How Many Internships Should I Apply To?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated February 23, 2021 | Published November 12, 2020

Updated February 23, 2021

Published November 12, 2020

Internships are a great way to earn professional experience and build your resume while going to school. If you're applying for internships, you may be wondering, "How many internships should I apply to?" Understanding how many internships you should apply for and how often you should be applying can increase the likelihood that you'll secure an interview.

In this article, we discuss why internships are important, how frequently should be applying and common mistakes to avoid when applying for internships.

Related: Definitive Guide To Internships

Why are internships important?

There are several reasons why internships are important. Here are a few you may want to consider:

  • Develop skills. Internships allow you to develop real-world skills and learn in a professional setting. It helps you to strengthen your communication skills and improve your business etiquette and workplace collaboration skills.

  • Build your resume. An internship in your field can give you the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in a work environment, enhancing your resume with skills that are appealing to employers. This can help to position you as a competitive candidate for job openings.

  • Network professionally. An internship in the field you're planning to enter can allow you to build your professional network. By networking while you're in school, you can build relationships with professionals who may be able to help you find a job after graduation.

  • Gain professional feedback. Internships give you the opportunity to gain professional feedback from someone who works in your field and improve your skills.

  • Identify what you enjoy doing. Another reason internships are important is that they allow you to experience the career you're planning to pursue. This can help you confirm what you most enjoy about that role, while also establishing what you don't like. This allows you to confirm you're following the right path or could compel you to shift your career path in some way.

Related: How To List Internship Experience on a Resume

How many internships should I apply for?

You should apply for a minimum of 20 internships. As you're preparing to apply, start by creating a spreadsheet of all the companies that are hiring interns. Your list should include at least 50 companies. You can then filter to find the companies to which you can offer the greatest value. Of the ones that are most targeted to your skills, you should identify the top 20. When you apply, try to align your experiences with qualifications the company is looking for in a candidate. Consider the skills you acquired through jobs as well as those you earned through volunteer experiences or leadership roles at college.

You may also want to use job-related social media sites and connect with the hiring manager and different team members at those companies. Consider reaching out and asking questions about the company or even asking whether you could meet for coffee to learn more about their roles or the industry. By developing relationships with managers or employees inside the company, you can increase the likelihood that you will obtain an internship.

Related: 40 Great Internships for College Students

Mistakes to avoid when applying for internships

If you're looking for an internship, there are some mistakes you want to be careful to avoid:

Sending generic applications

A common mistake that internship applicants make is sending the same cover letter and resume for each internship that they apply to. To increase the likelihood that you will get an interview for the internship, you should customize your cover letter and resume for every position you apply for.

Review the job description carefully and look for ways to align your experiences with what the employer is looking for. You should also focus your cover letter on one or two relevant accomplishments that the employer would be interested in learning about. The employer will notice that you took the time to customize your application materials and your resume will stand out from that of the other applicants.

Applying for only a few internships

Internships are often highly competitive, with many applicants applying for a single position. To increase the likelihood that you will earn an interview and, ultimately, an internship, you should apply to 10 to 20 internships every two or three weeks. If you start interviewing for positions, then you can scale back and apply less aggressively. That said, until you are hired for an internship, you should continue looking, as you never know when the ideal position will become available.

Related: How To Ask for an Internship: Steps and Tips

Neglecting to follow instructions

The application you submit for the internship is the employer's first impression of you. It's important to follow instructions in order to ensure a positive first impression and be considered for an interview. For example, an employer may post information about an internship on a third-party website, but may also state in the job description that applicants should apply on the company website directly. By carefully following instructions, you can increase the likelihood that you'll be considered for the opening.

Waiting to apply

If you want to be considered for an internship, it's important to start applying early. For example, if you want an internship in the fall, you should begin sending your materials in June or July. If you know you want an internship in the spring, you should start applying in October or November. Pay close attention to the internship application deadlines and make sure you have all of your application materials submitted well in advance.

Not only does applying early reflect well on you and your organizational skills, but it also gives you more time to use social media to network with people at the company and increase your likelihood of earning an interview.

Failing to follow up

Set up a spreadsheet or put on your calendar the dates that you apply to each interview and then schedule a time to follow up one week after applying. This can help to emphasize your interest in the role and can compel the employer to take a closer look at your application. Following up gives you the opportunity to confirm, well in advance of the deadline, that the employer received your materials and inquire whether they need any other information from you.

Browse more articles