THE APPROACH:

The following few grafs are taken from an email that I (Jagg) sent to a student some time ago. She had asked — as many students do — “how do I get started in my placement search?”   And so because I was always responding with the same standard information

 

Do you have a website where a prospective employer can see your work and find out a bit about you and your interests? You really ought to. But if not, do make sure you have all your portfolio materials ready at hand: samples of your work including writing, social, video etc.

 

Your C.V. should not really be part of a website that anyone can access, as it likely contains personal information. Keep it separate, and send it to prospective employers when asked.

Make sure your cover letter is as good as it can be. Elsewhere in this Resources section you’ll find a piece from the Poynter Institute, titled “We just looked at 160 resumés. Here is what NOT to do.”  I think you’ll find helpful tips there about CVs and cover letters.

Start with an email approach. The subject line should be something like “Seeking Internship.” Introduce yourself, saying you’re hoping to intern at (the particular place) because (why? you like their programming? or … even though you don’t know the organisation, it looks interesting and you could be a good fit? Just let them know what is prompting you to make this approach to this particular placement).
Tell them the RSJ program requires you to complete a six-week placement, and provide the dates or an approximation of the dates (sometimes we don’t know the precise dates until quite late). Make sure to say that your placement is for academic credit. Perhaps include a few words about what you’re interested in and good at? And … would they have a spot for an intern during that six-week period? If so, would they like you to send them a proper covering letter, CV, and perhaps some work samples? Would they like to meet you for an interview?
And take it from there.
Sometimes students ask whether it’s ok to apply to more than one placement at a time. Use your judgement. If you have made an approach and they have indicated they are interested, then it is polite and professional to give them a reasonable amount of time to make a formal offer BEFORE you go off seeking something else. On the other hand, they shouldn’t keep you waiting. Anything more than a few days is not cool, and anything more than a week is simply rude and disrespectful. Employers will (or should) understand that you have to find something — and within a particular time frame! — so it’s fair of you to check back after, say, three days, if you haven’t heard from them. If they won’t commit, then explain that you may still be interested, but in the meantime you need to keep searching. They have to respect that.
Of course the thing you must NOT do is accept a placement, then find another one that you like better and so you give up the first one. I will look very unkindly on that kind of thing. Very unprofessional.