If you are or were a college student, you know how stressful applying to that dream internship might feel. Whether trying to land a coding internship at Google or an editorial internship at Penguin Random House Books, internship programs offer the great opportunity to showcase your unique skills to future employers and learn new information that’ll help you in your desired job field. Not sure what steps to take in regards to landing your dream internship? Don’t worry; sit back, relax and keep reading so that by the time you know it, you’ll receive that “Congratulations, we are pleased to offer you…” email.
Read on for 10 ways to land the internship you dream about every night.
1. Write a Top Tier Resume!
Resumes prove as more than just a piece of paper. If you have a top-tier resume to show for, this will make your chances of getting your dream internship all the more likely. A simple and direct resume with straight lines, a clean layout and stylized according to your desired job all characterize what makes a professional resume. Think of it as your golden ticket into any professional opportunities you plan on applying to, not just an internship.
It can include anything from clubs and organizations, master’s programs or even post-grad jobs. “Your resume is what makes you unique. It sets you apart from other candidates by highlighting your specific achievements. Your skillset and past experience will stand out to a potential employer and you might be in luck if your resume is outstanding,” said Ranata Hughes, Florida A&M University (FAMU) SJGC Internship Coordinator. Your school’s career center and the internet can provide you with resume critiques and resume makeovers. Unfortunately, students don’t always utilize these available resources but veer left. Obtain that smart cookie mindset and go get that resume looked at for some critical input!
2. Research, Research, Research!
First things first, research. Just because a slew of openings for internships appear every which way you look, does not mean they fit you and you should go after them. As an eager candidate, plenty of websites can help you find the internship perfect for you. For example, college freshmen will have a harder time meeting the qualifications companies want in a potential intern due to their inexperience.
As you make more progress in your schooling, you’ll eventually build up an excellent resume that will open more doors. “Think of where you would like to be in five years. Now start yourself off on the internship path that leads to your five-year goal. For example, if you dream of working as a lead administrator for an NFL sports team someday, try to land an internship in sports and build upon that,” FAMU Internship Coordinator Ranata Hughes said. In the meantime, keep track of all the internships you want to apply to. You can write down their due dates, construct cover letters personalized towards each position and consider whether you can see yourself working at each company.
You might be thinking, so what websites can I look into in pursuit of this internship? Let’s start with a solid one: LinkedIn. LinkedIn serves as a professional social media platform where you can connect with employers and friends, get inspiration and obtain the latest job info from potential employers. Think of it as if Facebook and the corporate world got married and had a baby. You can network with future employers and even apply to job listings directly from the websites, getting a grip on responsibilities, salary and if your skill set matches the job. Like seriously, how much cooler and easy can it get?
Next up on our list includes job searching websites like Indeed and Handshake. These two websites go hand and hand honestly. Just like LinkedIn, these two websites offer a huge search criterion. They will cater to you and mold the perfect profile for you by specifically asking for your major, university you attend and location. If you haven’t hopped on the bandwagon to join these websites and conduct the proper research, get on it ASAP. They provide you with direct contact with employers that some websites may not. Universities also partner with Handshake and Indeed to give students easier access to career opportunities. I guarantee that if you take the time to get to know the ins and outs of these websites, landing a position will feel like a piece of cake.
3. Interview Prep Adds the Cherry on Top
Alright, so you made it to the second round of the hiring process, congrats! Now it’s time to really dig deep and brush up on some interview skills so that you can truly secure your spot for the position. When it comes to interview prep, the key lies in your ability to relax and appear confident. “Interviews can be scary but having all your materials in order will make all the difference. Ask questions, maintain eye contact, dress to impress,” a career specialist at FAMU Sean Collins said. Googling the company you will interview at and getting to know what they stand for will save your life. Really getting to know what a company believes in can put you at an advantage. It can help you personalize your answers to their questions. If you go into an interview unprepared, know that it will cost, you. But at the same time, don’t over-prepare yourself. Overthinking does more bad than good.
Practicing potential questions in your mirror offers one solid way that has personally helped me land a few positions. I made the time to write down certain questions I thought I might get asked in the interview. Then, putting on my suit and giving myself a mock interview in the mirror, I gave myself that extra push that would confidently prepare me. This allowed me to analyze my expressions and responses with more precision. Just as you prepare for any giant test, when you find the time to prepare and find the perfect angle technique for your interview, you’ll find that things will all come together more smoothly.
