Guide to Getting a Business Internship

Created by Henry Steele

By Henry Steele - August 18, 2018
Reading Time: 9 minutes
Reading Time: 9 minutes

When you are in college or about to graduate, you might wonder about whether or not you should take a business internship. Sometimes, when you graduate from college, you may not have sufficient experience to get a full time job. So, an internship may be your best option.

Why Intern in the First Place?

An internship is a program that is offered by many companies to possible employees. Interns can work either part or full time for businesses, nonprofits and even governmental organizations. Internships are very popular with both undergraduate and graduate students. They usually last between one and four months. The goal of an internship is to gain practical experience or research related experience.

Internships can be either paid or unpaid. If the internship is unpaid, there are labor guidelines in the US that companies must follow. Federal law requires if the internship is unpaid, the intern’s work cannot be a benefit to the company economically or be used to displace the work that is done by paid workers. Some states also have specific regulations for interns. For instance, in California, all unpaid interns are required under state law to receive college credit for the internship.

Though becoming a full time employee is not guaranteed at the conclusion of an internship, many employers now use an internship as a method to train and evaluate future workers. A 2009 NACE poll of US companies with interns found that 67% of them were given a job offer when their internship was over.

Types of Business Internships

The type of internship you get depends upon what your major and career interests are. Some of the most common options include these:

Product Marketing Internship

If you are studying marketing, a product marketing internship can give you the chance to learn a lot about marketing new products and services. You will learn marketing basics as you collect data on market trends, analyze and interpret product feedback and study the different marketing strategies of business competitors. This internship is a good chance to understand the many challenges of selling a product in a highly competitive local and global marketplace.

Sales and Marketing Internship

A sales and marketing internship is a role that you will often see at smaller companies and startups where these roles are in one person or department. You will learn about marketing, but also will learn how to sell products directly to customers. From going on sales calls to preparing sales presentations for clients and assisting with new and ongoing sales campaigns, this type of internship will give you many keen insights on the ups and downs of a sales and marketing career.

Business Management Internship

A business management internship can give you great exposure to job skills such as as project management and the analysis of sales. You will likely help with developing tools, conducting business analysis and discussing business strategy with the entire team. You also will get a good overview of what it takes to run a successful business and get a hands on feel of everything from operations to finance.

Business Consulting Internship

Whether you are part of the marketing, HR, management or accounting team, business consulting interns help business consultants to collect data for analysis and recommendations. You also will learn how to improve your problem solving skills and your knowledge of modern business models.

Management Consulting Internship

Whether you are interning for a management consulting company or a financial services organization, you will get a better idea how to research, compile and present information. You also will help in implementing changes to team structure and business projects. This is a good internship opportunity for someone who wants to work in management consulting after earning their business degree.

Business Development Internship

You will help primarily with market research and partnership development. You also will be assisting with business relationships with partners and clients, to contribute to the overall growth of the company. During a business development internship, you will learn about the myriad factors that are involved in building a successful business and also will get a better feel of how to build your own company.

Benefits of an Internship

Getting an internship can be an essential part of a successful business career. Even if it is unpaid, having an internship can be a fantastic experience. Some of the best reasons to consider an internship include.

#1 Gain Work Experience

Many business students in college lack experience and this is the best way to get it. Some of the best experience comes from internships because you will be exposed to many different business roles. You will see and experience various business and management roles that people have in companies and see business life from many perspectives. This is very good for your future career because you will need to do various tasks that involve all aspects of the company once you have a full time job.

#2 Get Hired

The business mindset in the US has changed in recent years. While companies will still hire entry level business professionals, it is becoming more common for them to bring in paid or unpaid interns and ‘try them out.’ If the internships go well, the company may eventually offer you a full time, paid position with benefits. Companies are using internships to increase the likelihood that the entry level workers they hire will be good employees.

#3 To Gain More Understanding

An internship gives you the time to understand what your job is, different tasks and the industry in which you work. Internships will give you the chance to learn more than what you can learn by just taking classes in college. Take the opportunity in your internship to understand all of the tasks that you are given and each new tool that you use. Write things down on the job, ask a lot of questions and watch how successful managers and other professionals do their jobs so you can do the same.

#4 Learn and Watch Successful Professionals

You can learn from the best workers during an internship. It is common for students in internships to be closely supervised by successful people in the organization. As you are working on these projects in the internship, you will have people to look up to and will have a goal you can work towards. You may be able to learn new job skills from these workers, as well as new things about the specific industry. Communication and regular interaction are important to your learning process, so you should ask a lot of questions, and do not be afraid to propose ideas to your supervisors.

#5 Put New Skills Into Practice

In your internship, you can learn new skills and tools without the pressure that comes with being in a full time, paid position. Internships are a time to explore and experiment, and the people who brought you in are aware of this. They expect you to work hard but to make mistakes. Take the new skills that you learn to your next position and find out ways to incorporate them into your business tasks. See also 50 Things Can I Do with a Business Degree

#6 Learn About Different Industries

Many internships last from three to six months. You can learn about different industries in these short term job opportunities. If you spend three months in a marketing position followed by three months in PR you will learn about the different roles and how they interact with other roles in the organization. This exposure to different roles in different industries can help you to determine what your ultimate career path is.

