Look, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking summer internships are over. Or maybe that internships are for only for students because this is how companies justify not paying you for the work you’re doing because you’re supposedly learning while you’re doing your internship. But, while this is not internship season, it’s the best time to get one because no one else is looking for one.
1. This is the time of least competition.
People are getting back into their classes. People are thinking they just finished their summer internships so they don’t need another internship. This is the time when you should be pouncing.
It’s very competitive to get internships because the definition of an intern is they’re qualified for nothing. So the way to increase your odds as a nonqualified person is to compete when there are fewer nonqualified people competing. That will be your big differentiator—you showed up.
2. Students mistake their job at school to be school.
The best time to get an internship is when you’re supposed to be getting good grades because your grades don’t matter. It’s a complete waste of your time. There’s no way to translate that you got straight As in college.
If you’re from a good college, people already assume you’re smart. So if you’re at Harvard, you can just get C’s – your network will get you a good job regardless. If you are from a bad college, no one cares if you got good grades. You’re at a bad college. They assume it’s easy to get good grades at a bad college. So, all in all, grades don’t matter unless you go to graduate school, and that’s a ticket to hell.
So the time that you’re supposed to be in class is a great time to do an internship because getting a C requires very little effort on your part – you have a lot of extra time.
3. The hardest part is getting a company to create one.
It’s actually really hard to manage someone who is qualified for nothing because you have to oversee them so carefully, yet they can produce so little. Your managers have to be careful not to spend more time managing the results than the worth of the results. During this cost benefit analysis, lots of internships are simply scrapped.
The great thing about looking for an internship in September is that companies have already created an internship, and there’s a spot in the company and they know what the intern is going to contribute, but the intern is gone.
In the fall there are vacant spots everywhere for interns, whereas in the summer when someone has to create a new internship because they haven’t had an intern during the whole winter, it’s much harder for a company to figure out where you would fit even if they want to hire you.
When you’re selling yourself in the fall you can say I’ll do exactly what your last intern did. When you’re selling yourself in the summer, you have to make up a whole new role.
4. You need to shift the focus of your school purpose.
Getting a job when you graduate from school is dependent upon the quality of internships you have on your resume. So there’s no point in taking these four years to transition from childhood to the workforce unless you’re going to use the four years to do unpaid work that creates an on‑ramp for you.
Going to classes and learning about history is total BS. If you’re so interested in history, you can do it after work for the rest of your life. Right now, what you need to be doing is focusing on making sure that your on‑ramp to adult life isn’t destroyed by anachronistic educational goals, like being well‑rounded.
5. The time is now.
Look, even if you think every single thing I said here is wrong, there’s no denying that the hot‑shot internships are filled in the middle of the year; banking, New Yorker fact‑checker, Procter & Gamble rotation winner. And at the end of the year every single person in the world is looking for an internship. So it becomes based on who you know. So there’s no denying that the best internships are to be had in the fall.
I’m laying out a really good strategy for you to manage your college career and have a good life afterwards. It’s fine if you don’t believe me and you want to have your own strategy, but it really needs to include getting a great internship right now because there’s no better path into the adult world than a series of internships that knock the interviewer’s socks off.