It’s that time of year again; the time when students must figure out what they want to do over the summer. The options are endless. From being a camp counselor at the camp you went to as a child, to traveling with family and friends, many choose to apply to internships to get “real world” working experience. Internships are a great way to enhance a student’s educational experience and aid their decisions about their potential career path. Internships are great resume builders as well. If you’re thinking about applying to internships this summer, here are 12 tips to help you score one.
1. Visit the Career Center at your college.
Even if you feel that you have a good handle on your resume and cover letter, the Career Center is always willing to perfect what you have. These are professionals who know what employers are looking for and can show you samples of cover letters and resumes of students who have had success. They can also suggest places and interview tips to search online to find internships based on your interests. The Career Center at Muhlenberg is located on the lower level of Seegers Union, right across from the bookstore. Stop in to make your appointment today!
2. Research, research, and do more research.
Is there a specific company that you have always dreamed of working for? Try looking at their website to see what internship opportunities exist. Even if you were unable to find any listings through other sources, they may have offerings on their personal website. Websites such as indeed.com and internships.com can be extremely helpful in identifying a variety of internship opportunities in your area.
3. Don’t feel too intimidated to try.
Buzzfeed and NBC are examples of places that have great opportunities for interns but are extremely selective. While you may be tempted to not apply because the odds may not be in your favor, if everybody was so discouraged and did not apply, then they would have no interns. Those bold enough to try at least create a chance to attain such selective internships.
4. Proofread everything.
It is too easy to press submit on an online application without rereading e-mails, cover letters, or resumes for grammatical errors. While it is a hassle, proper spelling and grammar will show the employer that you are conscientious and are willing to put effort into your application. In addition, for communication, marketing, and editorial internships specifically, employers are most likely looking for interns who are proficient in writing. If they notice careless writing or constant typos, they are likely to dismiss your application.
5. Start applying early.
Applying early will show interest and initiative; it will also allow you to keep your options open. Some places may not have an application deadline until March-May, but others may have a December-January deadline. The earlier you start, the less overwhelmed you will be applying to those places with later deadlines. In addition, you will have a ready-to- go resume and cover letter you can use with any needed alterations. While not always true, early applicants may get more attention since the employer is looking at things with fresh eyes compared to applicants who apply later.
6. Apply to multiple companies and organizations.
Despite what some may say, there is no such thing as applying to too many places! It is important to keep your options open when applying to internships as they tend to be very selective. Keep in mind, you may not even hear back once you have applied. While some will let you know if they have rejected you, others may simply not reply. The more places that receive your application, the more likely you are to end up with an internship that you will truly enjoy.
7. Don’t discount unpaid internships.
Even unpaid internships can be a great learning experience and can give you an impressive credential to use on your resume. These experiences can also lead to future jobs if you produce a great impression on your supervisor. Last summer, I had an unpaid internship but also worked a paid job. While I did not make money from the unpaid internship, I gained experience, became much more knowledgeable about the field that I am interested in going into, and was accepted because of it, by other internships.
8. Remember that you may be more qualified than you think.
Consider all your hobbies, skills, experiences, and talents that you have. For example, knowledge of Photoshop and graphic design can be an asset. These additional skills or talents can be what allows you to supersede another applicant.
9. Add details to your LinkedIn.
Employers may search your name to view your experience and qualifications that were not necessarily listed in your application. This is a chance to include volunteer experience, research, projects, hobbies, articles, or work experience that you did not include on your resume. Adding a profile picture will also help make your profile stand out, and by doing so, you are more likely to be remembered by potential employers.
10. Ace the interview.
Not everyone reaches the interview step, so if you have, then you are already being considered! Interviews can be anxiety producing, so sometimes writing down insightful questions you would like to ask, along with notes about the site to review beforehand can be helpful. Try your best to arrive early for the interview since lateness will be a strike against you, dress nicely, answer concisely, show interest, and try to exude confidence. The interviewer can sense if you feel assured of your abilities and is then more likely to feel assured about you.
11. Keep in touch.
Be sure to send a follow-up e-mail to thank an employer for an interviewer and inquire several weeks after applying if applicants are still being considered. You can also ask a question to clarify something that was discussed. This will show employers that you have been thinking about the internship and are interested in it. This may help get you stand out. Even if you do not get accepted, you may get priority over someone else who seems less interested in the internship if you ever want to reapply.
12. Be positive!
Most internships are competitive so don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t get accepted at your top choices. Remember you can always apply again next summer. Try to focus on the pros so that you can enjoy the internship you were able to get. Some perks of your second choice internship can be having the ability to add something impressive to your resume, learning a new computer program, or proving to yourself that you can keep up in a faced paced work environment.