#7 Increase Confidence

Whether you are are working in sales, administration or PR, getting a business internship will help you to increase your confidence so that you can be a better business professional in the future. Confidence in your skills is very important for you to advance in your career. Many business internships help you to grow your confidence through regular practice of business skills and this will also help you in your personal growth.

By the end of your internship, you should have a better idea whether or not you really want to be working in accounting, finance, administration, sales, etc. The great thing about an internship is even if you find out you hate the job you are in, you have learned before entering the full time working world what you do NOT like. It is always better to know as early as possible the type of work that you do not want.

If that happens to you, don’t worry about it. But take the chance to reflect about what you did not enjoy about the internship experience. Use this information as you are making plans for your post-graduation business career.

#8 Improve Your Resume

If a company has to make a hiring decision between a student with a business degree and no experience, and a student with the same business degree and six months of internship experience as a management trainee, it is likely they will go with the latter.

Once your internship is complete, do not just put the job title, company name and your responsibilities on your CV. Also highlight the specific contributions you made to the organization during your time there. How did you add value? Hiring managers want to understand how you got your assignments done, the problems you solved and the impact your work had on the organization.

#9 Gain Valuable Recommendations

If you do a good job at your internship, you probably made a strong impression upon your managers and colleagues. You should have little difficulty getting good references so you can get hired in to full time positions. Just be sure that you ask your supervisors or coworkers politely if they would be willing to be a reference for you later. You can make this reference last by trying to keep a relationship with each of them. Make each contact part of your regular network. You might even ask one of them to be your mentor.

#10 Gain Valuable Feedback

The best way to improve your performance is to ask for feedback from supervisors and coworkers. It is important to not be defensive. If you listen to the criticism offered, you can really improve areas that you need to strengthen and you will be a better employee later.

#11 Make New Connections

After your internship is over, you should have at least a handful of new connections, such as senior managers, clients, other interns, supervisors and coworkers. Each of these people can give you great guidance, advice and support, and possibly help you in your career later. But to take advantage of your new connections, it is important to stay in touch with them. Also, when your internship is completed, be sure to formally thank each one of them for the support and guidance they gave you.

How to Increase Odds of Getting an Internship

To stand out from the other applicants, you will need to have some stellar materials to show the intern hiring manager. Here is what you need:

  • Resume: If you still do not have a resume, you need to get one put together. If you are still in college, this is a good chance to go to the career center. They should be able to assist you in putting together a good resume. They also may have examples of effective resume templates. When you assemble your resume, look at the internship carefully that you want and ensure that you include items that are related to what that company is looking for. For instance, if they seek someone with social media experience, you should include business related experience with major social media networks.
  • Cover letter: A key when applying to a business internship. Always include one with your resume to make you stand out better. The cover letter will give you the chance to convey why they company would be well served to hire you. Be clear about the position that you want and your availability as far as your school schedule.
  • Reference letters: You should have three good reference letters on hands always. It is good to have a professional letter from your previous employer or internship coordinator, a personal reference from a close friend, and an academic reference from a professor or advisor. Always having these available will reduce the hassle when someone asks for one.
  • Online portfolio: If you are asking for an internship with anything related to writing, graphic design, PR or advertising, you might need to show examples of your past work. Having an online portfolio on your site is a good way for potential employers to easily access your projects.

Now that you understand more about what internships are, how to find them and why you need one, hopefully you will have the information you need to give your career a jump start with an internship

How to Find a Business Internship

Now that you know more about the types of internships and the benefits of them, you need to find a good internship. How do you do that? Try these tips:

  • Research and target corporations directly and ask them about any internship openings they have.
  • Search the internship database at your college if there is one. You also can go to your university’s career office and ask for help to find an internship. Many formal business internships are connected with major universities so it is easier for you to find a good business internship.
  • Ask friends, family, parents, professors and mentors if they know of internship opportunities at local businesses.
  • You can just look on Google for internships in your city.
  • Go to career fairs. These are commonly scheduled during the winter or spring break at universities in major cities and on college campuses. Make sure you have prepared a 60 second introduction that describes your skills, interests, motivation and experience. Make sure that you follow up with recruiters you talk to at the career fair.

Now that you understand more about what internships are, how to find them and why you need one, hopefully you will have the information you need to give your career a jump start with an internship.


  • Types of Business Internships. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  • 7 Reasons to Take an Internship. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  • How to Find Internships for Business Majors. (2016). Retrieved from
  • What Is an Internship? (2016). Retrieved from

Henry Steele
Managing Editor
Henry is Managing Editor of He is a seasoned business professional who regularly consults with local business's throughout Southern California. Henry pursued his undergrad in Business and Economics at the University of San Diego and gained valuable life changing experience through a unique internship upon graduation.

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