Berger suggests students try the following tactics to land a valuable opportunity for the summer:
Identify and go after internships in boutique companies. Most larger, Fortune 500 companies have already selected and started their summer programs, but smaller companies may just be realizing they need an intern for the summer. "The best thing a student can do is be as familiar with the company as possible," Berger says.
Spend a lot of time, effort and energy to learn about your target companies via their websites, check Google to get the latest news about the organization and follow their social media streams. You never know what you can learn by connecting with a company via its LinkedIn company page or through Facebook career sites. Once you learn as much as you can, you'll be in a great position to apply and interview impressively.
Conduct informational meetings. Useful in every stage of a job search, informational meetings can give internship seekers an edge and an opportunity to impress a new contact. Berger suggests asking questions about the person's background, as well as for advice about how to improve their chances to land opportunities in the field. "It's a good idea to ask if there are any specific books, websites, magazines or trade publications that the expert recommends," Berger says. "Internship seekers may also want to ask, 'What is the best thing you've seen an intern do?'"
Volunteer. If you're really passionate about an organization, decide if you have time to volunteer. Make a dream list of the top 10 organizations where you'd like to work, organize contact information, get your applications out and be sure to follow up. Any time you're working without being compensated, be sure to do everything you can to steer the opportunity so it is as helpful as possible for your career. Identify the skills you'd like to add to your résumé, and spend some strategic time figuring out how to enhance those skills while you volunteer. Remember, it is up to you to make the most of it.
Shadow someone. Tap into your professional contacts and even your parents' friends to ask if they may be willing to let you shadow them for a day. Make sure you don't just show up and expect to be impressed. Research the organization as you would if you were interviewing there. Learn as much as you can ahead of time about the person you will shadow. Plan out questions to ask, and be ready to share some of the information that you learned. "If you do get the opportunity to job shadow - take notes, ask questions and make the most of your experience," Berger suggests.
Don't discount looking for a part-time job. Berger notes: "If you absolutely cannot get an internship, I suggest looking into a part-time job that's relevant to the field you're targeting." For example, you may want to get a job as an assistant or a receptionist in a company where you'd love to work. If you make a point to be helpful and a great team player, it's possible that you'll win over enough contacts and friends to refer you to an opportunity that's well suited to you once you have your degree.
Miriam Salpeter is a job search and social media consultant, career coach, author, speaker, resume writer, and owner of Keppie Careers. She is author of Social Networking for Career Success and 100 Conversations for Career Success. Miriam teaches job seekers and entrepreneurs how to incorporate social media tools along with traditional strategies to reach their goals.