Internship season is daunting — no doubt about it. However, the process is also undeniably exhilarating, as it’s the first real step in the direction toward what life may look like post-graduation.
With that being said, it makes it all the more crucial to secure a position with a company you could potentially see yourself working for in the future, given a lot of businesses will offer its former interns job openings once the legitimate search for a stable career begins.
Though the pressure is pronounced, try to remain optimistic when applying to various internships. It may appear easier said than done, but assuredly, there are several ways to relieve pent-up stress when searching, applying, submitting and waiting on acceptances (and rejections, because a response is always better than none at all). And truthfully, waiting is the worst part, but even through the checking and re-checking of emails, there are definitive silver linings to the formalities and cliches of it all. Here are seven tips to help hopeful interns land the internship of their dreams:
Have someone look over your resume and cover letter
First and foremost, before even considering applying to any companies, businesses, firms, publications or agencies, ensuring you have a substantial resume and cover letter is key. These two simple documents serve as the intern coordinator’s first impression of you as an employee. Simply put, your resume and cover letter need to be near perfect, so it’s a good idea to have a second or even third set of eyes review them.
Don’t hesitate to ask a trusted adviser, professor or colleague to proofread both, as they will provide the most constructive criticism. Before sending in the resume and cover letter to be edited, though, make sure everything you want to be included from your past work experience and education is present on the documents because you know yourself and your accomplishments better than anyone. If there is anything you are proud to showcase, include it, and if your professor deems it unnecessary, then you know what to incorporate and what not to. It’s better to have more than less in this case.
Create a LinkedIn account
Once you have an adequate resume and cover letter that is representative of you and your work, it is time to begin the internship search process. Start by creating a LinkedIn account. LinkedIn is the ideal platform for professional networking and career development with endless numbers of opportunities to connect with potential employers.
Begin by uploading your resume, cover letter and experience. From there, tailor your profile so that it personifies you both as an individual and a job candidate. Featuring a professional headshot will aid you in coming across as a serious candidate and not as someone companies should overlook. The same goes for your background photo.
Consider uploading a photo of your school, an organization you are a part of or your contact information in an aesthetically pleasing display. Other components that will assist you in standing out are your headline and summary. This is your chance to tell employers about yourself, what kind of work environment you are seeking and your interests. Keep it concise, grammatically correct and relevant.
From here, begin searching for companies that are offering internships in the realm you wish to work. Look to see if any alumni from your school are currently working there, and consider connecting with them. If you decide to connect, send a personalized message to them, letting them know you are interested in learning more about the positions being offered and what they do on a day-to-day basis in their workplace. Typically, fellow collegiate alumni will be more than willing to extend a helping hand.
Once you come across an internship that seems fitting, save the job, review the criteria and begin the application process.
Subscribe to internship-related newsletters
Often, it may seem like the internship best fitting for you is hard to find. You may be wondering, “Where do I look, and where do I start aside from LinkedIn?” Luckily, there are many internship newsletters students can subscribe to, so they are on alert when a new opening is available for hire.
There are several newsletters specialized for different majors and minors. Therefore, depending on what your field of study is, there is a newsletter out there for it. Simply search whatever position you are interested in with the words “internship newsletter,” attached and the sites are endless.
Email, email, email
Although it may seem intimidating reaching out to a select company or employer individually, it is a smart route, as it shows you care and are interested in that person’s company or role. But how do you retrieve an email address to send a message of intent? Well, there are several options.
If there is a specific company you are highly interested in working for, even if it seems like a long shot, go to that company’s website and start digging to see if there is any contact information for employees. A lot of times, there will be a section labeled “Careers” that you can click on, that will provide addresses of people to reach out to if desired. Often, there are even email addresses specifically for internship inquiries.
Draft up an email stating your reasoning for contacting that individual, and attach your resume, cover letter, work samples, LinkedIn profile and website if you have one. Lastly, close with seeing if they would be interested in meeting via Zoom or in person, depending on the location, to discuss what a day in the life looks like for them at their place of work, and tell them you look forward to being in touch.
Furthermore, try reaching out via Twitter or Instagram. With the rise of social media, it is not necessarily unprofessional to reach out via these platforms anymore, and you would be surprised by who responds. If you can find a current intern for the specified business, even better. Ask them for advice on the process, and see if they would be able to assist you along the way.
Find a piece of work to feature to potential employers
Potential employers appreciate when hopeful candidates have already done substantial work in the field they are pursuing before seeking out an internship. No matter your major, find a project you completed for a class or for an outside organization that you believe is representative of your work ethic and abilities.
Many companies are more interested in seeing what you have done thus far rather than hearing about what you believe you can do in the future. If anything, this is one of the most decisive factors that can make or break whether you advance in the application process. Ensure whatever you are sharing is something you are proud of and passionate about, as the employer will likely ask you follow-up questions in regards to it.
On the contrary, if you don’t have anything you believe to be submittable, join an organization that is able to help you with a project, campaign or piece that will help you stand out among other candidates. Remember, it is human nature that people like to help others, so don’t hesitate to seek guidance.
Make a website
In addition to showcasing a piece of work, cultivating a website is another solid aspect that will strengthen your application. Use sites like Squarespace, Wix or WordPress to get started.
A personal website is a first-rate tool to develop your personal brand. It is the perfect space that serves as a one-stop shop for a hiring manager to examine who you are and what you have done in the past. Here, you are able to upload many projects, pieces of work or published pieces so that the interviewer has the ability to explore what exactly it is they are looking for. This way, they have more options and insight into what you have done up until this point in your education and field of study in case the one piece you decided to submit isn’t as fitting as maybe something else you have done is.
As stated earlier, there is nothing worse than waiting for a response, and more often than not, you won’t receive one. However, don’t take it personally, as these working professionals are busy and may not have the time to get back to you.
Even if you feel as if you are probing and being a pest by following up to an unread email, know you are not. By following up and seeing if the hiring coordinator received your email and is still looking for interns, it shows you are conscientious in regards to the places you have applied and care about their feedback and response.
Again, you still might not hear back following the follow-up email, but you can at least rest without regrets knowing you did all you could given the circumstances. And, besides, there is no harm in following up once more if the time between the second email has elapsed greatly.
Above all, the right internship will present itself when you least expect it. It’s important to not lose hope or trust in the process because once all is said and done, what is meant for you will find you.