The end of the semester is rapidly approaching. Aside from worrying about finals and finishing the semester on a high note, students are now eagerly making summer plans. For most students this involves looking for a job or internship when your schedule is more flexible from a hectic school schedule. Most employers literally see hundreds of applications weekly for very competitive positions, so what can you do to set yourself apart from the other candidates?

One: Utilize your network and available resources

Let your professors, friends and common acquaintances know you’re interested in an internship. First of all, this is key because you never know who they know, what their network is and how their resources can benefit you. The internship I have lined-up this summer I got with the help of my professor. I spoke with him frequently about my goals and aspirations and one day he forwarded me an e-mail about an upcoming opportunity with CBS. Something as simple as one small conversation can plant a seed in which you may reap the benefits of later.

Two: Maximize Career fairs

5 tips for getting that perfect internshipEach school usually holds a number of career fairs every semester. Typically, they provide a list of employers that will be attending and potential job opportunities available. In most cases there aren’t designated interview spots and you’re competing for a few moments of the employer’s time. But, have you ever considered sending the employer an e-mail letting them you know you’re interested in the job/internship? Did you look for a number and call? Or better yet if it’s a local company why not visit? A simple Google search will provide most of this information for you in a matter of minutes. I called and e-mailed a company I was interested in for the last Career Fair I attended. They were so impressed with the extra effort they requested a copy of my Resume in advance and set an interview time with me. A gesture as small as a call or e-mail can be enough to set you apart from other students and get you on your way to that perfect internship.

Three: Plan Ahead

If you know you are interested in a particular internship you should be actively checking the company’s website for any application deadlines as well as any essays or letters of recommendations required. Often times this information is posted months in advance. Also, the earlier you submit your application the better. In most cases interns are selected on a rolling basis and employers have a set number of slots. As the old saying goes, the early bird catches the worm. Don’t miss out on an opportunity because of a lack of planning.

Four: Look the part

When attending a career fair, it should go without saying (despite what I’ve seen) business casual is best. A nice dark blue, black or grey blazer, suit is best. You don’t want to wear anything flashy, form fitting or distracting. Even though we are all students there is no excuse for a lack of professionalism. Looking the part also refers to your overall presentation. Your resume and cover letter should be critiqued in advance, should be clear, concise and organized with no spelling or grammatical errors. Also, you should print it on Resume paper to really give it a more polished look and help it stand out.

Five: Do your research

Before going into any interview you should be familiar with the position you’re applying for as well a generic information about the company. You should expect questions asking you to draw from previous experience and how that experience will help you with this internship. You should be able to clearly articulate what value you bring to the company and how you can be an asset as well as what you hope to gain from the internship in achieving your ultimate career goals.