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How to Convince a Company to Let You Intern Even If They Aren’t Looking

Internships are time-honored traditions for some types of work, but sometimes they’re less popular for other types. People have interned for years at the White House, in not for profits, churches, schools and other businesses. The reason is that it’s a great way to learn the ropes of any new venture you want to be part of. If you want to learn how to bake the best bread in the world, intern for the best baker in the world.

But, how do you find internships for companies that aren’t even looking for one? It’s not as hard as you think if you are willing to offer your services free in exchange for learning. The key, though, in terms of the government and following their rules, is that free internships especially must benefit you (the intern) more than it benefits the business owner. However, you can make this a win-win for you both if you present it right.

Research the Company

When you’ve chosen a company you want to work with, get to know everything you can about them. That’s the only way to identify where you can assist them and help them improve something about their business using your skills, while they teach you a new skill.

Send an Exploratory Letter

When you’ve identified a company that you want to intern with, use the research you completed to compose a letter to them explaining what you can do for them and why you want to do it. Include what you know about them in the letter, and let them know that you really want to work with them.

Ask for an Interview

Within your letter, ask for an interview. Tell them you’d love to talk to them further about how you can help their business or organization at no charge to them for a specific amount of time. Having a start and end date for your internship is important, because you don’t want to work free forever.

Update Your Resume

When they ask for your resume you want to be prepared. Keep your resume updated and ready to go for any opportunities that arise for you. You can keep your LinkedIn profile up to date too and send potential internship opportunities your LinkedIn information. But, you want a paper resume to give to them during your interview.

Demonstrate What You Can Already Do

Experience comes in many forms. Show what you can already do and how it translates to being able to help the business that you want to intern with. For example, if you’ve built a good social media following for yourself, there is no reason you can’t build a good social media following for that business.

Update Your LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn gives you an amazing way to demonstrate your skills to the public and to share with others. Use every part of LinkedIn including your resume, videos, images, publishing articles and more to make people take notice of you.

You can literally create an internship just for you and customized for you. That will help you advance yourself if you seek out the business, make your offer, and then follow through. Do what you say you will do, and better than they are expecting.

Now that you have a fabulous internship to go to, it’s important to live up to the expectations you set for yourself before nabbing the opportunity. Even with the low or non-existent pay of your internship you can parlay it into a full-time job, or at the very least connections to people who can recommend you for full-time work later.

1. Introduce Yourself – Even if you are shy, introduce yourself to your co-workers and don’t be afraid to speak to your superiors either. You’re there to learn, so you want to get to know the right people in order to learn the most during the time you’re with the company.

2. Set Goals – With your supervisor you should set some goals for your internship. What will constitute success for you during the time there? Will you learn new software? Will you create something new? Make a goal and set out to reach it during the internship.

3. Ask Questions – If anytime was a good time for questions, it’s during an internship. If you don’t ask questions, a lot of the time you won’t learn anything. Never be afraid to ask questions of people. As an intern your job is to learn all you can from those around you.

4. Be Professional – Even if everyone else dresses down, sends Facebook messages during work, and otherwise acts unprofessional, you should not. Don’t miss work. Internships are not long-term jobs and missing work during one will be frowned upon. Be as professional as possible so that the higher ups remember you and want to hire you.

5. Stay Organized – Organizational skills are very important during your internship. You won’t be there very long, so you shouldn’t even have time to be disorganized. Instead, due to the length of time you’re there you should seek to be more organized than normal.

6. Be On Time – The worst thing you can do when you’re new someplace and an intern is to be late for anything. If it cannot be avoided due to a wreck on your way there, always call in to make sure people know where you are. But, try not to have these things happen too often during your internship because people will end up not trusting you.

7. Keep Track – Every project you work on and finish is something you can add to your portfolio. Keep track of your projects so that you can show them to future employers, as well as share with your supervisors so they know at the end of your internship exactly what you accomplished.

8. Network – Take some time to socialize and network with your co-workers and higher ups so that you can have an infrastructure of people to tap into for future jobs or just to ask questions of. Be friendly and not too clingy. Offer something in return and you’ll be golden.

Working in an internship can be a very trying time. You may feel as if you have no idea what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, or just feel really nervous. But, it’s okay to feel that way. Everyone feels nervous in a job, even an internship, because they want to make a good impression. If you follow these eight tips you will be successful in your internship.

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