How many internships should you apply to? (minimum)

Updated on March 30, 2023
How many internships should you apply to

Some rough estimates show that every year around 300,000 applicants manage to get an internship in the USA.

But with nearly 19 million college students and over 5.5 million unemployed, getting an internship in the United States can be somewhat of a challenge.

You should apply to 5 to 10 internships per day to maximize your chances of success, especially in big cities like New York, Los Angeles, or San Francisco. Applicants usually report that internship hunting took them months, as well as a lot of effort in tailoring their resumes. 

An internship at the right company is an excellent way to jump-start a career. In the past, internships were reserved primarily for medical graduates.

Nowadays, countless companies in various sectors benefit from hiring interns that often become full-time employees.

Here we take a look at what the data and scientific observation can tell us about landing an internship in the USA.

Is it hard to land an internship?

Students with lower grades have a harder time landing an internship. Due to a large pool of candidates, companies can afford to take the best-performing students as interns.

Company popularity is another key factor at play – the more popular a company is, the more candidates apply for internships.

In this scientific publication by the University of Southwestern Louisiana, the researchers point out that students who managed to land an internship had significantly higher grades. The publication points out that gender does not seem to be a deciding factor.

The biggest demographic applying for internships is college and university students. Since the majority of them don't have previous (relevant) work experience, grades seem to be one of the major deciding factors.

The size and popularity of companies also play a big role. For example, big tech companies such as Microsoft, Google, and Amazon have thousands of applicants each year.

The most sought-after companies for internships are usually found in bigger cities. So location matters as well, with some sources showing that New York is the most desired city by applicants.

How do you increase your chances of getting an internship

How do you increase your chances of getting an internship

While studying hard and getting good grades at college will be major deciding factors, there are certainly a few other good practices that you can follow to increase your chances of landing an internship.

1. Tailor your resume to every company

Building an excellent resume can take trial and error. But applicants often report that they landed their dream internship only after tailoring their resume for every specific internship they applied to.

List your educational and professional accomplishments in chronological order. But also take into consideration any additional assignments, scholarships, and volunteering related to the position you are interested in.

If possible, add any quantifiable data and results that you have achieved – this will distinguish you from other applicants with vague resumes.

2. Use relevant keywords in your resume

Many companies use software that filters applications by keywords. It is recommended to use keywords that are relevant to the position you are applying for.

You can find them in the internship application under the requirements section, such as “You are a good fit for the role if you:”, “What you need to have:”, etc.

3. Use networking and social media to your advantage

It is hard to attend networking events and seminars when you have to study hard all the time.

This is why having a LinkedIn profile can prove to be useful, as there are countless recruitment specialists and talent managers that can help you.

Besides, it is a good idea to follow the social media profiles of the companies you are interested in. This way you can gain access to their intern recruiting events.

4. Seek guidance

Make sure to ask your relatives and friends if they have any acquaintances that work in the field you are pursuing. Having the right connections can be the stepping stone you need to reach your goals.

While it’s unlikely that they will be recruitment specialists, you can ask them how they landed this job and if they were a part of the company’s internship program. Also, such connections would look great on your LinkedIn profile.

5. Research smaller companies

If you think that you have no chance to get an internship at a major company, then consider researching smaller companies and start-ups – it would be easier to land an internship at such a company, even if you have no previous experience.

Who knows, you might end up at a company that will be just as big as the well-known household names a few years down the line.

When to apply for internships?

Successful interns share that the best time to apply for internships would be during junior year, so you can land an opportunity during the summer before senior year.

This allows you a better perspective on what you have to work on once you return to school.

For example, you can apply from August until December during junior year because the lists for most summer internship programs become full by spring.

Even candidates that have excellent resumes are likely to be put on a waiting list once the initial applicants have been selected. However, if you make it to the interview stage, don't be afraid to show character and negotiate your salary!

How many applications does it take to get an internship?

Candidates that have landed internships share that they had to apply to over 250 positions before they were called in for a beneficial opportunity.

While this seems like a large number, remember that all of the efforts will be worth it once you are in the company that you are interested in.

Keep in mind that you are able to use the same resume format for multiple internship applications. What may slow you down during this process is having to register on individual platforms for each separate company.

It is recommended that you keep track of your accounts by creating a file and logging in all information that you have provided, as well as the resume format you have sent.

At a later point, you may want to revisit those applications and update them with your latest educational and professional achievements.

You can start with 5 applications a day and increase to 20 after a while if you are not getting any responses. Yes, it is important to apply to as many internships as possible.

However, remember to give yourself enough time to review the information you are providing – ensuring a polished, outstanding resume can help you with getting noticed by recruiters.

Do not underestimate your earliest attempts – this could very well be your shortcut to an internship.

Is it okay to apply to multiple internships at once?

It is recommended to apply to multiple internships. As positions are limited, make sure to apply to as many internships as possible.

Some companies take more time to review applications. Others, as reported by netizens, can call you in for an interview as soon as a week after they have received your application.

Is it possible to do two internships at once?

While some internships require you to stick to one company, most opportunities will allow you to be an intern for more than one position. Here are a few good practices:

Look for part-time internships – this will give you more flexibility and provide you with additional time to do research outside of work.

Try to get one full-time internship in the field you are interested in, and a part-time one that would complement it. The second one should not be as straining and time-consuming.

In case the two schedules overlap, contact your project manager to ask if your working hours can be adjusted. And, of course, if starting a second internship is allowed.

My advice on getting an internship

As I explained, it can take you several months and hundreds of applications to land your internship. That is why you need to have patience and consistency on your side. Don't give up and don’t lose hope.

In the end, if you are unable to land an internship, there are other ways to gain relevant professional experience through volunteering, for example.

Written by:
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galin office topics square
co-founder / office worker
Galin has been an office worker for 8+ years. He has dealt will all kinds of situations at work, so he knows a thing or two about management, co-worker relationships, and productivity. Galin specializes in digital marketing and dabbles in web development.

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