While landing the ideal summer internship can be a time consuming process, no one can deny that the internship search is becoming an essential and equally stressful aspect of the college experience. To help you avoid the summer internship season meltdown, HC Binghamton is tackling your top internship dilemmas once and for all with a little help from the Career Development Center.
Dilemma #1: You apply to only one internship...or you apply to 100
A good internship application can require hours of work. Tailoring a cover letter to reflect your own unique interest in a company while highlighting your personal strengths can be exhausting. You may feel it’s better and more feasible considering your busy schedule, to apply to only one or two internships. According to Laura O’Neill, academic internship coordinator for Binghamton’s Career Development Center, it’s important for students to be persistent and apply to the internships they are most interested in, “Rule of thumb start with 5 applications. See how it goes and if you don’t get any bites, apply to 5 more.” O’Neill explained, “Don’t just apply for any old internship. If you do, you can run into problems managing time throughout semester."
Bill McCarthy, associate director of the Career Development Center agrees that applying to multiple internships is beneficial, “Remember, if you're fishing one line, you only have one chance”, McCarthy said. McCarthy also cautioned students to avoid “shot gunning” resumes, “Avoid sending generic resumes and generic cover letters. You may say ‘Oh I applied to 100 internships', but how many of those applications were productive?”
Dilemma #2: You ace your application, but you mess up your interview
Your resume was flawless. You made sure it portrayed you as organized and detail oriented. Your cover letter? It was an expertly crafted love letter explaining why you and this internship were perfect for each other. The interview? You said your biggest weakness was procrastination, forgot all of your relevant experience, and left without shaking your interviewer’s hand -- and this was all before you suffered that post interview panic attack as you sat on the subway thinking to yourself “what just happened".
Many students master their applications, but “psyche themselves out” and suffer anxiety when it comes to interviews. McCarthy maintains that the key to a successful interview is preparation, “Know what the internship is all about and make sure your resume matches up well.” McCarthy explained, “When someone greets you in a lobby, stand up, give a good, firm hand shake, and look them in the eye. Be remembered for looking professional and acting professional.”
And when it comes to staying calm and collected when faced with tricky questions like “Tell us your biggest weakness,” McCarthy again advises students to plan ahead to avoid freezing, “Prepare what questions you think might be asked, and game plan what might want to say.” McCarthy said, “Prepare 3-6 strengths and weaknesses. In some ways, it is good to take a strength and tweak it to almost look like a weakness.”
Dilemma #3: You want to switch industries
But maybe your intern dilemma has nothing to do with resumes, interviews, or networking. You could instead be one of countless students across the country that interned at a great company, but discovered that working in your “dream industry” wasn’t exactly the dream you always thought it would be. Now, as you scroll through an endless abyss of summer internship listings, you can’t help but feel overwhelmed and confused: Do you stick to your plan and devote another summer to an industry that might not be the right fit? Or should you apply for internship in a different industry?
O’Neill maintains that students should not be discouraged from trying an internship in a different industry, “Students are showing initiative and motivation to explore their career options.” O’Neill explained, “Even if you have interned in different industries, the bottom line is that the skills you gain from all of them will most likely be transferable when looking for a job.”
The perfect summer internship may seem unattainable at times, but with some preparation and a dose of confidence, the offer of your dreams is well within your reach!
*Photo Courtesy of Google Images*