Entering Junior: How to get a internship?

<p>I'm going to be a junior this coming fall majoring in ME. So far I have a 4.0 but I didn't spend my summers doing anything to get any experience, all I did was take classes/volunteer around town. I applied to a bunch of different companies last year and all I got was one interview and no offers. I asked around where I was from local firms for the summer and cold calling and no one bit. Now I'm nervous about my soon-to-be job prospects in 2012 and beyond as a student with absolutely no relevant work experience. How do I get my first foray into industry? How hard is it to get a paid internship as a junior from a top 5 ME school? I'm starting unpaid research in the fall, will that help? Any tips would be much appreciated. </p>

<p>I'm planning to enter grad school but I'd still like at least one internship before I finish undergrad.</p>

<p>Have you tried using your school career center?</p>

<p>From my experiences, my best advice is that competitive companies are looking for students that not only have good grades, but ones that also have outside experience in a related club, job, or research organization. I know several people with higher GPA's than I who have been very limited with internship oppurtunites, while I have had an abundant amount. I credit this largely due to the fact that I had prior experience when applying for an internship. With that being said, I think your unpaid research opportunity should help.</p>

<p>Practice interviewing as well. As much as a company likes to see a 4.0, they don't like hiring zombies that have no personality. You need to use the career fairs and other services at your school to your advantage and work on interpersonal skills so that you come across not only as intelligent, but also as a genuinely interesting person.</p>

<p>Thanks for the responses. A couple things:</p>

<p>First of all, I have definitely used the career center. I practice interviewing, I'm personable, and I hate the stereotype that because I have a 4.0 I'm a "zombie." However, that's the problem that I keep having. I'm NOT a anti-social, but the fact I have high grades and no work experience gives the impression that I can't communicate. I understand that if a recruiter sees my resume without talking to me they'd think "Sits in the library alone and never talk to people, don't want."</p>

<p>The problem I have is\ taking that first step into the real world. Again, like gstein said, people with high GPAs but no experience get looked over. I know this and I've seen it first hand. However, everything I've tried has failed in getting that first internship/relevant job. The majority of people I know who have gotten internships before their junior year have either: used their network (ie: parents friends' hooking them up) or have gone back to their native country and done something there for cheap. I don't have either of these options and now I'm struggling to find anything. I've taken up an unpaid research position, and am also looking for possible part time internships during the year to boost the resume for the spring career fair. Still, I don't think the outlook is good for me especially in this economy.</p>

<p>Here's the thing. People don't assume that from looking at a resume, or if they do, they don't discount you for that until the interview. The resume stage is all about qualifications. Interviews are where your personality plays a role. The reason we assumed you are a zombie is because you claimed to have a 4.0 and couldn't get a job. That means there is something else about your application that employers aren't going for, and being a zombie is by far the most likely. If it isn't then that is good.</p>

<p>Now you just have to figure out what that problem is. Methinks you are just another victim of the economy. I found an internship after my sophomore year in ME and only had something like a 3.2 GPA to boot and no real relevant work experience (spent the previous summer working with road crews back home). I just went to the career fair and schmoozed it up with the hiring manager who was in attendance.</p>

<p>Even in this economy, though, someone with a 4.0 SHOULD have an inherent advantage in the market, which still brings me back to the idea that there is a weak point in your application that either you aren't telling us or you aren't aware of. Companies don't assume you have prior experience when you are applying for an internship, after all, where else would you get that prior experience?</p>

<p>Make sure you show professionalism such as sending a follow up email or a thank you note/firm handshake/proper attire. Also smiling helps to create an image that you are friendly and sociable.</p>

<p>I am worried too. I'll be a junior this fall transferring from community college with no experience of any kind. My plan is to take advantage of my schools engineering clubs and career center.</p>

<p>It's the economy stupid. </p>

<p>I hope you appreciate the humor in this post (stupid...4.0 Engineering GPA, ;)).</p>

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<p>I am aware of the ever-present paradox of employers wanting applicants to have experience, yet not giving them said experience to begin with. However, when I mentioned experience I also tied it into clubs, research, and other avenues of "experience". There are many student design teams or even research teams that can get you started on campus -- that's how I started: Engineering Club --> Student Worker Position --> Internships. In many of my internship interviews the interviewer has asked me how I have handled certain situations in the past, most of the time not caring who or what it was for. Most of these internship interviewers are not looking for significant experience, they just want to see that you have handled yourself appropriately in the past in similar situations that might arise while working for them.</p>