Getting an internship can be tough — especially if you’re looking for your first one. These tips will help you not only navigate the competitive world of internships, but prepare you as you start applying:

  1. Do your research

While you don’t need to know intricate details of each company you apply for, it’s helpful to know the basics and how the respective businesses excels in the industry. You’ll want to know what the company does, but make sure you also understand their audience(s), too.

Can you connect the company or the position you’re applying for to an experience you’ve had in the past? That will benefit you during the application process. Has the company been recently covered by the news? Take note. Even if you don’t think these things will be talked about in the interview, knowing more about the company and how you’ll fit in can help you feel more confident about the process.

  1. Use your connections

While online searches are one of the most popular job searching techniques, there’s something to be said about using good old-fashioned connections. Reach out to professors in your field to see if they know of any opportunities in your desired cities. Even asking your friends or peers could yield potential leads.

  1. Cast a wide net

The sky is the limit when it comes to the amount of applications you can turn in. The more applications you send out, the more opportunity you have to  get an offer.

If you come across an internship that requires a certain level of experience, don’t be afraid to send in an application anyway. The worst thing they can say is no; it’s worth a shot to convince the hiring manager that you’re a star recruit!

  1. Stay organized

When sending out applications, it can be easy to lose track of deadlines or which applications you have already sent. Keep a running list to stay organized and stress-free throughout the process.

Include a list of references that you are using for each application; be sure to let them know that they may be contacted so that they aren’t caught off guard.

  1. Polish and review your resume

It’s often helpful to tailor your resume to each application. While this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to start from scratch each time, make sure to emphasize skills or past experiences that will be directly relevant to the internship you’re applying for.

Triple-checking your resume for grammatical errors is always a good idea, but it can also be helpful to get a few a second or third opinion. Pass it off to some friends or professors and kindly ask them for their feedback.

  1. Practice for the interview

Talking through and preparing for interviews will help you be more comfortable and confident. Often, college campuses offer services that can help you prepare for interviews. If that isn’t an option, have a friend read off practice interview questions to help you practice ahead of time.

  1. Following up after interviewers

It is always a good rule of thumb to thank those who have spent time interviewing you. By writing a note or sending an email, you’re not only checking in, but reminding them how interested you are in the position. This will help keep your name top of mind.

  1. Don’t get discouraged

If you are rejected for a position after you’ve interviewed, don’t get too stressed. If this happens, make sure you thank those who interviewed you and ask about areas that they believe you could improve in. Doing this not only allows you to get some pointers from professionals, but opens the door for you to apply again in the future.