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How to Stand Out When Applying to Internships

Hitting apply has never been easier

The internship application process is lengthy and draining. It’s easy to get caught up with the different steps needed to submit an application and thus feel overwhelmed any time you sit down to apply for roles. That’s why we’ve gathered some key tips to make the internship hunt simpler for all. With the upcoming Spring and Summer internships open, you can apply these tips to your applications in the near future.   

Apply as early as possible

Depending on the role and company you apply for, there could be hundreds of applicants applying for the same position. If you submit your application for an internship a few weeks after it was posted, your chances of hearing back may shrink by a lot, mostly because employers will likely pick a qualified candidate whose application they received earlier on. The early bird catches the worm — especially in the internship hunt.

Modify Resumes for each application

Changing up your resume for all new internship applications should be a no-brainer. But what exactly do these changes look like? If you have a lot of past experiences, consider the roles that are most closely related to the job you’re applying for (in terms of fields, job tasks, etc.) and only mention those key roles in your resume to utilize your space effectively. 

Another important modification to make is to use keywords directly from the job description in your resume. For example, if a job posting states that interns must know how to use Microsoft Word — which you may happen to know a lot about — then that is a crucial skill to mention. It also doesn’t have to be stated so obviously in the job description for you to include it. For example, if you are applying for a marketing internship, and you happen to have some knowledge related to analytics, then that is important to mention for that specific position. And of course, those marketing skills may not be the most important skill to mention for an engineering internship.  

Add cover letters, portfolios or personal websites

Nowadays, most positions will require you to submit cover letters alongside your resume when applying for an internship. Yet, if you ever come across an application where cover letters are optional, submitting that one document may be beneficial for you because it shows your interest in the position, and overall gives you a space to “talk” to the employers and share why you’re a great fit. 

Another great way to personalize your applications is through portfolios or personal websites. If you’re applying for a creative role, some companies may already require you to share a portfolio of your work as part of the application. But if that’s not the case – and you have the option to add additional documents – it would not hurt your application to submit a creative portfolio or a personal website (on which you can include other things in addition to an online portfolio). Doing so can help characterize your application further. 

Network network network

Networking with others, either in your field of interest or with individuals in a dream company of yours, is a great way to jumpstart your career. If you’re not sure about who to connect with, a good place to start is your college or university. Connecting with alumni, upperclass students, or your classmates is a great way to build your network when first starting out. Not only can you meet with these individuals to learn from their experiences, but many could potentially also offer you referrals. In simple terms, a referral acts like a nudge to companies from their current employees who already know your background and experience, and can then vouch for your ability to do well as a potential intern. This is a great way to ensure that your application actually gets reviewed and gives you a step-up from other applicants.  

always follow up

It’s easy to imagine that you are coming off as annoying or pushy when repeatedly contacting interviewers or hiring managers during the application process. Yet, this is one of the most crucial steps to follow. By following up either to ask about updates or provide new updates about your career, you show that you are still actively interested in the position and that you care about your application. The best-case scenario? You get an update regarding your application (hopefully some good news). The worst-case scenario? You don’t hear back at all. But there is not much to lose, and it can only be beneficial for you. Also, if you do happen to get a response that states you did not get that internship, staying in touch with that recruiter or hiring manager can potentially help you next time if you decide to apply to that company again. 

Internship applications are undoubtedly a big part of many college students’ lives. But it is important to remember that everyone is on a different journey and that internships will come and go. But we hope this advice helps out fellow students with their applications. Best of luck! 

Mariam is a freshman at NYU SPS. With a passion for ice cream, travel, and music, she aspires to write relatable content for the HerCampus NYU community. To chat or ask any questions, you can reach Mariam at [email protected]
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