Be a 'Wintern' -- Five Tips for Landing a Winter Internship

the Intern Queen Lauren Berger - winter internshipsA former intern of mine from Ohio University sent me an email a few months back. Andrea explained that her school was on the quarter system and she had an extended break from December into January. Andrea asked if it would be possible for her to do a winter internship at a company in New York then.

I work with hundreds of companies around the U.S. and help them coordinate interns. However, we normally stick to fall, spring, and summer opportunities -- the most common among students. In this situation, I was willing to ask a few employers their thoughts on winter internships and I found several of them willing to take students during this time period.A winter internship might not be something a company will promote or post a listing for, but it's important to know that many are open to the idea. Sure enough, Andrea had a handful of interviews and internship offers. She ended up taking a "winternship" with Marie Claire magazine in New York City. Here are five tips on how to land a winter internship:

1. Make an Opportunity for Yourself
As mentioned, these internships aren't easy to find. Speak to your career center about local employers you can reach out to, email me and other internship websites directly and ask them about any employers that are potentially willing to work with students over the winter break.

2. Download Skype
Andrea's first winter internship interview was with a fashion company out of New York. They did a phone interview and then asked her to do a Skype interview with the owner of the company. Make sure you have access to Skype and a webcam. If you don't have an internal or external webcam, find someone that does. The key is to always be prepared. Remember, a Skype interview means a video interview over the Internet. Also, Skype is free.

3. Use That Cover Letter
If you are trying to create an out-of-the-box opportunity for yourself, you need to explain that in the cover letter. Be very clear about your availability and what dates you can intern. Remember, we use the cover letter to connect the dots for the employer.

4. Be Practical
If you know you cannot physically get to New York for the winter break, don't apply for a winter internship. Professionals are very sensitive about their time and you don't want to waste it -- especially if you plan on applying for a summer opportunity at their company. (Employers have long memories.) If you know you can't get to a big city over the winter break, that's OK. Apply locally.

5. Apply, Apply, Apply
If you are reading this and thinking winter internships might be great for you, I'm glad. However, you need to get on the ball right now and start applying for these opportunities. Employers that decide to take on winter interns are going to have them start right after their exams from school, possibly take a break from the holidays, and then continue throughout January. Get these applications in ASAP. And just like I would tell you about any other internship season, apply for as many opportunities as possible. To be safe, apply for at least 10 different opportunities so that you make sure you land something. Winter can be a great time to squeeze in an internship and get that real world experience.

Photo of Lauren Berger courtesy of Felicity Murphy Photography.
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