Applying for an internship can be a daunting task from beginning to end. Where do you start? How do you make your resume? What will make you stand out? All of these questions and more can come up when you apply for an internship. Below I’ve posted the steps that I’ve followed that haven’t failed me yet.
- Do your research. Ultimately this internship is about gaining experience in your selected field. That being said, you should do your research and look for companies to fit into the niche you’re looking too work in. For instance, I’m a PR major and I’m looking at either consumer PR, travel/hospitality PR or entertainment PR. Therefore, when I do my research I’m going to look for internship positions that fall under these categories. Ultimately I may change my mind but there’s no better way for me to learn than by trying them out first.
- During your research make a list of all of the companies that really grab your attention.
- Give it a couple days to sit and then go back and look at the companies again, this time ranking them in order of desirability. Don’t forget when making your list to make a note of how you apply (is it e-mail or an online form?), any extra paperwork necessary as well as when you need to apply by. The more you outline for yourself the easier it will be later. Ultimately you should aim to have between 6 – 10 companies on your list. It’s better to apply for too many rather than too few.
- Organize yourself. Now that you’ve found some companies that you’re interested in applying for you need to make sure you’re in good shape before you go any further.
- The first thing you need to do is to check your social media profiles. If there is anything, and I mean anything, that could remotely reflect negatively on you remove it immediately. If you’re unsure air in the side of caution and remove it anyway. You don’t want your social media profiles to be the reason you don’t receive an internship offer. To clean up your Facebook and Twitter Simple Wash is a good tool. Make sure that if you have a LinkedIn (which you should consider if you don’t) that it’s up to date, this is essentially your online resume and more and more companies are starting to look at these. Also, if your e-mail address is something like firstname.lastname@example.org then you should make a new one that is something like your first initial and last name with a number if needed. It looks a lot nicer and ensures that you won’t lose any reply e-mails in the clutter of your personal e-mail.
- The next thing you need to do is take a look at your resume. Make sure first and foremost that you have all of your contact information and that it’s correct. You want them to be able to easily reach out to you. Make sure that you have all of your experience up to date. You’ve worked hard for the experience you have, don’t leave it out. Lastly, take your resume to the career center on campus. Odds are they can point out a lot of things you would’ve otherwise overlooked and give you advice on maximizing the way you format your resume. If you need some help with starting off here’s a basic outline to get you going. Remember though, every resume is different. Save this file with your name in the file name, especially if you’re submitting it electronically because odds are they’re going to be getting more than one application.
- Finally, take care of all your other paperwork. Write your cover letter (Here’s a basic outline to help you out), get any recommendations that they may ask for and if they have any supplemental forms take care of those as well. Make sure to save the right company name to your cover letter, even if you use the same body letter and just change the company information. You don’t want to send the wrong letter to a company, that’s not a great first impression.
- Apply. Here’s where there that list comes in handy. Now you have all of the companies that you want to apply to easily listed so you won’t forget one or accidentally apply twice. Plus, you should have all the required paperwork that you’ll need listed out. It’s a road map for your applications, you just have to follow and check it off when you’re done.
- Follow Up. Things don’t just end once you send in your application. If it’s been a few weeks and you haven’t heard back from any companies it’s okay to follow up with a polite e-mail or phone call. Just state your name and that you recently sent in an application and then offer to send/ask them if they need any other information to help them. It shows that you care about the position and are willing to take initiative.
- They’ve responded. Now what? Hopefully within a couple weeks you start to get a few responses and requests to come in/call in for interviews. Once that’s the case you should go about being polite and honest about your availability for interviewing and schedule the interview for a time that you both can agree upon. Make sure when you do this to write down the interview date, time and location in your calendar and any other place you need it to be in order to remember it. This will also help you to not accidentally double book yourself for interviews.
- Prepping the night before an interview. Make sure you get yourself all ready to go in for your interview the night before rather than and hour before. Make sure you have a nice looking folder, preferably a plain, shiny black folder. Next, print out 2-3 copies of your resume as well as a copy of your cover letter. You may not need them but it makes you look that much more organized and prepared if you have them and they ask. I’ve been in this situation before so I know how nice it feels to be prepared. You should also print out any other paperwork that is relevant. If you had any recommendation letters print out a copy of those or, if you have any work related to the position (for instance, an article you’ve had published if you’re looking at journalism). Don’t forget to set an alarm!!! also, do some research about the company before you go to bed. They may ask you questions like “What do you know about us?” or “What do we do that interests you?” and you’ll need to be prepared.
- Dress the part. The big day is here, your chance to make a first impression face to face rather than on paper. You now need to look the part. Sweatpants, yoga pants and jeans aren’t going to cut it. You need a nice shirt and slacks/a skirt, a dress or a suit. Professional looking attire. As much as I wish we could move past it as a society, physical appearances matter when people make their first impressions of you. You need to look the part.
- The Interview. First and foremost, make sure you know the company, it doesn’t hurt to do a quick refresh of your research from the night before. Be honest but also try to frame your answers in a way that will still positively highlight you. Be professional and polite. Have general answers prepared. Here’s a good list of questions that you can expect to be asked during an interview:
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- What do you hope to get out of an internship with us?
- What makes you unique?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
- Why should we hire you?
- For a longer list here’s a helpful info graphic.
- The wait. This is perhaps the worst part of all, waiting for the final verdict now that you’ve made it past the resume and interview. The best thing to do is just keep busy and make sure you check your e-mail frequently/answer your phone so you don’t miss a response.
- Accepting or rejecting an offer. Hopefully you receive an offer for a position. If you do be polite and thank them for the internship offer. Also, if you were given the contact info of those who interviewed you, thank them for their time interviewing you and let them know you look forward to working with them in the future. If you have the fantastic dilemma of being offered multiple positions you still need to remain polite to those that you turn down because odds are you’ll be applying for a position with them again next time around. Thank them politely for their time and the offer and explain to them that at this time you have accepted another offer but that you look forward to being in touch with them again in the future. It’s better to give them a polite no than just ignore them, that’s just unprofessional.
I hope that this helps you out with your internship applications and I wish you the best of luck!
Do you have any tips you’d like to share?
- Your A-game, the little things and the tried and tested truths to getting your dream job: Advice from ESPN hiring manager, Chris Maier (cspdsmc.wordpress.com)
- Who You Know and a Good Interview Go a Long Way (lzmirich.wordpress.com)
- Class Notes: Jobs, Resumes, Self-Marketing (ywamala.wordpress.com)
- Summer Internship/Job (virkusemmy.wordpress.com)
- Cover Letters, Resumes, and Thank you Notes (kdashcroft.wordpress.com)
- Internships (thecollegeprlife.wordpress.com)
- InternshiPs—“all woRk, no pay”(http://jmorosoff.wordpress.com)