Create Your Own Internship

Students that think in terms of impact rather than internship postings open up a world of possibilities where they can gain meaningful and challenging experience. Moreover, creating an internship demonstrates to future employers that you know how to take initiative and think outside-the-box.

The absence of a formal internship program or postings should not deter you from inquiring, but you should be prepared to provide a well-conceived proposal if they are interested in your offer. Consider the following as you prepare a proposal for your unique internship:

Consider what you bring to the table.

Equally important is to think about how the organization or cause will benefit from your work. Your skills go beyond those learned in class and in previous work experience. Think about your campus activities, community service, and any independent endeavors you have taken on. Your College Career Mentor can help you flesh out these skills and experiences.

Make a list of organizations to contact.

  • Consider what you want to gain from the experience, how you would like to achieve that, where you would love to work and why. The Career Community Advisors are your local specialists in many fields - use them to help you build this list! Arrange informational interviews to learn more about an organization and their needs. Identify the appropriate individual or department who has the power to hire you.
  • Typically, internship listings will be listed in the “Human Resources,” “Careers,” “Job Opportunities” or even “Volunteer” section of a site. Sometimes the “About Us” or “Join Us” page will have relevant information.
  • To determine which staff member is best suited to your query, call the main number and ask the receptionist: “I’m interested in an internship for this summer. Does your organization host interns? If not, is there someone on staff I could speak to about setting one up?”

Write your message or script.

Whether you are cold-calling or sending a blind e-mail, be prepared to clearly and concisely articulate your reasons for contacting them. Introduce yourself, be specific about the project you want to undertake, highlight why you’re the person for the job, include your dates of availability, and—if awarded—don’t forget to mention that you already have funding! If you plan to make a phone call, make an appointment to rehearse your pitch with a career education staff member or even a friend.

Curate your professional image.

Before reaching out to new contacts, be sure you are representing yourself in the best light. This means:

  • Creating a polished resume, in PDF format, with a filename that includes your name
  • Ensuring your outgoing personal voicemail message is clear and professional
  • Adding a signature line to your outgoing emails
  • Creating or updating a LinkedIn profile
  • Ensuring that your online presence is appropriate by searching your name and considering the content of your public profiles

Carefully prepare your materials for submission.

nce you have outlined your proposal, be ready to submit a well-crafted resume to illustrate your most relevant strengths and skills for the proposed project and organization. If you forgot to make an appointment with us, don’t worry; we offer regular resume drop-in advising (see website footer for details)!


  • Don’t forget to follow-up with a phone call or e-mail within 1-2 weeks of reaching out to an organization. A polite message is expected and reinforces your interest and commitment.
  • Promptly respond to emails or voicemails, and send a thank-you note within 24 hours of any networking or interviewing activity.

Self-initiated internships can be extremely fulfilling—they can provide an outlet to be creative in exploring your interests and also allow you to establish interdisciplinary ideas where they otherwise may not exist. We look forward to helping you develop these ideas!