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Career Prep

Timing Is Key: When to Apply for Internships

Guest Contributor

The only thing worse than not getting what we want is never having the chance to go for it in the first place.

Throughout their life, your student will certainly face rejection — maybe even from one or more of the internship programs they apply for. And that is absolutely fine. Rejection is a part of life; the important thing is that they tried.

But what can be especially upsetting for your student is to find their dream internship, only to realize they missed the chance to apply for it because they procrastinated or didn't pay close attention to deadlines.

Being informed and knowing when is the best time to look and apply for internships is a crucial first step to helping your student have a shot at the program they want. Here's what you need to know to help them with this process.

Why Should Students Apply for Internships?

Internships aren't an actual requirement for many jobs, but they're a great way for a student to gain an extra edge over other applicants.


  • Provide students with a chance to put classroom learning into action
  • Help them gain work experience
  • Equip them with skills they'll need in the future

During an internship, your student can learn to communicate better with others and create networking connections. They'll learn how to interact with coworkers and supervisors, get comfortable navigating an office environment, and ease the anxiety they undoubtedly will have when they get a professional job.

When Should Students Apply?

There is no single time of year when it is best to apply for internships. It all depends on the industry the students are interested in, the company and the position they are seeking.

The best approach is to look for opportunities continuously.

As a general rule, we advise students to find and apply for an internship at least 3–4 months before the start date if the company has announced it that far in advance. However, if a student finds a program they're excited about, then the earlier the better!

Preparing Early

It's always best to start preparing as early as possible. Before they even begin looking for available internships, students should think about what sector they want to join, the type of internship (paid, unpaid or a course credit internship), the skills they hope to acquire, and the qualifications they will need.

Family members can help students research companies online. Parents can also use their own personal and professional networks to identify possible internship opportunities, and you can help your student update and polish their resume to best showcase their abilities.

Watching Out for Industry Schedules

If your student has a specific season when they'd like to begin their internship, then most industries and companies have a similar schedule of recruitment that you can follow:

  • For a spring internship, students should start looking for available positions in the late summer or early fall of the previous year.
  • The best time to apply for a summer internship is the beginning of the year in January or February.
  • For fall internships, students should apply in April or May because most of them will begin between late August and early October.
  • For winter internships, the period between August and September is the ideal time to apply.

Remember, it's your student's responsibility to contact specific companies to learn more about the internship programs they offer and the application timeline. Encourage them to practice these phone calls with you first, but don't be tempted to do the work for them.

Don't Disregard the Holiday Season

Contrary to popular belief, the holiday season is a great time to apply for internships. Many students avoid doing so because they think most companies do not work during this time. However, the period between Thanksgiving and the New Year is an excellent time for companies to hire new interns and employees for the coming year.

When Is It Too Late to Apply for an Internship?

It is never too late to apply for internships. Of course, it can be too late for a specific position because the due date has passed, or even for a particular season because most companies accept applications months prior.

But if a student is determined to find an internship program, then they can do so. In many cases, the start date might be later than they anticipated, that is all.

Tips and Tricks for a Perfect Internship Application

During the pandemic, many companies had to cancel their internship programs. As a result, this year getting an internship may be more competitive than ever because there are more applicants but potentially still fewer programs to apply for.

Students need to make sure they stand out from the crowd, and a great way to do so is through their application documents.

1. Personalize Their Resume

Resumes are one of the easiest ways students can showcase their qualifications to the employer. When preparing a resume, they should highlight their strengths and the areas they excel in.

A great way to do so is by including a section dedicated to their key strengths and skills, both technical and non-technical. They can also write about their experience and achievements related to the goals they have for the future.

2. Showcase Their Skills

When a student tailors their resume for each application, they can keep the same outline and structure. However, they should update some sections to better display the relevant skills they possess.

First, they should carefully read the internship description, then compare their resume to it. Then they can keep the relevant parts, delete anything that is not fitting for the position, and add more information matching the requirements. The key is to focus on the skills and experience section for this stage.

3. Elaborate on Their Education

College students might not have a lot of or any work experience at all. In such cases, it's best to put the focus on their educational achievements.

They can include the name and location of their schools, the degrees they attained or are working towards, the field of study, and their GPA (but only if it's higher than 3.5).

4. Proofread!

Proofreading is a crucial step that no one should neglect. Students have worked hard on writing their resumes and even harder to have what to fill them with. No one wants to see a typo or grammatical mistake be the thing that sets them back in the recruitment process.

Although your student will go over their resume many times while tailoring it for the application, they should read it one more time with the specific goal of spotting any grammatical or spelling mistakes. Then they should read it yet again to make sure they didn't miss anything. Is the formatting correct?

At this juncture, they may want you to look it over, or they can run it by a campus career center staff person.

Internships are an excellent way for students to begin their path towards landing a full-time job. As a parent, you can provide them with the support they need throughout this journey. Encourage them and show appreciation for their efforts.

Fleur Ciotola is a digital marketing manager at Bay Atlantic University. She oversees digital marketing initiatives and is committed to ensuring that BAU's marketing campaigns sync with public relations initiatives. Her primary passion is to provide educational material that educates readers and assists students.
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