How To Find Internships (That Are Actually Worth Your Time) 

I sat down to write this article about how to find internships, and had to take a moment to clear my head of the stereotype that I associate with that word.

It’s easy to think of interns as ambitious and naive worker bees whose eagerness makes them easy to exploit. Maybe they are sent on humiliating coffee runs or forced to perform mind-numbing tasks for no income. 

That perception of internships is outdated… mostly. Unfortunately, there are still companies out there that take advantage of internships. 

But high school and college students seeking internships today have more tools at their fingertips to find positions that provide them with valuable, career-driving opportunities and compensate them for their time. 

The question is, how do you tell the good opportunities from the bad ones, and where do you find internships in the first place? That’s what we’ll cover in this article. 


What to look for (and what to avoid) in an internship

Before we get into the different methods you can use to find internships, let’s run through some important factors to take into consideration as you’re hunting.


Paid vs. unpaid internships

Ideally, you’ll find an internship that will pay you at least a base rate for your work, and still provide you with all of the other perks of an internship, like training, assistance finding your next role, and networking opportunities. 

However, when you’re trying to find an internship, you may come across an opportunity that seems ideal, except it doesn’t offer pay. My advice: Proceed with caution. There’s no harm in looking into the opportunity to see if its benefits really outweigh the no-pay factor. 

I’ll have more tips later in this article on how to vet these kinds of opportunities to see if the perks are truly worth it.


Opportunity for school credit

In some cases, an internship can also speed up your educational career, either by replacing one of your high school classes or providing you with credit toward your college degree. 

The best way to find internships that offer this perk is through your own school’s career center—more on that later in the article.


Skills you can use in the future

In some ways, an internship can be the first stepping stone in your career journey. If you know what you want for your future, then choosing an internship in your industry can help you learn skills that will land you better jobs later on. 

However, be careful not to put too much pressure on yourself—you are not locked in to the company or even the industry where you end up interning. 

The key is to find an internship that will equip you with skills and knowledge that will serve you well, no matter which path you end up following in your career. 

In addition to learning how to use specific technology or carry out specialized processes in a given field, make a list of soft skills you’d like to improve upon at your internship. Time management, organizational skills, interpersonal relationships—abilities like these will be valuable in almost any role.


The timing is right

Before taking on an internship, make sure the timing is right for your schedule. I’ve written before about the challenges of balancing school and work, and the same lessons apply here. 

Internships can be an excellent career move, but if the schedule is going to make it hard to keep up with your school work or care for yourself, it may be best to wait until your schedule is more flexible.


It has potential for future work

Many people transition from an internship directly into a full-time job; on internship job descriptions, many businesses proudly state that they frequently place interns in permanent positions. 

If you end up liking the company you intern for, then leveraging it into a full-time (better paid) job is a major benefit. 

Even if you don’t end up working at the same company where you intern, consider whether the role will look good on your resume, bolster your portfolio, and help you stand out in interviews. 

And to that end, here are more resources that can help you with all that when it’s time: 


Red flags to watch out for

In addition to looking for all of the perks I’ve listed above, there are also some red flags that should make you think twice about an internship opportunity. 

These include: 

🚩 Vague job descriptions: The job description should provide a clear outline of your tasks and responsibilities. Beware of internship job descriptions that urge you to “wear many hats” or “be ready for anything” without giving specifics. 

🚩 No concrete benefits or structure. An internship is an exchange—you offer your work, and in return, you get training, education, and job opportunities. Make sure the company clearly outlines the benefits they offer, with concrete examples showing how the internship will help you reach those goals. 

🚩 Bad reviews from others. Websites like Glassdoor and Fishbowl allow people to leave reviews of companies they’ve worked for. While you may not be able to find reviews from previous interns, you can gauge whether the company might be trouble based on the consensus of previous employees. You can also reach out to people who have worked at the company previously on LinkedIn or through the alumni network at your school, and send them a polite message to get their insights on the company. 


How to find internships: Resources and strategies

Now that we’ve covered what you should be looking for in an internship, it’s time to start hunting. Here are the best resources and methods for finding an internship that will take your career to the next level:


Start within your school and community

Though the internet makes it possible to find internships all over the world, the best place to start your search might be on campus or in your neighborhood. 

If you’re a high school student interested in an internship, speak with your guidance counselor, or ask a teacher or administrator whether your school has career fairs or training programs. 

