Summer Internships, Oh My!

Photo by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash

There are some college seniors already thinking about the job search for when they graduate next spring. (Good for you!)

There are probably less college freshmen, sophomores or juniors that are contemplating summer internships. (And if you are, you rock!)

I also bet that there are very few high school students who are thinking about summer internships. (I need your autograph if you are…)

Even if you’re one of the above, I bet that you are NOT thinking about it now in November. (It just started snowing, right?)


… Enter the summer internship. It’s a GOOD IDEA, so read on to learn why and what to do!


What is it:

  • It is the opportunity to work at a company for 3-4 months.
  • For interns, this is a great way to get real-world experience to put on your resume. You also get to potentially save some money, and if you’re good enough, you just might be considered for full-time work (thereby saving you the stress from the job search upon graduation). Last but not least, it’s a great way to taste-test and see whether you even like what you think you want to do.
  • For employers, it is a great way to see who has potential to get hired in full-time later. It’s a wonderful opportunity to get fresh perspectives on projects and workflows since students come in with no preconceived notions of how things are “supposed” to get done. It’s also a great way to give back to the community and allow such opportunities to be provided to motivated students.


Let’s get the bad news out of the way. Not every company offers internships, and even if they do, they don’t advertise those opportunities. Further, if there are any summer internships, the competition can get quite intense. Employers may be deterred from offering internships because they may not have the resources available to train and supervise a new hire, let alone an intern who is only there for a few months. 

But this isn’t meant to stop you. Hopefully, this will inspire my readers to get cracking and prove the system otherwise. Just because a company doesn’t have internships, doesn’t mean they never considered them, so why not reach out to them? You never know what could happen if you start the conversation.

Beyond “entry-level” responsibilities: 

You may not have had a “real” job yet, so you wouldn’t even know where to start with ideas for companies, but here are some to get you thinking:

  • Perhaps you noticed the company’s social media is lacking. Same with situations like old-looking websites or poorly translated ones. You could offer to support their Sales, Marketing, HR or IT teams with your practical suggestions.
  • You are studying engineering and notice a company is doing something you studied last semester. Explain what you learned and if you have an idea for something they may be able to incorporate. Don’t worry if it’s feasible, or if they might laugh at you – the important point is to provide an idea that YOU came up with, no matter how silly.
  • You’re studying Accounting and Japanese, and are pretty sure that the company you want to connect with has a headquarters in Japan. Reach out about what you know in both subjects and see if they can use your skills while communicating with their HQ.
  • … the ideas really are limitless. Think of your particular situation and experience, and explain to the company what YOU can offer for THEM.

Don’t think it will be easy, though. The typical job search is always tough, and a summer internship search is even more difficult because there are fewer opportunities AND you don’t have the experience of rejection just yet. Hang in there – what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. 

“So what am I supposed to do?”

  1. Timing: Don’t worry about timing just yet, but do get started now for next summer. (Note that it doesn’t matter when you read this, even though I wrote it in November. Start now!) Each industry and company hires at their own pace. The common denominator in the US is that the summer vacation is approximately May-August. However, you may also be a part-time student and interested in being an intern throughout the year (i.e. a couple days a week).
  2. Research: I know most of you are worried about what you actually want to do with your lives. (And if you agree, then take a peak at this advice as well as my tough love for you.) But stop thinking too much and just pick ONE THING. Pick one industry or one geographic area, and research those companies.
  3. Send out your resume: I’ll be writing a blog post about resumes, but there is a plethora of other articles on the web. Find some and start sending. I’m sure your school also has a career advice center that you can visit for help. 
  4. Create a profile on my job board: this will make it easy for me to promote you when I speak with global employers about the importance of internships. 
  5. Promote your Japanese/English language skills: Global companies need bilingual/bicultural people, so be sure to promote your current classes and certifications (if any). You may have to get creative in how you phrase it, but again, be sure to convince the company what YOU can do for THEM.
  6. Prepare for the interview: I wrote extensively about this here, but basically it’s a list of what to prepare in advance, what to bring, and what to expect if you will be asked about your Japanese/English bilingual/bicultural skills.
  7. Most importantly: DO NOT EVER expect anyone to hand you an opportunity on a silver platter. It’s not that easy. You will have to put work in, so get cracking 🙂

In the past, I’ve had a high school junior work as an intern for me, and even though I wasn’t sure what to do exactly, I gave her one project… which led to another… which led to more. This happened because she was willing and open to try any tasks, and she excelled at them. I also let my other employees give her projects to work on that would help them, and give them “management” and training experience at the same time. In addition, I also had college interns that worked 2-3 days out of the week throughout the year (not just the summer). Being flexible on both sides works nicely, and it’s a win-win for all!

I often talk about the importance of internships so that my global companies can start a) understanding why it’s a good idea, and b) advertising it. Be sure to create a profile on my job board so that I can promote your profiles!

Photo by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash

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