The word INTERN is usually associated with the word UNPAID or FREE LABOR. In this economy, more and more paid internships are becoming unpaid.
It is difficult to find these paid opportunities but not impossible. If you are set on landing a paid internship, follow my advice below :)
How to Find Paid Internships
1. DON'T GIVE UP. I'm warning you, this can be a long and frustrating path to go down. I encourage students to take on part-time jobs and unpaid internships
to avoid the idea of having to land a paid internship. However, if your mind is set, it is set. The important thing is, when you set your goal of getting a paid opportunity, don't give up. No matter how many rejections you get, just keep trucking along. Determination and focus are key.
2. EARLY PREP. Paid internships are a dime a dozen these days so don't procrastinate. Start searching for paid opportunities approx. 6 months before you plan to intern. Finding a paid internship at the last minute is extremely stressful and the paid internships are the first to fill up.
3. NARROW DOWN YOUR SEARCH. Try to choose 2 locations and 2 fields that you would like to intern within. This will keep your lists targeted and aimed at the right opportunities.
4. GET ON THE RESEARCH TRAIN. Become a professional at Microsoft Excel becuase it is going to be your best friend and what keeps you organized and focused during your internship search.
Start researching as soon as you can. Your Excel document should be labeled in columns that read, "Company", "Website", "Contact Name", "Phone Number", "Status". Get on Google.com and start typing in the field you want to work in and "Paid Internship". If you have a destination that you are hooked on, include that as well. I like to use yp.yahoo.com to find company phone numbers online.
If I was looking for a Paid Fashion Internship in Los Angeles I would Google things like "Paid Internships in Los Angeles", "Paid Fashion Internships". "Paid fashion internships in Los Angeles" and play around with it until some company names came up. Log the company names you find interesting during your research onto your Excel document. Don't stop this process until you have at least 20 companies listed. Remember, paid internships are HARD to get so you don't want to put all of your eggs in one basket. Apply to as many opportunities as possible. Take the time to research the phone numbers for each company as well. Google can be great for this process. I also use yp.yahoo.com and search by company name/location.
5. SEND 'EM OUT. Don't wait around to send these materials out. Get together your cover letter, resume, and letters of recc (like you normally would) and put a few hours aside each day to send your materials out. Most companies will accept interns applications via email but there are some that still require regular standard mail. You will also find companies that insist you apply via their website.
6. IT NEVER HURTS TO ASK. If you get offered an internship opportunity and you know it's not paid, you can ask the employer if they would ever consider creating a small stipend for you. Be frank with these people and explain your situation. Perhaps you are covering your own tuition or your expenses are extremely high that month, be honest and see if they will offer you some sort of payment.
7. MOST INTERNSHIPS WILL COVER SMALL EXPENSES. If you are dealing with major transportation or lunch costs during your internship, don't be afraid to ask your employer for reimbursement. In most cases, the employer won't mind. This is a fine question to ask during an interview as well, "Will the company be able to reimburse my parking costs, commute, and/or lunches ?"
8. BE POLITE. Most companies know that they can get interns to work for free so they might NOT be open to a payment conversation. It's appropriate for you to have that dialouge but if you get turned down, make sure you don't push it. Don't make an employer feel uncomfortable and don't get rude on the phone.
RESOURCES FOR PAID INTERNSHIPS
1. Intern Queen (http://www.quarterlife.com/intern) My site features a handfull of paid internships at companies like BLOBLIVE, THE RUG COMPANY, PORTLAND SEA DOGS, FAMILY TRAVEL FORUM, UNIVERSAL PICTURES, etc.
2. Student Traveler (http://www.studenttraveler.com/mod-Pagesetter-viewpub-tid-10002-pid-566.html). This site lists great paid opportunities and had their listings divided up by fields.
3. The Disney College Program (http://disney.go.com/disneycareers/disneycollegeprogram/) This program is world famous and a great opportunity for dozens of lucky candidates each year.
4. EHow (http://www.ehow.com/how_2048916_find-paid-internship.html) Article on How to Find Paid Internships.
I asked my friends on Twitter about Paid Internships: