How to Land an Internship in a Big City You Don’t Live In

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

By Renee Tornatore
Urban Interns Brand Ambassador, Cornell University

Internship & Career OpportunitiesAs a non-native, aspiring intern in a big city, it often seems daunting to try and infiltrate the job world of somewhere unknown. Many college students are in this position, since many college campuses aren’t located in the city they’d love to spend a summer in. While it’s difficult, it’s not an impossible feat to land an internship for someone that doesn’t live in the area.

Use careful discretion in choosing what types of jobs to pursue. If you are a college student that doesn’t have constant and direct access to the city, be wary of the demands and expectations of the job. Don’t apply for an internship that needs someone to begin working as soon as a day after you accept the offer.

Focus on one city if possible, two maximum. Try to stay in the same city if you want to “double up” on internships or want to cultivate strong networks in a certain area. State in your cover letter why you’re applying for the job when you’re not located there. For example, “I am currently a senior at XY University, but I’m moving to New York City on June 1st.” This is a way to show that you’re serious about gaining professional experience and are willing to make lifestyle sacrifices in order to do so.

Ask for a phone or Skype interview first. Many companies expect you to come to them for an interview, but if you live far away from their office location, this may not be a possibility at first. Take the initiative to offer an alternative way of contact. During the interview, offer to work or get up to speed in the job role virtually in the weeks before your move. Gaining virtual professional experience will provide to be a beneficial way to transition to working productively in the office. After the interview, follow up immediately and remind them of your interest in the role and in particular, the city. Tell them why you’d like to be working there and why your presence will benefit the company.

The most important piece of advice to an intern aspiring to work in a different city is to be prepared to be flexible. Plan frequent trips to your city of choice for potential in-person interviews. Make yourself seem as available as possible, even though you may live hundreds of miles away. Good luck!

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