How to search for internships and jobs

Whether you are searching for an internship, a part-time job, or a full-time position, many of the steps in the search process are similar. An effective search takes preparation and time. Developing a clear strategy and staying organized will contribute to your internship or job search success.

The internship search

Internships and related experiences

Internships help you explore career fields and gain valuable experience. An internship may be paid or unpaid. Your academic department may require that you have an internship and enroll in an internship class, but not all internships are for class credit. In addition to internships, you may encounter other similar types of programs that give you experience in your career field. This is sometimes referred to as "experiential education," which basically means education derived from experience:

  • Internships provide practical experience for beginners to attain experience in a career related to their academic studies; usually this is a one-time experience.
  • Cooperative education also provides experiences for beginners to acquire practice in their career field; usually co-ops cover multiple time periods; the term "internship" is often used for cooperative education experiences also.
  • Service learning combines community service with academics. Learn more about service learning on CASL's website. In addition, some academic programs may require a practicum (practical work in a particular career field) or field studies (a method for collecting data). Field studies may also be done in a education abroad experience. Learn more about the Education Abroad Programs. Students also may gain experience and develop work skills through volunteering (Community-Engaged Learning) and working in part-time jobs (Student Employment Services).

Establish objectives

What do you hope to achieve with your internship? Below are some examples of objectives you may hope to accomplish:

  • Determine the suitability of an occupation and adjust your career focus, if necessary.
  • Satisfy degree requirements. Many academic programs at Missouri State require you to complete an internship.
  • Learn new technology and practice using the technology that is standard in your field.
  • Explore a company or organization; learn about the work environment and culture.
  • Gain experience in the career field and expand your skill sets.
  • Develop professional contacts
  • Investigate desirability of another geographical area. The larger the geographic target area, the greater the probability of it containing more choices within your career field.

Identify posted vacancies and potential employers

There are many places to look for internship opportunities.

There are also many options for locating potential employers.

  • Use Business Journals for the city you are interested in, for example, the Springfield Business Journal.
  • The Business Journal Book of Lists for your desired city
  • Telephone directories such as Yellow Pages
  • Internship books from area libraries
  • Networking contacts within the target geographical area

What's in a name?

Some organizations may think they need a special program for internships. They may, in fact, hire college students under a different label such as summer hires, college relations, or part-time positions. When searching for or contacting a company about internships, know these other terms to increase your probability of gaining information.

Academic credit

To receive academic credit for a position, you will need to coordinate through your academic department. Find out who the co-op or internship advisor for your department is and schedule a meeting. You will need to know the specifics of your internship position so your advisor can best advise you on what is expected and how much credit the internship is worth.

Application procedures

Just as an other job, follow the company's application procedures exactly. Keep copies of all completed forms, résumés, and letters associated with each position you have applied to. Approximately two weeks after submitting your application materials, call to follow-up. Keep record of what you have done. Be sure to include the date, method of contact, contact name and title, company/organization name, and the response you have gotten from them.

Prepare for interviews

The Career Center website has information about and tips for the interview process. You may also schedule a Mock Interview in our office. Do not interview with a company for practice. Not only is it a waste of the company's time and money, it is unethical.

In short

  • Determine opportunities suitable to gain experience in your career field
  • Develop a list of potential internship employers in your target geographical area
  • Apply early in the semester preceding the desired work period (preferably 6 month in advance)

Internship forms

If you have any questions concerning internship requirements or qualifications for your academic major, please contact your faculty internship advisor.

Need to record your internship information? The Student Learning Plan and all information for recording your internship experience is now on Handshake.

Learn more about how to record your internship information in Handshake.

Internship programs under the Fair Labor Standards Act

The U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division created this fact sheet that provides general information to help determine whether interns and students working for “for-profit” employers are entitled to minimum wages and overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Job Search Guide

This Job Search Guide, created by LinkedIn, provides tips on starting your job search, discovering jobs, and getting the job. The average job search takes approximately six months (Dept. of Labor). Have you started your job search process?

Learn about the LinkedIn Students App (available on Android and iOS).

Job Glossary

This job glossary, by LiveCareer, has key definitions concerning job searches, employment, and careers.

The glossary is updated regularly, so it is an outstanding source for learning a quick current definition. It also has links to find details, samples, and more information. 

