Prepare for Your Internship

image of professionals on puzzle pieces

Checklist: Six Steps to Get you Started

    1. Start the Process Early
    2. Determine What you Want to Gain from the Experience
    3. Prepare Application Materials
    4. Prepare for the Interview
    5. Conduct Informational Interviews
    6. Begin the Search for a Quality Internship


1. Start the process early

Good internships are competitive and it can take a semester of searching to land an internship. Many national programs have lengthy application processes and early deadlines.

Attend a Career Center Interviewing Webshop to get started in the right direction.

 Part I (7:48)
Interview Webshop Part I
Part II (8:13)

Interview Webshop Part II

 Part III (10:13)
Interview Webshop Part III


2. Determine what you want to gain from the experience

Define your learning objectives. The most critical element of your internship is the learning agenda which you should set up with a supervisor at the beginning of your assignment. This agenda should target specific skills and competencies that you wish to acquire and demonstrate. The learning agenda is what distinguishes a short-term job from an internship. Your objectives can be as general as observing a particular work function or industry to confirm your career interest or they may be more specific like developing a defined skill set and acquiring hands-on experience. It is important to think about the type of experience you want and then choose the internship program that will best meet your objectives.

Learn about the Internship Edge (1:09)
Internship Edge


3. Prepare application materials

Prepare a resume by attending a Resume Workshop or by viewing the Career Center’s Online Resume Webshop. In addition, you can:

    • Develop a portfolio if your field of interest requires it.
    • Identify and contact faculty who will be willing to write letters of reference.
    • Request official transcripts in preparation for programs that require them.
    • Prepare to write essays/cover letters as part of the application process.
    • Have your resume critiqued during the Career Center’s resume critique drop-in hours.


4. Prepare for the interview

Be prepared to talk about your career objectives, strengths, weaknesses, school projects and developed skills for an internship interview.  The Career Center can help you with this process at one of our Interview Webshops , by practicing online with our mock interview program Big Interview, or through videos in our Career Resource Library.

Top 10 Interview Mistakes (3:50)10 Interview Mistakes
Get to Know the Interviewer (1:06)Know the Interviewer


5. Conduct informational interviews

An informational interview is a lot like it sounds. Informational Interviews are not an actual interview for a job, but rather, a way of getting valuable information about your field(s) of interest.



6. Begin the search for a quality internship

The Career Center can support your search for an internship through a collection of virtual and face-to-face resources. To get you started on your search you can:

    • Review the Career Center's tips on What Makes a Good Internship.
    • Post your resume on SpartaJobs with the Career Center.
    • Visit the Career Center’s collection of internship sites to search databases of local, regional, national and international internship opportunities.
    • Read our books available in the Career Resource Library.
    • View the Internship Video Series to learn internship strategies from SJSU students, faculty, and employers.
    • Check with your academic department for leads to other possible internship opportunities; many departments keep binders of internship positions.
    • Talk to professionals in the field, join student professional organizations, and tell your own personal network of family and friends about your desire for an internship opportunity.

Look around and find a good fit for you—one that provides an environment and experience consistent with your learning goals.