How to Land a Business Internship

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Updated on March 16, 2023
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  • Business internships can be a first step in establishing a career in the industry.
  • Many top corporations offer well-established internship programs.
  • Most business schools have resources to assist students in securing internships.

Business internships give students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience and make valuable industry connections, beyond what can be achieved through school alone. Since the 1960s, internships have become a formal part of the business hiring process. Now, internships are an essential tool to help college students launch their careers.

Many successful business executives got their start as interns, including Neil Blumenthal (Warby Parker co-founder), Elon Musk (Tesla Motors founder), Jon Oringer (Shutterstock CEO), Evan Spiegel (Snapchat founder and CEO), and Kevin Systrom (Instagram CEO).

A 2017 survey of college graduates conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reported that close to 60% of respondents interned while pursuing their degree. NACE also reported in 2019 that more than 70% of interns were offered a job, with 4 in 5 accepting the offer.

In today's competitive job market, students need an edge. A bachelor's degree and a high GPA are often just the minimum requirements to land an interview. Even when recruiting for entry-level jobs, employers want to see the work-related experience and industry knowledge, all of which a business internship can provide you.

Internships for Business Majors Offer Clear Benefits

For college students planning to pursue a career in business, here are some of the main benefits you can expect to receive from participating in an internship:

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    You'll gain valuable industry knowledge and professional connections
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    Through hands-on experience, you can develop critical hard and soft skills
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    Many internships offer pay and/or the opportunity to earn college credit
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    You'll get feedback from industry professionals regarding your performance and abilities
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    You'll gain work-related experience you can put on your resume
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    You'll get references for future jobs, which can improve your chances of getting hired

Most Top Corporations Host Business Internships

The majority of medium-to-large-sized businesses offer business internships for college students. From Fortune 500 corporations to startups, companies rely on a steady pool of interns to keep the wheels in motion.

Many high-profile companies receive thousands of internship applications each year, and only a small percentage are accepted. If you can't land a business internship at a large corporation, small businesses are typically less competitive and may provide you with the opportunity to get more out of your experience.

High-Profile Companies With Business Internships

Summer is a popular time for internships. The 2020 intern class at Goldman Sachs, for example, included more than 2,700 summer analysts and 129 summer associates, representing 54 majors from nearly 500 universities.

Although many programs were put on hold this past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some companies now offer remote business internships or have already reopened their in-person programs, albeit in a more limited capacity.

Other businesses have adopted a hybrid internship model in which students work on location a few days a week and virtually the rest of the time.

Popular Online Business Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Applying for a Business Internship

Businesses normally work in cooperation with colleges and universities to set the guidelines for their internship programs. While most internships are available to those currently enrolled at a four-year accredited university, some are only offered to students enrolled in MBA programs.

Typically, all internships must initially be approved by the career services office or an academic department before being considered for academic credit. Business internships generally require the following from applicants:

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    Proof that you meet the minimum GPA requirements
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    Record of participation in extracurricular activities
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    Cover letter
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    Letters of recommendation
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    LinkedIn profile link
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    Online portfolio (if applicable)

Each company maintains its own application process and deadline for submissions, so be sure to confirm these details before you apply for an internship.

Many Colleges Help Students Get Business Internships

Most colleges and business schools have programs in place to help students find an internship. Many schools actively encourage students to complete an internship, with business students often choosing to participate in two.

If you're interested in securing a business internship in college, here are some questions you'll want to ask before deciding on a college or business school:

Does the business department or school offer career or internship fairs?

Do professors help students get business internships through their connections?

Are career counselors instrumental in helping students find internship opportunities?

Are there alumni programs set up to help students secure business internships?

Does the school or department have an online internship portal that posts available internships and guides you through the application process?

Does the school's internship program tie in with study abroad programs?

While most business schools assist with the internship process, some go the extra mile when it comes to helping students land a great internship. For example, the EaC Internship Program at Cornell University matches entrepreneurship students with paid internships at startup companies throughout the U.S. and abroad.

Feature Image: Charday Penn / E+ / Getty Images is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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