Even in one of the top degrees for the highest-paying business careers, gaining real-world experience as a student is important for having strong job prospects after graduation. Completing a summer internship is one way students in a bachelor’s degree program in marketing can improve their future job opportunities. Keep in mind, though, that you can’t wait until summer arrives to get around to searching for an internship position. The most sought-after marketing internships – the ones that are most likely to help you build standout connections in the industry and lead to permanent job offers – are highly competitive. Depending on the position, it can take several months to go through the application and hiring process and secure a marketing internship.

Can It Ever Be Too Early to Begin Your Internship Search?

When Is the Best Time for Bachelors of Marketing Students to Begin Looking for Summer Internships

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You should start looking for internship opportunities “as early as possible,” especially if you’re interested in working in a competitive industry like the pharmaceutical industry, according to the Public Library of Science. Because marketing interns find opportunities in all industries – pharmaceutical, healthcare, legal, entertainment, retail and more – you should keep in mind that different industries may be more likely to start the internship hiring process earlier in the year than others. If you want to work as an intern at a government agency where you will require a security clearance, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigations, then it’s important to apply as soon as possible so that you are leaving enough time to complete the background investigation process before the internship begins.

Some colleges recommend that students begin looking for a summer marketing internship six to eight months in advance. This means that, if your semester ends in early May, you should already be starting your internship search as early as the start of your preceding fall semester. Sure, it may seem in September or October that next summer is a long way away, but as your courses pick up speed, you’ll soon find that the time is going by quickly. Starting your internship search early means you will be one of the first to find open positions and can avoid missing deadlines by waiting too long to begin looking at job postings. You will also have plenty of notice about job fairs and recruitment events at your school that can help you get your foot in the door with a company where you would like to work as an intern.

Remember, your prospective employer is looking for you, too. Most schools don’t have strict deadlines for companies posting internship openings, but they do offer guidelines to help companies and organizations plan for hiring interns. Employers are often encouraged to publish internship descriptions no later than February first and stop accepting applications around the middle of March so that they can make hiring decisions early enough for an internship to start shortly after summer break begins.

Of course, until you have an internship locked in, you’re going to want to keep searching for new openings. You can do this by setting up relevant alerts from job search websites or by regularly checking your school’s internship listing resources.

The Process of Applying for a Marketing Internship

Getting an internship lined up isn’t something you can cross off of your to-do list in an afternoon. The internship application process is a long one that consists of many different stages.

When you find a marketing internship opportunity that appeals to you, you must first gather your application materials. You will need to write a resume and cover letter that is relevant to the internship position you’re interested in, which will require you to do some research on the company. You may need to secure letters of recommendation from an instructor or to ask their permission to list them as a reference. Completing applications can be time-consuming and tedious, but you should approach each new opportunity with fresh eyes and a freshly tailored cover letter that shows how and why you could bring value to the individual company.

If the hiring manager believes you are a good fit for the company, you will likely be asked to interview for an internship position, just as you would for a permanent job. Depending on the size of the organization, the size and scope of its internship program and the pool of candidates, there may be multiple rounds of interviews conducted by different people within the organization and done over the phone or face to face.

Marketing internships may be paid or unpaid, although there are certain criteria that must be met to ensure that an unpaid intern does not count as an employee under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. A paid internship will come with an offer that outlines the terms of the internship and pay rate, along with any additional benefits. For example, some employers with a robust internship program that draws candidates from outside the region may provide housing for the duration of the internship, while others do not.

It can take as long as one and a half months to hear back from an interested prospective employer about your internship application, particularly at companies like Google, where internships are competitive and highly sought-after, Business Insider reported.

Additional Resources

How Do Internships Add Value to a College Degree?

What Should I Know About Internships While Earning My Degree?

Will I Learn About Marketing in General in a Bachelor’s Degree Program or Can I Focus on Particular Areas Within My Degree?

What Websites Should I Know How to Use When Starting a Marketing Program?