Finding an internship can be a very nerve racking experience. I know that I’ve heard about the importance of internships since I began college. I was told that I wouldn’t find a job without one and that they were very competitive and it scared me. Now that my college days are way behind me and I landed several very good internships and jobs with reputable companies like The American Lung Association, The College of Charleston, and Femfessionals I want to share the things I think helped me before I had the work and life experience I have today.
Get Experience First
One of the most important parts of finding an internship is getting your resume noticed. If you haven’t had an internship before you aren’t expected to have work experience but you need some kind of experience.
I knew I wanted to write when I entered college. I wasn’t sure exactly what type of writing so during the first week of school I went to the meeting for my school paper. Not only did I gain writing experience both in news and creative writing, I met one of my best friends in that meeting.
I also volunteered with the television station and activities board at my college. By the time I applied for my first internship I had several writing samples from the school paper and classes, experience planning and promoting events, and a little news reporting experience.
You have to remember that college clubs and activities aren’t just there for fun. They are very valuable in terms of finding internships and even jobs.
Volunteer work is equally important. It’s a way to gain work experience and show you go above and beyond what is required.
Have A Professional One Page Resume
I can not stress the importance of a resume. Your resume should be simple and concise and it shouldn’t be longer than one page. I think it goes without saying that there shouldn’t be errors but I’ll say it anyway… there shouldn’t be errors.
If you haven’t visited the career center at your school I highly suggest you do. You may think you understand what makes a resume great (I sure did) but you have no idea. The people in your career center are trained to help you and they want to help you so take advantage.
Another tip that I don’t think enough people put stock into is making your resume stand out through design. This will show initiative and catch someone’s eye. If you’re in any creative field you can definitely pull this one off.
Don’t Write A Lazy Cover Letter
Do not copy and paste cover letters. I repeat DO NOT COPY AND PASTE COVER LETTERS! It’s lazy and anyone looking at it can tell that’s what you did. Take it from someone who gives internships now. It’s ok to have a template for your cover letter but it should be tailored to the specific internship. I only applied to internships that I felt were a good fit so it was easy for me to get excited and write a great cover letter.
Your cover letter should not be longer than a page. You should include why the internship caught your eye, what skills you have that make you a perfect candidate, and any school related experience you have. Your resume will list your experience and a couple bullet points but the cover letter is where you sell yourself! I’ve gotten called for internships solely based on my cover letter.
Ace The Interview
If you’re a people person and confident in your abilities this might be the easiest part. If you aren’t confident you should fake it until you make it! The interview should be a conversation. It’s not a test.
You should dress in business casual attire I actually had an “interview dress” that I still own today. I never had to worry about what to wear to my interviews which made me way more comfortable..
It’s a good idea to always have a list of questions to ask at the end of an interview. This is where you find out if the company is a good fit for you. Remember the interview is for figuring out if you actually want to intern for a company as well as if they want you as an intern. You need to be comfortable with who you’re reporting to and the culture.
What have you found in your internship search? What questions do you have about finding internships?