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6 Internship Application Tips That Have Helped Me Land Every Position

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

Tiresome. Hopeful. Stressful. Detailed. Exciting. There are a variety of words that can be used to describe the internship application process. We experience the excitement of filling out the application and the anxiety of waiting for a follow up message, and nothing stings more than the “We’ve decided to pursue other candidates at this time,” email.

I’m about to graduate in June, and I’ve been applying to internships since my winter quarter of my freshman year. I’ve interned with companies such as Comcast, Michele Marie PR, Fox TMZ’s TooFab.com and more. I’ve learned a lot over the last three years, and I am proud to say that I have developed tricks to give me a relatively high success rate. Since 2020, I’ve been offered a position every time I’ve made it to the interview round, so here are some tips that have helped me along the way.

Have A Working Resumé

Before we reach the interview round, we need to make it past the first resumé round. A lot of times, it is AI machines that read your resumé, and human eyes won’t see the document we’ve worked so hard on unless it is flagged. So how do we get flagged? Don’t mass apply to positions with the same document. Even if it’s just a couple bullets that are different, I’ve never applied with the same resumé for more than one position. 

The key to editing is to look at the job description of the position you want and implement the keywords into your application. For example, if the job is requesting the candidate heavily works with Adobe, make sure Adobe is in your skills section or mention how you have used it in previous positions. I apply to a lot of journalism positions, and often the job description includes “able to work in a busy or chaotic newsroom,” so I make sure one of my previous position bullets includes “created articles in an active and busy newsroom.” The AI is going to use the job description to scan for potential resumés, and you’ll be more likely to get flagged if you actually use words from the description. 

Another side tip: Don’t use abbreviations for clubs, because both AIs and humans won’t know what it is. For example, I am heavily involved in the Film and Photography Society at UCLA, which is commonly referred to as “FPS” on campus. However, I make sure to fully spell it out at least once in my resumé, so recruiters have a clearer idea of what the club is. 

Make Your Resumé Bullets About Your Accomplishments

This can be challenging, but what makes a resumé stand out is showing what was unique to our time at clubs or previous positions. Someone once told me that any recruiter can look up a job or club description to get an idea of what your role was, so personalize bullets, so they learn something that isn’t an easy Google search. 

For example, for my internship with Comcast, I don’t put “helped lead internal communication campaigns,” rather I put something along the lines of “Co-lead of an internal video campaign that engaged 98 fellow interns and centered around company culture.”

Write An Original Cover Letter For Each App

Yes, even if it’s optional, write the cover letter. I am a certified cover letter hater, but they are a necessity. Writing one helps give the impression that you are eager and already separates you from other candidates. Plus, it’s just a page. I bet you’ve written discussion posts that are longer!

Like our resumés, we don’t want to mass apply with the same cover letter. Have a working one or different drafts to pull from and edit. Intro paragraphs often don’t need much editing, but we usually need to vary which positions or qualities we choose to highlight in the body. I have cover letters that are different for my fashion vs. entertainment positions because each industry looks for different things. 

For the conclusion paragraph, I encourage looking up some type of company culture or history to incorporate and show how you could fit into or contribute to the already established structure that you so much admire (yes, compliment the company).

Pre-game For Your Interview With An Outline

Congratulations, we’ve made it past the AI and resumé rounds, now time to secure the position with some stellar interviews. I like to think of interviews like going out in college with your friends. Before the night/interview starts, you need to make some objectives and pregame. However, we are pre-gaming with some outlines and conversation points, not beverages and social goals. 

I always open a Google doc before my interview and write out bullets for the following topics: the elevator pitch about myself (because 90% of interviews start with “Tell me about yourself”), relevant past experiences that I want to highlight (both professional and non-professional) and some traits for the personality questions that I could potentially be asked (for example, in my last interview, I was asked 3 ways my friends would describe me). 

If we know about some of the things we could potentially be asked about, also pre-game for those. For example, when I apply to journalism internships, I always have a couple of mock pitches in the back of my head because there is a high probability I will be asked to give a pitch or angle on an event. Or, I recently have been offered a position as a Depop campus ambassador, and my pre-game outline included ideas for campus events to help with exposure. Going the extra step with this extra prep will show recruiters your seriousness. 

If the first interview is one of those virtual ones with a webcam, still pre-game, but make sure to emphasize a lot of key job terms and draw heavily from the job description. If it is over Zoom, have your outline open in another window in case you want to subtly reference it. If it is in person, make sure you spend enough time pregaming to still feel the effects when it’s finally go time. 

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Have questions ready for your interviewer

Your interview (unless an automated web cam one) will always end with “time for questions,” or your recruiter asking “do you have any questions for me?” Always have around three questions ready, even if we think we already know the answer. Asking questions shows even more initiative and interest. Here is a list of some of my go-to questions. 

  • This interview has been really helpful and great. I was wondering, what are traits that you are specifically looking for in a candidate that I can keep in mind? 
  • What are the next steps in this process, and is there anything I can do? 
  • What is a typical day like for X? 
  • What is your favorite part about your job or working at X company? 

You can also create questions unique to the position. For example, for my Depop interviews, I asked questions about turn around times for expected event plannings. 

Send a follow up email

This step is highly debated on whether it is necessary or not, but it can never hurt to send a thank you/follow up email to your interviewer or recruiter who scheduled the interview. I always do it 30 mins – 90 mins after the interview, but there is no perfect time line. The email should only be a couple sentences, and it can be along the lines of this template. 

  • Subject line: Thank you for today 
  • Dear X, 

I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your time today. I really appreciated our interview, and learned so much about _______. I am looking forward to hearing from you in the next _____, and please let me know if there is anything I can do for you in the meantime!

Best wishes, 


  • Also feel free to add a couple of personalized sentences where you see fit. For example, in my last interview, my history as a pageant contestant came up, but we ran out of time to discuss it further. Therefore, in my follow up email, I added a sentence about being willing to provide more information with my resumé/history as a contestant if needed or wanted. 

Also, don’t be afraid to add your interviewer or recruiter on LinkedIn!

I hope these tips helped you learn at least one new thing or gave you the confidence to try something new in your next process. Never be afraid to apply to an job or internship or be afraid of rejection because the first start of any job process is believing in yourself, and here at HC UCLA, we believe in you already!

BriannaRose is a UCLA Communications major and Film/TV minor who aspires to break boundaries and stigmas. As an aspiring creative director and editorial writer, she works on student films and photography projects, and has professional experience in entertainment and fashion journalism, fashion public relations and internal communications for cable. In addition to writing, BriannaRose volunteers at local animal shelters, competes in pageants, and is always excited to read a contemporary romance novel.