Looking for jobs and internships is one of the most stressful parts of any college student’s life, so I am here to share my experiences and the lessons I’ve learned through the process that I never knew or thought of until I went through it myself.
1. Look early!!
My biggest regret as a Junior in college is the fact that I did not look for internships earlier in the year. If you are looking to for an internship at a large company, you should apply by the end of September. Many large companies have their interns hired for the summer by the end of October or November. At the latest, you should be applying and interviewing with companies by the end of the first semester.
2. Do your research
There is nothing more embarrassing than when you are interviewing for a job that you know nothing about. Be sure to do your research on the company beforehand, as well as the duties and responsibilities that the job consists of. I have always gotten the question of, “why do you want to work here?” Another question that is popular for recruiters to ask is, “what would you bring to our company if you were hired?” So, I would recommend doing deep research into the company before your interview and knowing how to answer the question when they ask why you want to work for that particular company.
3. Be confident
Lack of confidence is my biggest weakness, and it has hurt me during interviews in the past. When interviewing for an internship position, you are competing against a ton of other people, so if you lack confidence they will most likely move on to another candidate because if you are second guessing what you are saying about yourself, you will be second guessing every decision you make on any project you are working on at your job. Not only should you be confident when answering questions, but also do not be afraid to brag about yourself. Talk about your skills and accomplishments that help you stand out as a candidate and will give a recruiter something to remember when they see your name in their list of hundreds of candidates.
4. Always send a follow-up email
Employers LOVE when you take the time to send them an email after an interview to say thank you for their time and show that you are extremely interested in the job you are applying for. I never knew until recently that this is something that you should do. I interviewed at plenty of places last year, and never sent a follow-up email afterwards, and I quite frequently wonder, would I have had a better chance of getting the job if I took the time to send the employer a thank you email?
5. Put yourself out there
This is something that I have always been nervous to do. I think it is so important to network yourself and use the connections you have. I know people who work for big, competitive companies that I have always dreamt of working for, and until recently I was always terrified to bother them and ask them if I could use them as a reference when applying for jobs. I always believed I was putting them in an awkward position and they wouldn’t want to do it, but I’ve learned that people you know in the corporate world were all once in this position where they went through the stressful process of looking for jobs and internships and they would love to help!
I am still learning every day and every interview, but you will never learn these things if you never try. Put yourself out there. Apply to the job you don’t believe you would ever be qualified enough for. Take chances because that is what life is all about. I will be very bold and say, I have applied to between 60 and 70 jobs, and only heard back from about 15 of those companies, and made it past the first round of interviews with less than 10 of them. I would not have gotten the practice and experience I’ve gotten if I never applied and took my chances with those 60+ companies.