So, You Want an Internship…
Posted by Katie Ostoich on March 27, 2012 at 10:39 AM
Yesterday we talked about finding a full or part time summer job for college students, but if you don’t want just anything? What if you want to start working in your desired field and building up applicable experience on your resume? Internships are the perfect place to start! But summer internship deadlines are around the corner, which only means one thing: college students across the country are frantically editing their resumes, praying to the job gods that their intern dreams will come true, just like you. Here are some tips and tricks to set you apart and put you at the top of your game.
Seek out a career with a company you love
It’s one thing to go for any any company that has an opening, but it’s another to go after an internship at a company you’re passionate about. Don’t be afraid to apply at your favorite magazine, television station, law firm, fashion brand, etc. Some obvious perks? You won’t have to BS your cover letter to sound excited about working at the company – you already are! And you may get a once-in-a-lifetime internship experience out of it. Just think how amazing that would look on a resume.
Maybe a large corporation isn’t your scene – that’s completely fine. Know of a small organization that you admire? Apply. You say it’s halfway across the country, or they don’t have a listing for an intern? Do it anyway. I moved from Ohio to San Francisco for an internship and it was the best experience.
Don’t wait for the posting
Just like with job listings, the best time to actually apply for a job is before it’s posted. Posting a position costs time and money that the corporation would rather spend elsewhere. Your best bet? Gauge when an internship will be available (the general rule of thumb is Summer, May-August; Fall, September-December; and Spring, January-April) and do some super-sleuthing to find out who to contact. When in doubt, politely email a secretary, tell her your inquiring about internship opportunities – making sure to be specific about duties/department – and she’ll forward you to the person you need to talk to.
Don’t forget about the internship binder
Make sure to visit the advisor for your specific major and ask about the internship binder – every major has one. It’s a compilation of various internship opportunities posted, some local, some not. While the competition may be high, you can bet it will be a worthwhile learning experience if your school’s taking the time to add it.
Check your resume
Five seconds – that’s how long hiring directors spend on your resume in the initial run-through. After that point, it’s tossed into one of two piles, the stack that gets a closer look and the stack that ends up in the trash. Have your college’s career services check it over not only for grammatical errors, but also to help you come up with power verbs and phrases. It could make the difference between which pile you’re put in. This brings us to…
Some internships, especially any located in metropolitan areas, most likely go through hundreds, if not thousands of resumes. The little touches you add can also help get you that second look. Remember Elle Woods' pink scented resume? I'm not saying to go that far, but the number one way to stand out is by not using a cookie-cutter cover letter. Trust me, they will know. Make sure to illustrate who you really are by showing them your voice through your writing. Also, depending on the job, don’t be afraid to add small pops of color to your resume to get a second glance.
I can’t stress enough how important a hand-written thank you note is. Grab business cards from everyone you met with, and if you don’t have the chance in the interview, grad contact details from the secretary on the way out. The second you walk away from the interview, pull out your stationary and get to work. If you haven’t written a thank-you note since your high school graduation, here are some quick tips
- Make it 4 lines: thank the employer for meeting with you, make a quick reference to the conversation, reiterate that you are interested in the position, and state a plan for following up.
- Make sure your signature is legible
- Write it the second you get home and send it out ASAP
- And make sure it’s snail mail. Email is not ok.
With these tips, you’re bound to land an internship that will get you one step closer to your dream job.