Hot Internship Summer – How to Land the Perfect Opportunity

By Eimear Holton
April 19, 2023

Trying to find a summer internship that’ll make all of your friends jealous? Tired of going back to your old high school job where you’re bagging groceries or flipping burgers? Here’s a quick guide to help you land the best summer internship, with a payoff that will keep on giving. Start looking early, be intentional in your search, and make it easy for them to hire you.

Beat the crowd

Being on top of your summer job search is the key to landing the most desirable position. It might seem counterintuitive and a bit of an overkill when we’re just now in April, but you should shift your focus on next summer when you’ve settled into your fall semester, as many companies and programs close their applications and begin the interview process early in the year.

For example, The National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s summer internship program recruits from mid-November through March 1 for paid positions at the world’s leading biomedical research institute—you can bet the competition is real. Beginning your search in October may seem too early, but it is a reasonable timeframe to allow yourself enough time to complete and polish the sometimes-lengthy application materials.

If you’re looking for an internship for Summer 2023, you’re not completely out of luck. Know that the pool to pick from is smaller, though, especially for larger companies and internship programs. In this case, we recommend reaching out to companies directly to share your interest and inquire to see if anything might be available.

Short-term thinking vs ​​long-term vision

Why even bother with going through the hoops to do a summer internship? It’s tempting to take a summer job at a restaurant or coffee shop, but that short-term mindset can impact your long-term vision. The payoff of having experience on your resume at a company related to your field or at a company you could see yourself working for after graduation will pay off in the long run.

There are intangible benefits of a summer internship that many fail to see when facing this decision.

  • The name recognition of a reputable organization on your resume will provide a base for your future employers’ thinking— “if company X has employed this person before + I trust their judgment = I’d like to hire this person”.
  • You could find that you enjoyed and excelled so much in your summer experience that you end up getting hired there straight out of your undergraduate.
  • If you plan to go to some kind of graduate program you have de facto references for your application in addition to your undergraduate professors. This will also greatly benefit you if you plan to apply to large fellowships, such as the NSF GRFP.
  • You will learn a lot about what type of career you want (or do not want) when you enter the workforce.

Taken together, the return on investment of a summer internship is not just another line on your resume, but a springboard for a successful career.

Also, know that internships can be either paid or unpaid, in-person or remote. When hunting for opportunities be sure that you check what categories they fall under.

Make it easy 

Put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes – their priority is to hire a summer intern they can trust. In many ways, it’s the simple things that influence their decision. Showing up every day ready to learn and make a contribution to the company’s mission is first and foremost but; being on time; dressing appropriately, and; just being an overall positive addition to the team are all also essential.

Your interview is their tiny window to assess if you can simply meet these basic requirements, even before they ask you anything technical about your knowledge of science. The interview is your chance to show them that you won’t be a source of stress but maybe just the right burst of energy their team needs during the dog days of summer while getting some of their back-burner projects across the line.

Interview essentials:

  • Be on time (period). If you have an emergency and need to reschedule, communicate this at your soonest opportunity.
  • Look professional—here are some tips on how to dress smart casual from Indeed
  • Be yourself, be authentic, believe that you can get the internship

When interviewing online, it’s also important to do a trial run with a friend or family member to check your setting (a messy bedroom background is not the vibe), that your camera and mic are working, and that you feel comfortable in front of the camera so you can focus on the interview questions. 

Do the above, and you’re already one step in the door to impressing the employer.

Where to look? (The DMV and beyond)

To conclude, here are a handful of resources you can tap into to search for internships. We also recommend searching for individual companies and checking their job boards. If there’s no internship posted on their site, try reaching out to the company’s HR representative or through their contact form to show your interest.

General Internship Resources:

Government Agencies/ Government-Funded Opportunities: