Participating in an internship is a great way to get hands-on, real life job experience in the field you're interested in pursuing. But what if the company you'd like to work for doesn't have a formal internship program? Be proactive and pitch your own idea for a job shadowing/internship experience. The company is likely to be impressed by your initiative.
Learn About the Company
Once you identify a company you want to intern with, learn as much as you can about the operation, including its internal organizational structure. If there's a particular division or department you're interested in, familiarize yourself with the responsibilities there. You can glean information from the company's website and possibly download an annual report to review. If you know someone who works for the company, employ their help in your research.
Write a Proposal
Draft a proposal describing what you want to do as an intern. Be specific and emphasize that you plan to be an active contributor during your time with the company. For example, if you’re interested in a marketing career, your proposal should include an overview of your interest areas, such as communications, copywriting, graphic design, advertising development and scripting. Indicate the timeframe you are available, and if you’re proposing the internship for college credit, coordinate with your school guidance counseling department to ensure the parameters of the internship are in line with the school's requirements.
Pitch Your Idea
Contact the company's human resources department and explain why you want to intern with the company. Emphasize what you like about the business and why you think an internship would be a valuable opportunity. Highlight your personal and professional traits, such as dependability, dedication, attention to detail and organization. If the HR director is open to the idea, ask for a personal appointment to discuss the parameters of your proposal.
Interviewing for an internship is much like interviewing for a job. Arrive at your appointment early, dressed professionally, and with several copies of your resume and your internship proposal on hand. Be prepared to answer questions about your educational background and areas of interest as well as provide information about your work history. The company will want to know what you expect to get out of the internship experience, so be ready to highlight your areas of interest. Emphasize your ability to take direction and ensure the employer you will be more help than hindrance.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.