• Summer internships at top-tier companies are more competitive than ever this year.
  • Applications per internship jumped to 93, up from 53 last year, according to Handshake, a jobs site.
  • Students who landed a summer role say their top tip is to apply early.

Landing a summer internship at a top-tier company isn't easy, but this year, the competition is steeper than ever.

The number of internships offered on Handshake, a job and internship platform used by millions of college students, fell by 7% this year.

The drop was most pronounced in financial services, professional services, nonprofits, and tech, where the number of internships offered has dropped by more than 13% since last year.

Many of these industries have faced significant headwinds over the past year. Major consulting firms have tightened their belts and pushed back start dates for new hires. Big tech companies have gone through mass layoffs.

Internships have been one of the casualties of the corporate cost-cutting.

"Internship programs are expensive: You have to use part of your HR team to oversee these interns and make their lives great," Julia Pollak, chief economist at job site ZipRecruiter, which noted a 14% drop in internship listings in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period last year, told Bloomberg.

Students still see internships as the most reliable path to a full-time job. So, the pressure to land one this year has been high.

Applicants on Handshake submitted an average of 93 applications per internship this year, up from 53 last year. The surge in applications was most pronounced in the tech industry, which saw an average of 247 applications per role compared to 134 last year.

Students who've successfully landed summer internships say to apply early.

Adriana Rivera, a rising senior at Massachusetts Institute of Technology interning at Deutsche Bank this summer, said she started applying for a summer internship in January 2023 — 18 months before her start date this June.

"It just gets earlier every year and it gets more competitive every year," Rivera told Business Insider. Thankfully, one of her professors clued her into the timeline during the spring semester of her sophomore year. "Very early on he asked me, 'Are you doing recruiting? Have you already started?' And I was like, what do you mean it's really early?"

Rivera said she started applying "like crazy" to every internship she could find after that, but that approach wasn't fruitful. She wasn't hearing back from many companies, and when she did, she wasn't advancing past the first-round interview.

So she re-evaluated her perspective and realized she needed to go into interviews with a better sense of why she wanted the role — and who she was as a person. "Looking back, I know I just needed to do it with intention," she said.

Other students say the best way to land a role is to network with as many people as possible.

Rachel Barker, a rising senior at Southern Methodist University interning at a real estate company this summer, told Business Insider by LinkedIn message, "I was simply networking and going on coffee dates with people in the commercial real estate industry in Fort Worth, and it led me to some great people who wanted me on the team."

Read the original article on Business Insider