Internships for Credit
Students considering internships should check their college's deadline for applying if they are interested in receiving credit for an internship. Most colleges will not award credit after the fact if you haven't registered in advance for the internship experience. Since most colleges will not secure a specific internship for students, you will also need to reach out to employers well in advance of the semester when you plan to do an internship to land a position.
When to Apply for a Fall Internship
For fall internships, you should consider contacting employers before you leave your college area in the spring if you will not be able to return until the fall semester. October is a good time to start reaching out to employers for a spring internship. If an employer indicates that they are not yet ready to consider applicants, then ask when would be the earliest date that you might be considered given your high level of interest in the opportunity. Local slots for unpaid internships are often filled on a first-come, first-served basis, so more opportunities will be available if you apply early.
Paid Summer Internships
Competitive paid summer internships will have deadlines as early as the late fall. The most common period of time for employers to screen applicants for paid internships will be during the period from January to March. Many colleges have resources available to help fund students who will be working at an unpaid summer internship. Check with your college's career office for these deadlines during the fall.
Don't worry if you are late in the process since many internships, especially unpaid ones, can be arranged as late as a month in advance of the summer or semester you are targeting. Often, this will involve students reaching out to employers who may not have even posted an opportunity (since many of the advertised internships will be filled at this point) and convincing them that you would be worth engaging as an intern. Networking with alumni, teachers, coaches, family contacts, neighbors and local professionals is also a great way to find an internship. If you need to earn some income you may be able to arrange a part-time schedule for your internship and pair it with a paid part-time job.