Looking for an internship but don’t see a posting that meets your interests, needs, or preferences? Create your own opportunity!
by Janine Mathó, Co-Founder & CEO, ExponentialChangemakers

Many companies – especially newer non-profits or start-up companies – and even those that are considered “SMEs” – small to medium enterprises that are beginning to grow – do not post internships.  But this isn’t necessarily because they aren’t open to hiring interns nor because they don’t need extra hands.  They may be so sparsely staffed or have competing priorities.

Regardless, there are ways that you can land an internship with an organization that doesn’t have any openings posted.  Although it will take creativity and perseverance, it also means you might be the only person brave enough to reach out to them – and, therefore, the only candidate!

Here are 4 steps to take if you want to try to land an internship with an organization that doesn’t have an opening posted.

Be clear about what you want to learn.

Being clear about what you want to learn will help focus your attention on where you can best achieve that learning. Consider:

  • Why do you want an internship in the first place?
  • Why at that company? What might you learn from working there?
  • What gaps in your skills, knowledge or qualification are you trying to fill?

Maybe you want to take your classroom learning about green business to the next level by implementing some sustainability measures in a real-life context. Or put your campus community-building skills to work with a new community. Or leverage your Tik-Tok skills to support social media for an aspiring brand. Once you identify what you want to learn, double-check whether the company you have in mind is the right place to learn this – if not, do some research and find other options.

Be clear about how you can benefit the company. 

Hiring managers want to know how you can help them. Research the company and the sector they operate in:

  • What problems are they trying to solve with their product or services? For who?
  • What challenges does the company or its sector face?
  • What are competitors doing that they’re not doing but you think they should?
  • What’s the connection between the above and what you want to learn?

Based on your research & what you want to learn – what unique skills, knowledge or qualifications do you have that can help them? Take time to think about your transferable skills and knowledge – like some of those in the examples above.  

Make sure your LinkedIn profile and/or resume are up-to-date and reflect the above.

Reach out with a clear offer.

First, use LinkedIn, company websites, or other job postings to an appropriate contact.  This may be a recruiter in Human Resources, for example, or someone who works in the area you want to support, like marketing, finance, or sustainability. Although it’s always helpful to leverage professional relationships to get to the right contact, you can also reach out cold. 

Secondly, craft a very brief and very clear email and attach your resume – outline:

  • who you are and why you are writing;
  • what you would like to learn;
  • the unique skills, knowledge and qualifications you bring to support them;
  • and a request for a 20-minute informational conversation with your contact details.

That’s it! Of course, there’s a lot that goes into every job search, that’s one of the reasons we’re here. Join our community to learn more! We support women who want to change the world from finding their first job through the first 5 years of their careers.