How to Get an Internship

6 steps to obtaining your academic internship
Procrastination is the enemy.

I started my academic internship at Metal Toad Media this week. I had originally planned to do my internship this summer, while I was only taking two classes. Then I remembered how bitter I was going to school full time last summer so I wasn’t too upset when the couple of leads I was following didn’t pan out.

I rode my bike instead and had an awesome summer. I returned home from Cycle Oregon and a couple of weeks before school started, it occurred to me that I had signed up for the internship class and I might want to actually get an internship to go with it!

I looked at job sites and talked to some people but I wasn’t terribly excited about what I found. There are lots of design internships but I really didn’t want to be designing as my primary activity.

Metal Toad was not looking for interns, but from what I read and heard, it sounded like a place where I could learn a lot. And they do most of their development in Drupal, which is something I want to learn a lot more about and they’re not afraid to live on the edge of new technology. I went to the contact form on their site and wrote a short email, stating that I was a senior at the Art Institute, looking for an internship and what I had to offer.

I was surprised to get an email from CEO Joaquin Lippincott only ten minutes later. We had coffee a few days later and here I am.

There are a few things about this experience worth highlighting:

Ask and you shall receive. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. Don’t die wondering.

Variations on this theme have gotten me a lot of amazing opportunities, including the chance to sing on stage with one of my favorite local musicians, on my birthday, in front of my mom and all my friends.

The place you want to work might not be looking for you…but maybe that’s just because they don’t know how awesome you are. Ask for what you want. The worst that can happen is nothing.

Don’t wait till the last minute.

Yes, I know. It seems I didn’t really follow this advice and that’s sort of true. But I also have a year before I graduate so I’m not so desperate that I have to take the first thing that comes along. After a spring term job fair, I had one contact literally hounding me to come work for him. Desperation is never an attractive quality, whether you’re the intern or the hiring company. This particular company wasn’t in a field I’m interested in or qualified for–they just wanted someone to update their website for free.

Know what you want

I’m incredibly fortunate to have a scholarship that allows me to attend school full time and a smokin’ hot sugar mama who gives me a break on my rent. I wasn’t limited to seeking out paid internships so I can continue to eat. This allowed me to focus on finding a position doing something I’m actually interested in. My primary goal was to surround myself with smart people who know lots more than I do about Drupal and were willing to share that knowledge (this last part is key!). I feel I’ve definitely succeeded on that front.

It’s only been a couple of days, but I already have that overwhelmed feeling that usually precedes gaining +10 to geekiness.

This post is part of the thread: Tech Journey – an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.

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