An internship is a way to learn more about a company and to gain experience in a particular industry. Additionally, internships are a good way to get your foot in the door at a company you wish to work for. Not all companies go out of their way to advertise internships, and some companies may not even have an internship program. In these situations, it can be effective to call the company you are interested in and ask for an internship.
Research the company you are interested in. If you are hoping to intern at a company you may already know a fair amount about the organization. However, it is important to dig deeper to demonstrate your interest. Try to find people in your network who work are at or have worked at the company, research news stories and press releases about the company and study the company website.
Prepare a brief elevator speech. An elevator speech is an introductory summary of who you are, what you do, what your qualifications are and what you would like to do. It is called an elevator speech because it is meant to be delivered in roughly 30 seconds, or about how long you would have to introduce yourself to your dream employer if you randomly ran into her on an elevator.
Prepare a set of talking points. When you call your preferred company, it is likely not to be as simple as delivering your elevator speech and accepting the internship. Remember that if you are cold calling, the company may have a number of questions for you regarding the structure of the internship and what you can do for them. Practice with friends and family and see what types of questions come up. Make sure you are prepared to answer them if they arise.
Call the company and ask to speak to the internship director or human resources person. If the company you are calling does not regularly hire interns, you may be transferred a few times while they try to find an appropriate person for you to talk to. Once you are able to speak to someone, lead off with your elevator speech. Be sure to close by repeating your request for an internship.
Follow up. It is entirely possible that you will not get a definite answer one way or the other after cold calling about an internship. Be sure to follow up within roughly a week after your initial conversation. This is a good way to demonstrate your continued interest and to show your initiative as well as keep your name in play.