Since it’s officially April, internship application season is underway. Everyone is looking for the dream job, and deadlines are right around the corner. Take it from someone who’s been there, it’s all more than a little overwhelming. A few key steps (and a few deep breaths) can make the internship search a whole lot easier:

1. Figure out what you want

Early in the process, decide what you want to get out of your internship. Do you have specific career goals? Make a list of must-haves for your internship, or construct a dream internship. For example, your perfect position might be a marketing internship at a large firm downtown, or an internship in business development at a nonprofit that serves children. This will make it easier further down the line when comparing opportunities and making final decisions.

2. Start researching

Create a list in Excel of all the internships you are aware of in your city. If you have a couple of dream companies in mind, check them out on LinkedIn. When you’re looking at a company page on, scroll to the bottom for a list of similar companies. These are determined by location and industry, so they are usually pretty good matches to your interests. Start a list and look at some company websites for internship listings.

5 Crucial Steps For Researching Internships

3. Create an Excel spreadsheet

Make a document with notes about each internship, including pay, location, position, and any other information you can. Having this information on hand will prevent you from looking at a company’s website later.

4. Reach out

If a company doesn’t have internships listed, send a quick email expressing your interest. Sometimes companies don’t officially list internships, but they are available. If there is an internship listed, apply online and then send a follow-up email to emphasize your interest–and mention anything that your resume doesn’t cover.

5. Stay organized

It’s time to go back to that Excel spreadsheet, know what I’m saying? Keep track of follow-up emails, interview dates, and thank you notes. You might apply to fifteen internships before receiving a single response, let alone an interview, so it’s important to keep track of all of your applications in one place.

The most important part of applying to internships is to stay organized and stay positive. While applying to internships sometimes feels like a shot in the dark, the work you put into it will pay off big time. Having the opportunity to gain valuable work experience in your industry before graduation will get you that much more ahead for when you start the official job search.

[Photo: Scouts Honor Co.]