Top Ten Tips For Applying To Summer Internships in 2018

Now that January is (finally) over and the new school semester has begun, it’s time to get serious about summer internship applications! Finding an internship for the summer can be challenging and nerve-racking. The truth is, there are TONS of well-funded summer internships available for students interested in going to medicine and public health. Your job is to do your research about these internships and apply. Just apply! Follow these tips on successfully applying for a summer internship.

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1. Ask Yourself: What Do You Want?

A mistake I made as a freshman in college is randomly searching on the internet for summer internships before taking the time to understand what I really want. There are A LOT of internships out there, but you want to focus your limited time and energy on applying to positions that match your career interests and excite you. Before scrolling through Google search pages, ask yourself: What do you want? Here are a few questions to get you started in thinking about what internships to apply to:

    • What do you want to get out of this internship? (mentorship, money, research, career guidance, etc.) For example, if you want a paid experience for the summer, prioritize those summer internships that offer stipends.
    • Where do you want to complete your summer internship? Abroad? In your hometown? Does the summer internship offer relocation and housing support if needed?
    • Do you want to work in a lab, an office, or work directly with people?

2. Visit your College’s Career Office

Now that you have some idea of what you are looking for in an internship, I recommend talking with advisors in your college’s career office for help in picking internships to apply to. Often times these advisors know the people in charge of certain summer internship programs, so they can put in a good word for you. Plus, college advisors can often tell you about internships that you would not find on your own. Remember, these advisors are paid to help you. Use them!

3. Research Online

Obviously, the internet is a great resource for searching for internships! Check out myHCN’s list of top summer internships for students interested in health care and public health. Take note of internships that move you and seem like a good fit for you. There will be internships that seem good but maybe its based in another state or maybe the research in on diabetes and you want to do cancer research. Don’t immediately dismiss internships that don’t match your criteria. You might be pleasantly surprised. 

4. Make A list of 8 to 10 Internships and Mark Deadlines!

After doing extensive research, make a list of the top ten internships that you want to apply to and note the deadlines of when each application is due on a separate column. This will help make sure you hand in your applications on time.  Also note the number of recommendation letters each application requires and whether the program requires a transcript and/or processing fee. When applying to multiple programs, organization is key.

5. Ask for Recommendation ASAP

Now that you know the summer internships you want to apply to, it’s time to ask for recommendation letters from your professors, supervisors, and mentors. Choose people that can speak to who you are both academically and personally. Don’t be shy to asking anyone for a recommendation letter - people WANT to help you succeed. The more you wait, the less time the person has to write you a great letter. 

You want to give your recommendation letters ample time to write a strong letter for you, so start asking for letters as soon as you have your list of internships.

Remember that professors can submit the same letter to multiple programs you are applying to. 

6. Send Transcripts Immediately

Don’t wait until the last minute to send transcripts! I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen applications get delayed because the student’s transcripts have not been received by the program. For some programs, it is fine to submit your unofficial transcript, which you can download yourself and send in. But other programs want an official transcript, which you will have to get from your college’s Registrar office. Official transcripts can take one to two weeks to be processed and sent. I highly recommend getting your transcripts out of the way before starting on your essays just in case you have to resubmit again.

7. Group Similar Essays

Before actually writing, check the essay questions and see if there are similar questions in different applications. If two programs are asking about your motivation to go into medicine, then you can write one essay template that answers the question for the three programs - saving you time. Just be sure that you still personalize each essay to show why you are the right fit for that specific program.

8. Just Write!

The questions on these applications are often open-ended and ambiguous. Rather than overthinking your approach to the essay and wasting time, my advice is to just write. Spend one hour free-writing and see what you come up with. Write from the heart and don’t limit yourself. Some of it you will delete. But you can use the rest as a starting point to a fantastic essay. Getting your ideas on paper is a better use of your time than just procrastinating and waiting for the “perfect idea.” There is no perfect idea. Start writing and give yourself time to edit and refine later. Writing is rewriting.

9. Be Personal and Detailed in Your Essays

How to stand out in the sea of G.P.As and Dean’s Lists is to have an impactful essay. Don’t just write, “I am interested in public health because I want to help people lead healthy lives, and I am excited about the career prospects.” Share a personal story - an incredible class you took about infectious diseases or seeing a loved one struggle with hepatitis C - that shows the reader why you are excited and qualified for this internship. Don’t be afraid to share the obstacles you have faced and how you overcame them.  

10. Proofread and Get Feedback

This step separates the stellar applications from the mediocre ones. You have to proofread your application package. It’s that simple. If your essays are sloppily written because you did it last minute, you are not making a good impression to the admission committee. Use your campus writing center to get further feedback on your essays. Ask your friends and family for advice. Do whatever it takes to send the best application possible. 

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