find an internship

Obtaining an internship is competitive and finding one may take a day or up to several months. Some organizations have deadlines four to five months or more prior to the start date of the internship. Others review applicants and make offers one to two weeks before the start date. To have the most options, start your search early and don’t stop applying for internships until you’ve accepted a position.

What steps are involved in finding an internship?

Step 1: Work with your department
Contact your academic department's internship contact to learn about earning credit if applicable.
Step 2: Identify careers or organizations of interest
Identifying organizations that support causes you believe in, make quality products you purchase, or provide services of interest to you is a good way to start. The more knowledge and enthusiasm you have about an organization, the more you’ll impress them.
Step 3: Prepare your application materials
Develop an effective resume and cover letter.
Step 4: Search for leads
  • Search Handshake for postings and on-campus interviewing opportunities
  • Connect with internship employers at NAU career events
  • Check other job or internship sources such as,, or LinkedIn
  • Speak with faculty, academic advisors and internship contacts in your department (some post internships on their academic program web site or in their offices)
  • Meet with an NAU Career Development advisor to get advice and help with your resume and cover letter, and to practice interview techniques
  • Network with friends, family and acquaintances
Step 5: Apply
Apply for internship openings and prepare for interviews.
Or, create your own internship!

It is also possible to create your own internship by contacting employers in your field of interest and describing your qualifications, interests and how you can contribute to their success. Descriptions of existing internships are helpful to frame your discussion with a possible internship host. Focus on the advantages to the organization in adding an intern, such as having an extra person to assist with projects, offer fresh perspectives on organizational issues and provide new ideas.

Specifics on how to do this:

  1. Be sure that your resume reflects the knowledge, skills, and abilities that you will bring to the internship.
  2. Do not wait until the last minute. You need time to get your resume to the appropriate people.
  3. Research to create a list of organizations you would like to work for, and be sure they have an area or department that fits your interests. This takes some investigative skills.
  4. Find the appropriate contact person. You may be able to identify this person through the organization’s web site, LinkedIn, family or friends, or by simply calling and asking to speak with someone about setting up an internship.
  5. When you contact the person, explain specifically why you are interested in their organization, what you want (setting up an internship that will utilize your interest in the _________ field and your strong _________ skills), and what you will bring to the organization, such as new ideas, assistance with current projects, and a willingness to work hard.

 Important advice when making your contacts: 

  • Don’t say, Do you have any internships available?  If they haven’t used interns before, their answer will likely be no.  Instead, describe your desire to work for the organization in terms of setting up a “work experience” to learn more about a specific career field.
  • Ask if there are any projects they haven’t had time to tackle, which you could complete while gaining experience in the field.  Share information about your skills or education that might be of interest to them.

Next: Community Involvement

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."  
~Eleanor Roosevelt