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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at San Francisco chapter.

I’m sure you’ve noticed too: Every time you apply for an entry-level job, the first thing listed on the company’s job requirements is that you must have previous experience. Actually, with the state of the job market nowadays, experience is almost more valuable than the school you went toAnyways, at this point, we all know that internships are uncontestably the best way for a college student to acquire extensive experience in the field they’re interested in.

You don’t know what you want to do yet? Fear not. Internships are also a great way to figure out what it is that you would enjoy doing as a career by getting one foot in a given industry. The earlier, the better.

Resume and cover letter: the formula hasn’t changed. From extracurricular activities to volunteering, everything you’ve done that taught you something counts. If you’re a freshman, make sure to build your resume according to the internship you’re applying for (even if you only have a vague idea). As a freshman, I applied for a Marketing Assistant internship in a Fashion house, and I used my course knowledge and what I learned during Business games, because it was all I had done so far. This article will guide you through the building of your resume and cover letter.

Some companies will require you to earn some experience before applying for an internship. And just like me, you’ll think: “What do you think I am applying for?” Well, as I said above, the competition is fierce, so you have to find a way to get experience through volunteering. There must be associations and clubs on your campus that can provide you with leadership activities, which look good on your resume. For example, before applying to more fashion-related internships, I decided to join the Fashion Network Association at SFSU to get acquainted with fashion-related activities, and to apply for a volunteer position during Paris Fashion Week. This kind of experience gives you time to make mistakes and learn from them. A company will not do that for you!

After sending your resume and cover letter, be prepared for rejection: you might be called in for an interview three days later, three months later, or not at all. But don’t give up. Most of the time, your resume falls through the cracks because it lacked the right key-words, or the employer found someone with slightly more experience than you. It’s not you, it’s the job market. The competition is harsh, and you must be persistent. Be patient, but don’t forget to follow up after 3 weeks, if you haven’t heard back. Depending on the size of the company, it can take months before they go through all applications.

In a lot of industries, it’s about who you know. Make sure to go to networking events organized on your campus and have meaningful conversations with the guests. Ask for their business cards so you can contact them in the future to follow up on your conversation. Use LinkedIn to connect with people in the industry of your choice and keep in touch with them.

The bottom line is: get as much experience as you possibly can, because this is what will make you stand out from the crowd.

Share your thoughts: what is the hardest for you when applying for an internship? How do you get employers to notice you?

Good luck!