"You're there to find out from an industry professional what the opportunities are," she says.
Students should follow up with a thank-you card or email. By February or March, they should start asking if there are summer opportunities, Wingate says.
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3. Be creative online: Social media can help students stand out and sell themselves, says Hinkin. She urges students to consider blogging about their interests to catch the eye of future employers.
"I think it identifies you as somebody that is proactive," she says. "That helps the employers and the followers see what your thinking is, what you're interested in, how you express yourself."
When using social media in this way, students should also be cautious and strategic, she says.
"They need to begin to think of themselves in a professional way," she says. "They need to see it kind of as a self-marketing type of endeavor."
Part of being professional is making sure the blog's content is organized. If it has no focus or is used for stream-of-consciousness writing, Hinkin says, "that can do more harm than good."
4. Consider unpaid opportunities: Often students find a place they want to work, but the employer may not have resources to pay for an intern. A number of schools have programs that will sponsor students during their summer employment.
University of Richmond started the UR Summer Fellowship program last summer. Students can receive funding while they work at an internship or do research. Thirteen percent of students who received an award were first-year students, Wingate said.
At Claremont McKenna College, about 130 students each year receive funding through sponsored internship programs. About a quarter of the recipients are freshmen, Seder says.
"It's an opportunity for a student basically to design his or her internship," she says. "We ask them to focus on organizations that wouldn't otherwise be able to pay. Most of them are in the nonprofit sector."
Students have used the program to work at places such as Habitat for Humanity and Human Rights Watch.
McKenna believes freshmen can intern at a variety of places. She encourages them to think wisely about their future before starting a summer job search.
"I want them to pursue their dream and most kids can't identify exactly what that is," she says. "Seems to me you'd possibly avoid some wrong turns if you really thought things through."
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