The job search

Much like searching for an internship, a successful job search is a process that requires preparation and time.

  • Determine your career objectives
  • Prepare for the job search
  • Research employers
  • Research geographical locations
  • Use a variety of search methods
  • Follow up
  • Keep records
  • Be persistent and realistic

Establish objectives

When developing your career objectives for a job search, doing a self assessment will help you determine the fields in which you will find you belong.

  • What are your skills and abilities?
  • What interests you?
  • What do you value? Be sure to prioritize your values (i.e. location, salary, benefits, etc.)
  • What careers fit well with your personality?
  • Do you have a natural ability that would be helpful in a specific career field?

You may also find it helpful to participate in some career exploration.

  • Job shadow
  • Informational interview
  • Career research
  • Industry research
  • Research on geographical locations
  • Knowledge of career requirements

Materials for the job search

  • Professional answering machine or voice mail message and email address.
  • Résumé. You should have a traditional résumé as well as a scannable or electronic résumé.
  • Job search letters. These are letters tailored specifically for different positions and companies.
  • References. Be sure to ask the individuals for their permission before listing them as a reference. You will also want to be sure to provide your references with your résumé and information on the positions and companies to which you are applying.
  • Information for job application forms. Applications often ask for information that résumés may not include, such as elementary school and supervisors. Creating a separate file to keep all the details in one document will enable you to locate the information quickly and easily for online applications, or to print it out to take with you in case you need to complete a paper application.
  • Some industries will require a portfolio. You should have one both in paper and in the digital format. A portfolio may include, but not limited to:
    • Résumé
    • Transcripts
    • Test results (GRE, MCAT, LSAT, etc.)
    • Letters of recommendation
    • Class projects
    • Writing samples
    • Professional licenses
    • Certificates and awards
  • Thank you letters. Always send a thank you letter after contact with an employer; its good networking practices
  • Practice interviews. You can schedule a practice interview appointment with the Career Center. You can also utilize friends and family. Ask for feedback and carefully consider suggestions.

Research employers

There are various options available when it comes to researching employers.

  • Go to the company directly
    • Conduct informational interviews of current and former employees
    • Annual reports/company marketing brochures
    • Company internet site
  • Use the library
    • Journals
    • Newspapers
    • Books
  • Internet
    • Hoovers
    • Thomas Register
    • Chambers of Commerce
    • Search Engines

When researching a company, there are some questions you should seek the answers for.

  • What is the organization's mission statement?
  • Does the organization meet my needs?
  • What services/products does the organization provide?
  • Is this a growing organization?
  • What benefits are offered?
  • Does the organization have other locations?
  • Has the organization been in the news lately?
  • Does the organization have divisions/subsidiaries?

What's in a location?

There are some things to consider when it comes to relocating:

  • Demographics
  • Cost of living
  • Local job offerings and industry growth
  • Climate
  • Housing, education, health-care, religions and other community issues


After you submit your résumé and other application materials to an employer, contact the employer within 5-10 business days to confirm receipt of your information. Use this as an opportunity to also reiterate your interest in the position and company. Ask abut your next step in the hiring process.

After you interview, send a thank you letter within 24 hours. In the letter, reiterate your interest in the company and position. If you know the employer will be making a decision immediately after your interview, send an email message to insure quick receipt.

Keep records

Keeping good records enables you to know who, when, how, and for what position you contacted the organization. It will help you show the amount of time and effort spent on job search as well as allow you to quickly see any comments the employer made, if you should contact them, and if so, when and how.

Here is a spreadsheet to help you organize your search (created by Allyson Hoffman, Eckerd College).

Final thoughts

  • Be persistent and realistic
  • Be positive and remain optimistic
  • Take a proactive approach
  • Remember the job search can be time consuming, hard work, and stressful
  • Rely on a good support system

Long-distance job search

If you are looking for a position outside of your area, here are some resources that can help you.

On-Campus Interviews

Lists of interviews that are updated often. Check back to see what information sessions or interviews have been added.

Salary Information

The negotiation process actually begins in the interview. In the interview is where you tell the company about yourself, your accomplishments and what you can do for them.


More and more jobs are being offer in 'hidden' markets, learn how to utilize connects in the industry to find those jobs.