4. Follow Up Like Your Life Depends On It
Just like the integral moments after a good date, following up after a job interview will also work wonders. After an interview, never wait up for a response without saying anything. “Showing an employer that appreciates their time and is happy to even have had an interview might move you up to the top of their list. If this is your dream internship like you say you’ll make that known to them after being interviewed,” FAMU SJGC Academic Advisor Regina McQueen said. Send a quick little email expressing gratitude or send a thank you note by mail to make it all the more personal to boost up your chances of scoring your internship. Those that find a way to personally relate to their employer and show initiative always end up making an impression.
5. Submit Your Resume Early
Procrastination will ruin a good thing if you let it. If you want to stand out, make sure the company of interest receives your application well in advance. When doing your research on what internships you want to apply for also make an important note of application deadlines. Most internships open up their internship applications a semester in advance to give candidates time to prepare. On the contrary, some companies make decisions months ahead of time. Always remember the earlier you apply and attack that internship application like a lion going in for the kill, the better chances you have at actually scoring the internship.
6. Cover Letters, but Make It Personable
Ah yes, the dreaded cover letter- the holy grail in which we just repeat everything on our resume in a much shorter and more appealing format. As much as we all hate them, this might just be one of the most important materials when applying to any job or internship. A cover letter is a customized letter to a future employer expressing interest in a position and will offer you a chance to shine and really pitch yourself for that position. Make sure your letter stands out from everyone else’s by making sure you dot those i’s and cross those t’s.
While the internet offers many cover letter templates that allow you to copy, paste and just fill in your information, that just won’t do. Cover letters can sometimes seem tedious and pointless but they show employers your passion and drive as a candidate. So similar to college apps when your personal letter had the potential to make or break you, invest just as much time into your cover letter.
7. Don’t Knock an Unpaid Internship
Internships not only provide the opportunity for you to gain experience in the professional field but also act as a source of income. Companies offer monetary compensation as an intern but sometimes you might not get so lucky in finding one that will pay you. But don’t worry, as long as we’re still in college, obtaining an income doesn’t have to be most important yet. Stop limiting your search to paid opportunities because that means missing out on some valuable experiences.
Unpaid internships offer just as much experience and you’ll also have a better chance at being selected when broadening your search to paid and unpaid. “A lot of internships during summer 2020 have been offering unpaid positions but I always tell my students to still keep those as an option because they still provide experience that could lead them to paid opportunities,” said Ranata Hughes, FAMU SJGC Internship Coordinator. Ever heard of that saying “don’t knock it until you try it”? Well, don’t knock an unpaid internship until you try it because any experience can be valuable.
8. Be Confident About What You Can Offer
As students, sometimes self-doubt can overcome us and we tend to underestimate our innate talent and skill. Use this self-doubt to your advantage and turn your quirks into a profitable skill. I try to always remember that any experience proves just as important as the experience another candidate has under their belt. You never know what an employer might be looking for in a candidate. Even if you feel as if you don’t qualify for the internship you’ve been yearning for, still apply.
The employers may see something in you that you don’t see in yourself that may be valuable to them and your company. As long as you show heart and drive, you still have a great chance of being selected. So bring the heart, drive and the little to no experience you may have. Allow your employer to see all you have to offer both professionally and as a person.
9. Add “Flexible” and “Coachable” To Your Trait Bank
Employers LOVE an intern that can just get the job done no matter how daunting or unattractive the task appears. Not presenting yourself as an easily coachable and flexible individual, will hurt your chances of being picked as an intern. We all know that the flexible and coachable make up the rare population of individuals who really get the job done. After all, as an intern, you are almost expected to come into this internship with an open mind and take on any unpredictable task.
Prove you have what it takes to stand out in the company by showing them you can retain information and apply it. Interns often get jobs no one else in the company wants to use this to your advantage. Make it known that you will willingly do these kinds of “bottom of the barrel” jobs so hiring you, in the end, will be a no-brainer for them. As you take on these sorts of jobs, you can assess what you do and don’t like about your desired career field.
10. Check out Company Reviews
Just like you skim the yelp reviews religiously before setting foot in a new restaurant, look at the reviews before accepting an internship! Yes, the pay and location might entice you but take into account other peoples’ experiences as interns at a particular company. Glassdoor and Indeed specifically have a section on their app that actually allows former interns to share their experience with others. Some of these reviews may be good while some of them may be really bad. Still, it’s in your best interest to take the time and read these reviews. Once you’ve done all this, you’ll feel ready to start your search for the internship of your dreams. Keep the faith and be persistent. All your hard work will pay off in the end, trust me.