Let’s talk about the subject that inevitably brings stress to the average college student: Internships.
Graduation seems to be just around the corner and you’re wondering what the hell comes after that $200,000 degree is in your hands. Trust me, I get it. These are the fears that nightmares are made of, but it is possible to line up something great before that day comes. For the aspiring professional, getting a foot in the door to a field of interest means everything. Unfortunately, this task can seem somewhat daunting in the beginning. So here are a few interntips to keep the real-world boogeyman away and to get the most out of your college life.
The First Steps:
- Find a great internship website. These exist all over the internet and can offer a variety of opportunities. Some examples include Findspark, LinkedIn and Careersushi. Of course, every big company has opportunities listed on its website and social media pages, so that’s always an option as well. *Protip: Don’t be afraid to do some research. It’s easy to search for a particular company’s hiring recruiter. Send an email displaying your interest. It’s always best to make the experience as personal as possible. Just don’t be creepy about it.
- Utilize LinkedIn. LinkedIn is one of the first places an employer will search. Make sure the best version of yourself is on that website. If you don’t have one, make one. I’ve been offered three positions based off my LinkedIn profile alone, so a lot of good comes from a stellar online resume. Spend a day to really brand yourself on the site and constantly connect with people you know. (It also doesn’t hurt to attach the link to your resume.)
- Perfect the Resume. Cover letters and resumes are crucial to getting an interview and it needs to catch the attention of the recruiter. With internship competition, the average recruiter will probably skim your material for roughly 30 seconds. If you don’t make an impression in that amount of time, you will not be receiving a call- now or ever. Here are a few resume tips: A. Keep it a page or less with 3-5 bullets defining your experience. B. Format it in a clean, but aesthetically pleasing way. Recruiters see the same sheet of paper one hundred times a day, so do not be afraid to create a unique visual. C. Tailor the resume to fit the job. If you have experience in the field you are applying, make sure that plot point is your priority. D. Update constantly. Show the recruiter you’re actively growing and evolving as a professional. Don’t hand in something that hasn’t been touched in 2 years. E. ***ALWAYS SEND IN A PDF FORM*** Word documents alter text and add an extra element of annoyance to recruiters. Make their lives easier.
- Apply! Don’t be afraid to apply to a variety of opportunities. Some places may not contact you, so it’s vital to have backup plans.
- Prepare. You need to know the company inside and out. This includes clients, important players, news mentions and whatever else you can find on the company website. There is nothing an employer despises more than an uninformed applicant. Prove to them that this company means something to you.
- Take notes. Think about all the questions a hiring recruiter may ask you. Write them down and compile a list of answers that show you’re a great candidate. Don’t walk into an interview without having these answers ready, because no one wants to see you overthinking a simple question. It may also help to search for answer do’s and dont’s.
- Bring a portfolio. Bring some materials that show off your talents. If you write, bring some samples from previous classes or jobs. Package it nicely and let your recruiter keep it.
- Ask questions. Don’t ever, ever, ever say “I don’t think I have any questions.” People want you to delve deeper into their company. Show interest in asking about their current role or what’s expected. Ask about the company blog. Anything is better than nothing.
- Follow up. After 2-5 days have passed, make sure to send a follow-up email. Thank the recruiter for their time and throw in a personal touch. An example: “Dear ___, Thank you again for taking the time out of your day to speak with me. I really enjoyed our conversation. Please let me know if I can provide you with any further materials. Thanks again and I look forward to speaking with you again soon.”
This is just a simple guideline to help boost your internship eligibility. Most importantly though, breathe. If you don’t get that dream internship, don’t sweat it. There are thousands of opportunities out there and more often than not, these things work out for a reason. You’ll find that soon enough, you’re exactly where you need to be. Interviews take practice, so keep at it.
Good luck and happy hunting!