Although many people are under the impression that internships are purely for upperclassmen, this is a widespread misconception. If you're interested in getting an internship as a freshman, don't let tell people that you can't.
1. Seek out opportunities.
Don't wait for an internship to fall into your lap, because chances are that it never will. If it's something you're interested in, it's up to you to find opportunities for yourself. To do this, I researched programs on my school's online job board, and reached out to those in charge of the ones I wanted to become involved with. I didn't wait for direction from anyone else, I simply used the resources available to me to achieve what I wanted.
2. Gear your internship to your major (if you have one).
Although I was an undeclared major at the time that I began applying to internships, I still saw it as an amazing opportunity to get firsthand experience working in a field that I thought I might want to work in after graduation. Ever since school had started and I had been exposed to a variety of different classes, I had been extremely interested in learning more about the nonprofit sector and how I could potentially contribute to it, so this is what I chose to focus on. If your internship is in a field that you're interested in, it will make going to work a lot easier.
3. Don't underestimate yourself.
As a freshman, I was intimidated and told myself that I shouldn't even apply for internships because there was no way I would actually get one. After thinking about it for nearly a week, I decided that I might as well apply just to see what happened, because it was too good of an opportunity to pass up and the fact that it was constantly on my mind meant that it was something I was really interested in. I didn't let my year in school hold me back, and you shouldn't either. Starting an internship as a freshman simply means that you'll be able to gain more experience, and you won't be pressed to get experience in before graduation.
4. Emphasize your freshman status in your interview.
Fast forward one week after I applied, and I had gotten an invitation to come in for an interview with the head of the internship program. When my interviewer realized that I was a freshman, she applauded my initiative and told me that I had impressed her. Even though the program had never had a freshman before, she saw it as a good thing that I was starting so young and would potentially be able to remain in the program for four years. To my surprise, rather than seeing my freshman status as negative, she pointed out all of the benefits.
5. Don't become disheartened.
If at first you don't succeed, that doesn't mean you should stop trying. An experience like this will be incredibly important and beneficial for you in the future so it's vital that you do everything you can to ensure it happens. It's completely normal to receive multiple rejections before another organization finally invites you to become an intern, don't let this dissuade you. Before I applied for the organization I'm now a part of, I received approximately five or six rejections. Even though it was hard, I'm glad it happened the way it did because I wouldn't be where I am without those rejections.
Although it has been challenging spending 15 hours a week at the organization I am interning with, I wouldn't trade this opportunity for anything in the world. I am gaining firsthand experience in a field that I could see myself working with after I graduate, and it is helping me immensely with figuring out if I want to stay in my major/switch to something else. It even pays better than most on-campus jobs! Last week, I had a conversation with one of the employees who had graduated from my school and been in the intern program that I'm currently in, and it was so inspiring to see that she had started as an intern and is now a full-time employee at the same organization. An important lesson that I have learned is that internships are not only for seniors, and it's never too early to start gaining experience in a field you're interested in.
Lead Image Credit: Pixabay