Tips for Landing Your Perfect Internship

Having been on two summer internships and a 16 month internship, I realized how important internships are to help students succeed in their future career. Here are my tips for landing an internship:

1. Search periodically

You never know when an internship is going to come up! Every couple of weeks, you should check your school’s career site to see if anything interesting has been added. Sometimes, you don’t even know that you are interested in an internship until you see it has been posted. You should also keep a list of companies that you want to work for, and check on their career sites to see if anything interesting comes up. Don’t forget to check other places that companies may post as well, such as LinkedIn and Talent Egg.

2. Know your school

Get to know your school, because every school is different. I was fortunate enough to have a friend tell me about the internship program at my school; I always thought that my school’s faculty didn’t have a co-op or internship program. Many schools are starting to implement co-op programs, while other schools have voluntary internship programs. If your school has either, be sure to take advantage of them because that is the best way to get access to internal job postings.

3. Don’t be afraid to try

There were many times where I saw an internship posting that I thought I was not qualified enough to apply for. However, that is not always the case from the employer's point of view, many companies do not look only for skill qualifications. If they see that you have a great cover letter that shows how motivated you are to work for their company, they will give you an interview. Just remember: there is no harm in applying for the internship if it is something that interests you. Be confident in yourself!

4. Time management  

Applying for internships take time! Many students do not apply for internships simply because they do not have the time to apply after they finish their busy day. My tip to avoid this is to create a cover letter and resume during your less busy times, such as summer or winter break. That way, you will always have a resume and cover letter ready at all times. Your resume should not change too much since many of the internships you apply for will require the same skills. However, your cover letter should always change a little. Read Tip #6 for more detail on creating a great cover letter.

5. The importance of your resume

I will be honest here: 90% of the time, your resume is just skimmed over by the employer. However, it is still extremely important to create a great resume because there are many computer software systems that can scan your resume to check for spelling and grammar mistakes, as well as keywords in your resume. If your resume does not pass the scan, the recruiter will not even look at it. This is why I would encourage you to always put in keywords that you think the employer would be looking for specifically for that position. If your school has a place where you can have your resume checked by a trained individual, I would encourage you to go there to get advice before submitting your resume.

6. Change your cover letter

Never submit the same cover letter to different employers -- or even for different jobs with the same employer. Your cover letter should tell the employer why you want that specific job with that specific company. You can highlight key points from your resume, but do not repeat anything unnecessary that you have already written in your resume. Your first paragraph that introduces yourself can be left the same, but after that nothing should be copied and pasted from another cover letter. The employers take time to read your cover letter, and they immediately notice if you have a generic cover letter. Once again, if your school has a place where you can have your cover letter checked by a trained individual, I would encourage you to go there to get advice before submitting your cover letter.

7. Acing your interview

Be yourself! Don’t be nervous. I know it’s easier said than done, but don’t think of it as an “interview.” I always think of interviews as a way to see if I would fit in with the company. It’s not just them interviewing me, but also me interviewing them. If you think about it that way, it will seem more like a conversation rather than a formal interview. Many interviewers actually like it a lot more if the interview is shaped in a two way conversation; rather than them just asking you questions, and you answering.

8. Stay true to yourself

Most importantly, stay true to yourself when you are applying to internships. Do not apply somewhere where you do not feel like you would fit in. Just because your friends are applying to that internship or because people are saying that it is a prestigious company or firm does not mean that YOU necessarily should intern there. Make sure the internship is something that you want, and that you feel is a good fit.