What It's Like Going Through an Internship Search

For advertising majors at Central, all students need to do a for-credit internship. After having a great study abroad experience last summer and finally leaving my beloved high school job, it's now time for me to find an internship for Summer 2019.

So, first things first. You need to research what companies have positions open and what positions they have. I narrowed my search by looking at locations that I would want to live in over the summer. I also started by looking at companies I was familiar with. For some companies finding internship opportunities on their websites is easy enough and done in the regular job search. For others, the internships are separate and hidden away on the site. The most frustrating part about starting to look for an internship is the time differences in companies internship postings. I’ve looked at companies that had their internship applications up in October and have spoken to a few that won’t be posting theirs until February.

After you find a few that you want to apply for, be ready to talk to professors and bosses. Most applications will ask for three references, so you’ll need to be in contact with the people you’d like to use. Always send an email asking if they would be willing to serve as a reference. Add what the position is, what company it is for, why you think they should serve as your reference, and add a few skills that you know you demonstrated while working for or with them. Sending your resume to your reference is always nice so they can see what you are involved in before they give a testimonial on your behalf. You should also add how you think they will be contacted (phone, email), if they’ll have to fill out a form, if it’s just a quick chat, or any other information you may have about them being contacted. Remember, they are doing you a really nice favor, make the process as easy for them as possible.

When filling out your application: don’t rush. Be honest about all of your personal information, obviously. Have the company's websites up and look at their mission statement, get familiar with what the company is about. When answering the open-ended questions, talk about how you can relate to the company’s goals and why you would be a good fit for the company. You might have a lot of cool experiences and skills, but only highlight the ones that will benefit the company, the others all just crowd your application.

Applications also usually have spots for a resume and a cover letter. You should be constantly updating your resume; tweaking it a little as you go. Ask others to look over your resume. Especially ask a good mix of people who are and are not in the same type of field as you. Your business friends will have a lot of great tips, definitely use those, but their resumes are going to look wildly different from someone in a more creative field and vice versa. Learning to write a cover letter is also a great skill. The biggest thing in a cover letter is to sell yourself to the company in a short space. Again, highlight why your experiences will be beneficial to the company and how they will help you succeed. Don’t write too much, this is just a short introduction to who you are.

After you finish the application, you can relax. But wait, there's more! You should always be on the lookout for more opportunities. Don’t apply to one or two things and sit back, keep looking and have back up plans.

When you get an interview, practice with your friends or family by having them give you hard questions that employers could ask. Career Services at CMU has great opportunities for you to prepare for your interview. They have mock interviewers that will ask you questions and act as if you are truly in a job interview and after will give you tips. You can also make an appointment at First Impressions to get appropriate attire for any events.

For the interview, always dress appropriately. Some interviews call for khakis and a nice shirt, others prefer business professional. Know which clothing you should wear and then commit. How you look says a lot about you, even in more relaxed interviews you shouldn’t be wearing party clothes. When being asked questions, take your time to answer. A great tip I learned for a mock interviewer was to use the “BAR” method. It stands for background, action, and result. When an interviewer asks a question, give them the background on the situation you were in, the action that you took, and what the results of that action were. You can also bring in a notepad and write down a few keywords that you think will help you answer questions. Of course, have a few questions to ask them at the end. I like to ask them what they really like about the company they work for. It allows you to see what employees value there and if that's something you are looking for in a workplace. Always be gracious and thank everyone for their time and allowing you to speak with them.

After, be aware of who is calling and emailing you. I know someone who’s job offer went to their spam, so just be conscious of what you are receiving. If you hear back and don’t get an offer, always end the communication on a good note. That shows your character and they might consider you again in the future. If you do get an offer, you do not have to accept right away. Take your time to consider it, make sure you ask all of your questions so you have a complete picture of what you will be doing.

Additional Tips

If you are contacting anyone from the company always be polite and make sure you are professional even if it is someone from a different department. Your emails will be looked at to see how you conduct yourself, it all goes into your profile.

If there are any events at the company during the time period you are applying, definitely go. I went to a development day for a company and was able to mock interview and get my resume critiqued. It was also a great experience that I could talk about in the interview at that company.

Always be prepared, polite, and personable! Good luck!