Summer, the season of internships, is approaching fast. Perhaps you’ve been looking for top-notch internships with no luck or maybe you’ve just been too busy to start the search. With the pages of the calendar rapidly turning, you might be starting to feel panic settling in.

As your friends and classmates talk about the great summer internships they’ve nabbed, you might start worrying you’ve already missed the boat. Don’t despair just yet! Even though summer is right around the corner, the perfect internship is still waiting for you.

After all, 97 percent of employers are looking to hire interns in 2014, according to projections from the National Association of Colleges and Employers. With so many industries looking to add interns to the ranks, your odds of nabbing something aren’t impossible, even at the last minute.

Here is a last-minute checklist to help you turbocharge your internship search and score the position you’ve been dreaming of:

Contact Your Mentor

If you’ve developed a relationship with an industry mentor, now is the time to work those contacts. Call or email your mentor and invite them out for an informational coffee. Explain your situation and ask for industry advice for how to find a great internship or what you can do to impress potential employers.

Perhaps you’re missing volunteer experience or maybe you need to spend some time delving into the latest technology before applying for your dream internship. Whatever the case, a mentor highly involved in your industry of choice can provide great feedback and top-notch advice.

Item #2: Reach Out to Your Career Center

The career center at your school is there to help, yet far too many students ignore this font of professional wisdom. Make an appointment with your career counselor and explain your internship goals and the connection they’ll have to your future career.

As a bonus, going to your career center can help you think deeply and critically about the type of internship you want to acquire and how it fits into your career goals. If the only reason you’re pursuing a certain internship is because it sounds “cool,” perhaps it’s time to reevaluate your internship search.

Establish Relationships on Social Media

Social media is a great want to make inroads with the movers and shakers in your industry, as well as other students and entry-level talent. Take part in chats and discussions in your industry of choice using social media tools.

For instance, you can add your two cents to a relevant discussion on LinkedIn or take part in an industry-specific Twitter chat. You might have to do some legwork and research to find out where your industry spends time online, but it’ll be worth it in the breadth of your expanding network of contacts.

Check Out Niche Job Boards

Since you’ve done your homework when it comes to where your industry spends time online, now it’s time to find the niche corners where jobs and internships are listed. Sometimes finding the jobs posted in your niche can require some elbow grease, so don’t be afraid to ask mentors and social media contacts for advice on where to look.

When you’ve found sites with internship listings, look for information about the company, its internship program, and the company culture. The more information you’re equipped with, the more likely you are to find the best fitting internship for you and improve your chances of nailing the interview.

Attend Hackathons and Networking Events

The Internet can be great for making contacts, but often nothing beats a little face-to-face interaction. In fact, in one survey 95% of professionals preferred in-person meetings when it comes to developing long-term business relationships.

While it might be intimidating, go to an industry-specific networking event or career fair. If you’re looking to break into the tech field, there’s probably no better place than a hackathon to show off your concrete skills and impress employers.

Remember to bring copies of your resume, put on your best professional attire, and really listen to what others are saying at the event. Don’t spend all your time asking for jobs or advice; instead, try to offer any help you can to new contacts. Most people are networking only for their own benefit, so by listening to the needs of others, you’ve already made yourself stand out from the crowd.

Create Your Own Opportunities

Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you — instead, you might need to aggressively hunt down the internships you want. Focus on the companies you’d like to work for and try to cultivate contacts within the organization. Ask for informational coffees and look for opportunities even if there’s no job ad posted.

If you can’t find an internship with your dream company, expand your reach and look for opportunities you might not have otherwise considered. You never know — the last-minute internship you take now might actually change the course of your career.

It might seem late in the game to find your perfect summer internship, but all hope isn’t lost. If you hustle now and check these items off your last-minute internship checklist, you can still end up with a great job come June.

What do you think? What’s on your last-minute internship checklist? Share in the comments!

Featured photo credit: Mind Mapping/inpivic via flickr.com

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