For college students, there’s a good chance your school has a career center, which is an excellent place to investigate internship opportunities. They may also host internship career fairs, or have affiliations with certain businesses that provide credits or have good track records with students. 

If you don’t attend college, or if your own college doesn’t have adequate resources to help you find an internship, it doesn’t hurt to look into other schools in your area that might host fairs or allow non-students to apply. 

Both high school and college students can use local resources to find internships as well. Libraries, community centers, career offices, and local networking events (which you can find on places like Eventbrite or can help you find good internship opportunities. 

You should also look on your local government website—many city and state websites list internship and job opportunities, and provide other resources for finding local work experience.


How to find internships on LinkedIn

There’s a good chance you’ll be using LinkedIn to find jobs in the future, so it doesn’t hurt to get your feet wet on the platform by using it to find internships. 

LinkedIn has a sophisticated search function, and you can use its filter settings to look for jobs that are marked as internships (or even just entry-level—why not?). 

To get started, you’ll need to type anything into the search bar (try your industry, or just type a random word), then click on “All Filters” once you look at the results. This will pull up a window where you can filter your search for internships: 

How to find internships on LinkedIn using search filters

Finding internships on LinkedIn won’t take long, but in order to apply, you’ll need to fill out your LinkedIn profile as best you can, even though you may not have much experience yet. 

I’ve got tips on how to do that, too. Check out these articles: 


Handshake: A job search engine for students

A screenshot from the Handshake website shows the sign-up form

Handshake is part job-search engine, part social network, meant specifically for college students looking for their next job opportunity—including internships. 

You need a .edu email address to sign up, but once you’re in, you can browse through thousands of jobs and peruse posts from companies, alumni, and  other students looking to connect.


Ripplematch: The Gen Z job board

Ripplematch is similar to Handshake, in that it’s a job board designed to connect young adults with employers. However, this company also uses automation and AI to match job-seekers (or internship-seekers) with companies that align with their skills and goals. 

Ripplematch says it places Gen Z workers with top companies like Reddit and Amazon, and it organizes its job opportunities by major, to make it easier to find an internship in your field:

A screenshot from Ripplematch shows job posting categories organized by college major.


Wellfound: Internships and jobs with startups

A screenshot rom shows job listings at startups

Startup companies and internships go hand in hand. These kinds of businesses often need as much help as they can get, and their limited budgets often mean they are eager to take on internships. 

You may also have a good chance of leveraging the internship into a full-time job, as a startup will be happy to hire someone they don’t have to retrain. A buzzy young company could be a great place to learn new skills and get an inside look at what it’s like to build a company from the ground up (something that could serve you well if you’ve ever considered starting your own business).


Traditional job boards 

Beyond the specialized job boards listed above, you can also find internships listed on most major online job search engines as well. This includes: 


Pitching your own internship

Maybe you have a specific idea of what kind of internship you want, or you have a list of dream companies that you want to work for—but you can’t find any good matches using the resources listed above. 

In such a case, consider coming up with your own internship idea and pitching it to a company directly. 

If you have some companies in mind already, start by looking on their website and social media pages to see if they have job listings—they may have internships listed, or at the very least you can see what kind of skills they are looking to bring on. 

When you find a business that seems like a good fit, it’s time to craft your pitch. Don’t rush this part—you want to show your potential employer that you’ve thought this through, and present it in a way that demonstrates your drive and initiative. 

Start your introduction by providing background details on who you are and what you’re studying or where your interest lies—keep it brief but engaging. 

Then, mention what you’re looking for in an internship, and what skills you already have that you’re bringing to the table. Here are a few examples of the kinds of phrasing you might use:


I’ve been studying graphic design as part of my degree, and I’m looking for internships that would allow me to hone my skills on social media campaigns.


I’m looking forward to a career in sports medicine, and I know providing support to your team of physical therapists in an internship capacity would help me take the next step in my career. 


I saw that your office is hiring a new campaign manager and a number of new staffers. I’ll be receiving my degree in political science this May, and I’d love to lend my support to the campaign as an intern. 


You may want to include a few bullet points mentioning any awards, groups, certificates, or volunteer experiences you have that would be relevant, and provide ample ways for them to contact you. 



Finding the right internship isn’t just about getting a foot in the door; it’s about making sure the door opens to something worthwhile. Look for opportunities that come with benefits beyond a paycheck

Though the internship you choose won’t set your career in stone, it could well be the stepping stone you need at this point in your journey.