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Internships for college students took a hit during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unemployment rates rose to a high of 16 percent in the summer of 2020 and many summer internships were cancelled or converted into “virtual internships.” According to a Cartus survey, 27 percent of employers canceled internships and 30 percent decided to go virtual with their 2020 program. 

However, as the economy bounces back and businesses reopen their doors, internships are once again available for college students and recent graduates. Not only can an internship provide valuable on-the-job experience for a student’s industry or profession of choice, but they are excellent places to network and discover new job opportunities. 

Here are the five best internships for college students right now: 

    1. An internship that sparks passion. There is no single “best type of internship for college students.” The best type of internship for a particular student is one that inspires passion, relates to their college major, and offers a chance to try out a career path before actually committing to it. This can spare students from spending a lot of time and money on a career choice they’re not sure about.
    2. Large companies. Bigger companies are more prone to offering internship options. Look at career resources like Glassdoor, or early-career-specific resources like Handshake. No matter what your major is, or what your interests are, there is an internship that’s right for you. Google hires interns, so does Facebook. The US government hires interns for the Departments of State, Defense, and Justice. The National Endowment for the Humanities hires interns, as does Americans for the Arts. And if you’re interested in finance, Bank of America hires interns, as does Morgan Stanley.
    3. Business Operations. The top industry seeking interns is Business Operations.  The most in-demand skills for this field are project management, business administration, scheduling, customer service, and economics. Other major industries seeking interns are: Marketing (seeking social media skills, as well as marketing, Adobe Photoshop, Facebook, and market research) and Engineering (seeking electrical engineering, computer engineering, AutoCAD, mechanical engineering, and project management skills).
    4. Spring internships. If there is a specific company you want to intern with, take the time to find out what their application process is, and get your entry in early.  The earlier the better, too: Postings for internships tend to peak in March.  Employers tend to respond to requests for internships by around May, so if you haven’t heard anything by then, it’s best to look somewhere else.
    5. Paid internships. It goes without saying that a paid internship is more desirable than an unpaid one. However, paid internships are not just preferable because they put money in your pocket. If a company pays their interns, it shows that they are willing to invest in new talent and will likely have employment and advancement opportunities for interns who do well in their program. 

Pro tip: Don’t sleep on your resume and references 

When considering you for an internship, most employers will want to see your resume.  Also known as a Curriculum Vitae (or CV), your resume shows the jobs you’ve held, the coursework you’ve taken, and the job experience you have. List the skills you’ve gained from your past experiences, such as mentoring, any major school projects, or other internships you’ve held. You’ll also want to include a cover letter, in which you can tell the employer about your passion for the job. They may also want you to provide letters of reference, which should be written by people that know you well and can testify to your good character.

College graduates are facing a long, uphill climb when it comes to securing employment that meets their qualifications and requirements. That’s why RecDiv created an online job platform specifically to connect HBCU students and alumni with employers looking to hire diverse talent. RecDiv is the first online job platform created specifically for students and alumni of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. RecDiv connects employers with qualified candidates from HBCU and provides students with the career tools and resources they need to succeed. Check out our site to learn more.