Whether you are in the famous commerce co-op program at Dal, or are looking for an internship to elevate your resume, applying for an internship is an intimidating process. As someone in their second co-op term and currently interviewing for my third, here are the tips and tricks I have learned for securing a placement.
Part 1: NETWORKING, LEVERAGING CONNECTIONS AND STANDING OUT BEFORE THE APPLICATION PROCESS
An employer wants to hire someone who has genuine interest and a passion for the company and job. One of the best ways to demonstrate that you have this urge is reaching out to connections you know at the company and building bridges with employees through LinkedIn. I always begin this process by determining who I might have a connection with through my past network and reaching out to them. If not, you can find just about anyone on LinkedIn. Usually, people are more than happy to talk about themselves and their past experiences; you would be surprised what just one connection on LinkedIn can do for the success of your application. Here is what third year accounting major Neda Salehi has to say about the power of a LinkedIn connection:
“I was looking to make a switch for my fall co-op and I reached out to a LinkedIn connection who interviewed me previously the year before. She talked to me about her experiences and gave me great advice and insight. At the end of the call, she asked me to send her my resume so she could distribute it around the firm for me. I ended up interviewing for a co-op at the firm and, with her help, I was able to secure it.”
Part 2: ANALYZING THE APPLICATION
Alright, it is recruiting season and you have the application of your dreams in front of you. What’s next? The number one practice that helped me get interviews in both of my co-op searches was putting myself into the perspective of the recruiter. What do they want to see? What do they want to hear? How can I match my application to what they are looking for? Making an application can be reduced down into a couple of steps.
- Go through the company’s mission statement and their core values; write them down.
- Scan the application and match adjectives or verbs to experiences you have from past work, extracurriculars, or life experiences.
- Start with your resume. Match the company values and job posting keywords to your work experience, profile, and extra curriculars. Tip: recruiting softwares pick up applications that have words in common to the application – this is an easy way to make your package stand out.
- Everyone writes their cover letter differently. The key to making yours stand out is highlighting what makes you different from all the other applicants. Tip: research the company and a deal, initiative, or project they have completed and tie this in with why you are a good fit and are interested in the work they are doing.
Part 3: THE INTERVIEW
You’ve made it! Getting an interview means that the company has determined that you have the technical and tactical skills to do the job, but want to learn more about how good of a fit you might be. Interviews vary depending on the industry: finance tends to include more technical questions, HR will test your behavioural habits and marketing might ask you for a writing sample or to present a case study. Preparing for an interview can look like this:
- Preparing questions you think they might ask. For finance roles, Wall Street Oasis and Glassdoor almost always have resources. You might want to reach out to someone on LinkedIn who has had the job before and ask what they experienced in their interview. No matter what, you should prepare to answer a bit about yourself, what you know about the company, and why you think you are the best fit for the position.
- Practice! It may feel funny, but the more you prepare, the better you’ll feel in the interview. Nominate one of your friends to ask you questions or use some flashcards.
- Research who is interviewing you. This is so important. If you are able to, ask a question at the end of the interview that shows you looked the employees up on LinkedIn. This really demonstrates you are serious about the position.
At the end of the day, two of the most important things to understand about interviews are (1) knowing what the objective of the employer is and (2) being yourself is the ultimate impressor. You should walk into an interview knowing what the employer wants to get out of it and walk away feeling as though you had a simple, genuine conversation with them.
Part 4: POST INTERVIEW
You got the job! Or, you didn’t. In either circumstance, you should feel proud of the experience you gained and how it can help you down the road. If you did not receive an offer, there is no saying that there is not a possibility of working at that company in the future. Keep networking with contacts and keeping up to date with the news of the company. Most employers operate internship or co-op programs on a cyclical basis so chances are, you may be applying for one of their roles in the future. Keeping connected with the company shows them you are passionate and serious about working for them. The most important part is to not get discouraged. At banks and larger marketing firms you hear countless stories of current employees who got rejected interview after interview before finally getting into the company. Most of the time, what eventually got the employee into the company was talking and networking constantly.
Applying for co-ops and internships can be extremely daunting but the payoff of having a term of experience under your belt is second to none. Hopefully this article can help you not only land the interview, but get the internship of your dreams.