Archive for February, 2013

Communicating with Internship Sites

Posted on February 6, 2013. Filed under: Career, College, Internship, Jobs | Tags: , , , , |



A question that many students have when launching their own internship search is: How do I check on the status of my application? This is a good question.

Confirm Receipt of Application

First you should verify receipt of your materials – is your application complete?  You can email or call to do this, or they may send you an automated confirmation. This should be done within one week of applying. This is an important step, so don’t be tempted to skip it. 

Determining a Timeline

On the internship’s website they may provide a timeline for selection. If so, do not contact them unless it’s past their timeline for contacting applicants and you still have not heard back.  If they do not provide a timeline (most don’t) it is important to contact them to reaffirm your interest and try to determine their timeline. Knowing when they plan to interview and make their selections will take a lot of the worry and guessing out of the equation.  The best way to do this is by phone (makes you more “real”), but email is fine, too. 

Two Week Rule

After learning that your application is complete, wait two weeks before contacting them again. This is what I call the Two Week Rule.  If you send an email inquiry or leave a phone message but do not get a response it’s fair to contact them again in two weeks.  As you can see, this is all a bit of a balancing act between being a pest and being persistent. You want them to know that you are serious about your interest in an internship with them.  Waiting too long can be even worse than contacting them too often.

TIP: Sometimes a follow up phone call will turn into a spontaneous interview if you catch the right person at the right time. So, be prepared when you call.  On the other hand, it can be difficult to get someone on the phone, so you may have to keep trying.


Sample Communication

Dear Internship Coordinator (better if you have an actual name): 

This email is in follow up to my application for a policy internship in your organization.  I am very interested in this position and would like to inquire as to your timeline for interviewing and selection. Feel free to contact me by email reply or phone at (999)123-4567.  I look forward to hearing from you and learning more about this great opportunity. 


On January 25th I submitted my application for a summer internship with Senator Stabenow’s Office.  This is an opportunity that I am very interested in as it fits perfectly with my academic focus.  Do you know when I can expect to hear back regarding that status of my application?  You can reach me…. 

Thank you for your time,


Of course you can personalize this in any way you’d like, but keep it brief and to the point.  If you have not confirmed that they have received your materials, you could also address that in your email.

If there isn’t a specific person or email associated with the internship application, just use whatever email you find – usually listed under Contact Information on the website.  Then, instead of addressing it to the internship coordinator you can use “To Whom it May Concern” and ask to have your email directed to the appropriate person.

Requesting NO CALLS?

You may run into “no calls or emails” listed on an intern application. You do need to respect that, but this gives you no opportunity for knowing your status.

Internship Insights

You can learn a lot about what it might be like to work for an organization (or a specific supervisor) as an intern from these interactions.  Personally, if an internship site requests no calls, I put them at the bottom of my priority list.  That request in and of itself comes across as a bit disrespectful of interns.  However, if they are a very high-profile organization and provide timeline information on their application, then I’m not as bothered by this.

If an internship site/supervisor is good at returning your calls/emails, you might be able to gather that they are organized and that the internship has some structure to it.

Bottom line?  Trust your instincts when communicating with internships and when deciding to accept or decline an offer.  Rules are great as a guide, but nothing beats using your actual experiences and exchanges to gather information and make a decision that is the right for YOU!

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