The million-dollar question that is currently running through the minds of thousands of civil engineering students: How do I find a civil engineering internship?
And with good reason.
Finding a good internship can set you up for early career success as a civil engineer.
Here are seven actions you can take immediately to find your next civil engineering internship:
1. Ask your professors for help
Professors in civil engineering departments, as well as administrative staff, often get contacted by alumni who are looking for summer interns, making them the best people to start with in your search. While your school may have a job board of some type, I recommend going straight to your professors and asking them if they know any alumni or other business owners whom you can reach out to directly for internship opportunities.
2. Go directly to your college alumni association
Sure, your professors might connect you to some interested alumni, but why not go to them directly? You can probably go to your school’s office of alumni relations for a directory, or maybe even a specific civil engineering graduate alumni. You can then reach out to these alumni directly or through social media sites like LinkedIn, inquiring about summer work.
3. Go directly to your high school alumni association
While maybe not as extensive as your college alumni community, your high school may also be able to connect you with engineering alumni. Reaching out and building relationships with alumni can be powerful, because they are often open and willing to help fellow, younger alumni.
4. Ask your parents
I know, you’re groaning as you read this, but believe it or not, this is what worked for me. OK, so I didn’t ask my parents, but when I was in high school and it was nearing summertime, my mother said, “I know a boy in your school whose father is a civil engineer. I am going to call him and see if he has summer work for you.”
The rest is history.
Many parents talk to a lot of people in the community and can often help you make career connections. After all, that’s the kind of thing parents are for, right?
5. Connect with your local community
One way to build relationships and ensure a vibrant network that can provide career opportunities year after year is to network and become active in your local community. At this point, it could be the community where you go to school or the one back home. Join or volunteer in some community groups like your church, chamber of commerce, soup kitchen, etc. By getting involved, you will create opportunities for personal growth as well as career opportunities (like internships) – through relationships.
6. Get online
OK, so you are a college student, you probably live online. When I say “get online,” I am not just talking about Snapchat or Facebook – I am talking about building a strong LinkedIn profile (here’s mine) and getting active in LinkedIn groups that can help you land an internship. There’s an art to this. You can’t just start a LinkedIn account and expect companies to start calling you. Click here for specific strategies for maximizing LinkedIn as a civil engineer.
7. Knock on the doors of civil engineering companies
“Excuse me? My parents and I are paying $200,000 to get a civil engineering degree and you want me to go door-to-door to find an internship?” Yes, actually, I do.
Most civil engineering students won’t do this, which gives you a distinct advantage. Prepare a killer resume (click here for resume-building help). Put on a suit and tie. Get in your car. Drive to local civil engineering firms and sell yourself.
Ask if you can talk to someone about how you can add value to their firm this summer through an internship. Focus your pitch less on you and more on how you can help their firm grow.
There you have it. Seven actions you can take to find a civil engineering internship. You may need to do more than one at a time, or you may discover an eighth, but no matter what, the best thing you can do is start today!
Anthony Fasano, P.E., is the founder of The Engineering Career Coach website, which has helped thousands of engineers develop their business and leadership skills. He hosts The Civil Engineering Podcast, and has written a bestselling book for engineers entitled Engineer Your Own Success. You can download a free video series on his website that will give you the tools needed to immediately improve your networking and communication skills by clicking here.