Whether it’s a paid internship, an unpaid internship, or an internship for school credit and no matter where the opportunity is, internships are not easy to come by and they definitely are not easy to get. People often think that just because internships aren’t a full-time career that the time and effort needed to succeed in obtaining one is minimal. Take it from me, this is definitely not the case.
As long as you put in the work, you can land your dream internship (or at least a fantastic internship), but you want to make sure you are putting in a smart effort, not a hard effort. I’m not saying that the process won’t be hard, but if you are organized and do your research, you won’t feel miserable during the entire application process. That’s where I come in. Let me help you work smart and not hard when it comes to you landing an amazing internship! Read on!
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Most of you may be shocked that I’m starting off with talking about cover letters and no resumes, but you will see why in a second. Often times, people make one cover letter template and use it for every internship that they apply to. DO NOT DO THIS! I know it takes more time and effort, but if you individualize each cover letter to the company you are sending it to, it will show the company that they aren’t just one on a list of 50; it will show them that you want to get hired because you put in the extra effort. Another cover letter tip has to do with optional cover letters. Some companies don’t ask you to submit such a document; even if this is the case, still write and submit one along with your resume. It will show that you went the extra mile and that you aren’t just taking the easy route (it shows a strong worth ethic and diligence)
If you make it to the interview process, make an appointment at a career center to set up a mock interview with a counselor. Career centers not only have a background in the field and will help you be your best self in the interview, but they will also help with your interview outfit. In addition, as the saying goes, practice makes perfect. The more that you practice your interview, the less likely you are to use silly filler words (i.e. “like,” “um,” and “so”). Another way to prepare for your interview is to go on websites, such as Glass Door, in which people who interview at that same company will post the questions that they were asked, along with the position he/she was applying for. If you don’t want to go to the career center, practice in front of the mirror, practice in front of friends and family, and type out or handwrite questions and responses so that they are forever engrained in your head. An additional note: have a strong, firm, confident handshake. A handshake says a lot about a person.
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If you have a friend who offers to help you with your resume, that’s really nice, but take into consideration the job he/she is going into. I say this because a friend of mine offered to help me with my resume, but she was going into finance and I was originally going into creative writing. Potential creative writing employers are going to want to see a more creative-looking resume, while finance employers will want to see something business-formal and extremely direct. You want your resume to highlight who you are, your accomplishments, your educations, your honors and awards, etc., but that doesn’t mean it needs to look or be boring. Go on Etsy and look up cool resume and cover letter templates that will make you stand out on paper since it’s impossible to get to know each applicant on a personal level. Microsoft Word also has some free resume templates if you don’t want to pay. Just remember to include the following, regardless of what your template is:NameDescription (who you are and what you’re looking to do)Contact information (e-mail, phone number, address, LinkedIn profile link, website/portfolio link, etc.)Academics from the past 4 yearsJobs/internships/extracurricular positions from the past for yearsAward and honors held from the last 4 years (National Honor’s Society can be mentioned since you are inducted for life, even if you were inducted more than 4 years ago)Leadership and activities from the last 4 yearsSkills and strengths
In addition, don’t just list everything; provide a brief description (it can be bullet-pointed) under each thing you mention.
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Landing a great internship won’t take the same pathway for everyone, but what is talked about above are most of the common denominators that have to be considered in most internship application processes. I’m warning you now: there are going to be a lot of ups and downs throughout the application journey, but don’t get discouraged and please don’t give up. Remember that everything happens for a reason and you will find a great internship as long as you work hard and smart! Good luck!