With summer fast approaching, you have applied to every internship you can think of and are now checking your phone and email obsessively waiting to hear back. It's worse than the three-day waiting period after a great first date—it's been almost a week now and you're dying to find out what that company thinks of your stellar résumé and solid references. Well, wait no longer. It's time to actively seek the internship opportunity you're vying for, and we're here to show you how!
Step 1: Network before you apply
In the professional world, who you know matters. Whether you make connections with peers or professors in the classroom or with an employer during a summer job, it’s well worth making the most of your connections to get the internship you’re gunning for.
Ali, a junior at the University of Florida, recently landed her dream internship at Conde Nast. It started with a personal connection who set up an interview with an HR representative for her, but she had to lay some of the ground work herself, as well.
“I think it's important to remember that although you may have a personal connection to help you, your application and personality must still stand out,” she says. “I felt more pressure than ever to prove that I was capable and deserving of the internship.”
Just hours after the interview at the Conde Nast building, Ali sent a follow-up email to her interviewer to thank her for her time. On the flight back to Florida, she wrote thank you notes by hand to her interviewer and personal connection to emphasize her appreciation.
“I think this is a special touch that a lot of people forget,” Ali says. “This can show how much you genuinely appreciate someone, and it also demonstrates your manners. I also ended up getting the internship. I'll be headed to New York at the beginning of June!”
We know how much you want this internship, but your prospective employers are going to be faced with a stack of applications and if you don’t prove to them how serious you are about this position, you will be lost in the crowd. Gratitude also counts, and showing appreciation to your personal connections will only strengthen them in the long run.
Step 2: Play the waiting game
There is no golden waiting period after you turn in an application, but experts suggest waiting about a week after you submit an application to check back in. Especially if the position has a rolling deadline, there’s a good chance the company is still wading through multiple applications and hasn’t had time to look at yours yet.
“Depending on the timeline of the hiring process, I always advise interns to follow-up once a week for three to four weeks,” says Heather Huhman, founder and president of Come Recommended. “If you've applied before the deadline, however, do not follow-up until after the deadline has passed.”
Patience pays off when it comes to the internship application process. Checking in too soon may make you seem pushy.
“I typically wait a week before following up, as they are most likely experiencing a flood of applications,” Jess Corry, a senior at the College of New Jersey, says.
Jessica Pawlarczyk, a junior at Vanderbilt University, waits a bit longer to pursue her applications.
“I have waited to email about the status of my application when it has been two weeks past the date the interviewer told me that I would be notified,” she says. “When writing this kind of email, I start by saying that I am ‘still very interested in the internship position’ and would like to check on the status of the position.”
Step 3: Be assertive
Jess recommends being forward when it comes it following up.
“This fall, I had an interview in New York City and so as not to waste a full day in the city, I touched base with the places I had applied to and asked if by chance they would like to schedule an interview for that day,” she says.
“Sadly, in my case, it didn't work out for that specific day, but it gave me an excuse to remind them I existed underneath that pile of resumes without being annoying and we were able to schedule an interview at a later date.”
Huhman does not advise following up in person. But Cathy Marquez, assistant director for employer relations at the University of Maine’s career center, sees it a bit differently.
“If you are applying with a local employer (near to where you are living) there is nothing wrong with stopping by in person to check on the status of your application,” she says. “However, when doing so, the applicant should be wearing the same type of clothing she would wear for an interview.”
Showing your interest in the position by seeking out opportunities to meet with the companies you’re applying to will set you apart from other applicants.