship– practice with an expired post first! Need some help with cover letters? Come to our upcoming workshops. Remember that PCAs can review cover letters, too!
  2. Create a 2024 Internship Search folder on your Google Drive in which you store all of your applications, research materials and notes, making a sub folder for each application and its respective materials. 
  3. Make a spreadsheet to organize all of your internships and applications in one place, including those that you’ve saved on Handshake. Order the internships by application due date and highlight the opportunities you’re most interested in to help you make a schedule. See a sample version, here! 
  4. Have an accountability buddy with whom you can work on applications. Friends don’t let friends write cover letters an hour before a deadline! Try to schedule shorter, consistent blocks of time when you’re well rested and able to focus. 
  5. Attend a weekly Internship Application Drop-In Clinic on Fridays from 1-3PM to keep yourself on a schedule and receive additional support. 
  6. Keep a record of who you reach out to in another spreadsheet, especially Amherst alumni. Whenever you’re applying to an opportunity or reaching out to an organization, see if there are any Amherst connections through a search on LinkedIn or the Alumni Directory. Feel free to reach out to those folks directly to ask them about their experiences and share why you’re interested in working there. 

Create a consistent naming convention for files that you can commit to, like C_Houston_LoebCoverLetter_2024.pdf. Remember to never edit into an old cover letter or resume for a new application: having a record of past applications is helpful as you continue to draft new applications over time, and allows you to recall how you utilized the STAR Method in different ways depending on what strengths and skills you needed to highlight.

By Emily Tareila
Emily Tareila Program Director, Charles Hamilton Houston Internship Program