It is that time of year when college students are preparing for the end of another semester and are beginning their searches for either summer jobs or internships. As someone who has gone through both the process of looking for a job as well as the process of looking for an internship, I know how difficult and tedious the search can be. In order to be successful in your search, there are some tips and advice that will come in handy.
Truer words have never been spoken than, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” As the world becomes a smaller and smaller place, it is important to establish relationships and to build networks. Knowing the right people can put you in a more favorable position to get a job or an internship. Sometimes even the best and the brightest need the right people in their corner to make things happen. Begin to network as early as your freshman year. It is never too early to form relationships with the right people because they will only become stronger throughout your college years and hopefully beyond. Go to networking events, career fairs, and job fairs. Even if you are not looking for a job yet, collect some business cards and hold onto them for a later date. Also, have networking cards of your own printed. They can be simple and merely state your name, university, major, telephone number, and email address. You will look more professional handing someone a business card than having to dig around in your pockets for a piece of paper to write down your phone number.
2. Build an impressive résumé
In many instances, a résumé is all an employer will know about you when making the decision whether or not to call you in for an interview. Therefore, it is important that your résumé stand out. Begin to work on it as soon as you enter college. You might have been the editor of your high school paper, the captain of your high school team, and may have done a lot of community service in high school, but college is a fresh new start, and employers want to know what you have done recently in your adult life. Get involved on campus and try to establish leadership positions. Run for student government, play a team sport, organize a major event on campus. These qualities are very impressive to employers.
3. Have a unique selling point
We all have something unique about us, but you have to find a way to turn your unique story into a selling point. If you took a semester off to travel the world and do charity work with underprivileged children, that is a unique selling point. My selling point has been my study abroad experience. I find a way to work it into conversations because it is impressive and not many people can say that they spent four months studying in Europe. Your selling point should be something that makes you stand out above the rest in the employer’s mind. When you walk out of the interview room you want the employer to remember what made you so unique.
4. Cast a wide net
Widen your search to different companies. You might have a select list of firms you want to intern or work for, but the easiest way to face rejection is to be closed-minded. Chances are, if you want to work for that firm, so do thousands of other college applicants in your industry. It is okay to apply to the big name firms, but also have a backup plan. Apply to some smaller firms that might not have the same name recognition as the larger firms. Of course you want to work for a successful firm that everyone knows, but at the end of the day, the goal is also to secure a job. In addition to widening your search to more companies, be willing to open your search to other areas. If you have the ability to relocate, it could be an attractive feature to employers, and it might present more job opportunities for you.
5. Start the search early and stay on top of deadlines
Many internships have deadlines for applications, as well as restrictions in regards to your year in college. It is important that you begin your search for an internship early. At the earliest, begin looking at the end of your sophomore year, and no later than September of your junior year. Many firms begin the recruitment of summer interns during the fall semester, so it is crucial that you are aware of all deadlines and recruitment days. Be aware if the firm makes visits to your campus to recruit or meet with students. It is your responsibility to stay informed.
6. Put yourself out there
Don’t be shy or feel afraid to pound the pavement and knock on some doors. The Internet has made application processes easier, but it has also taken away from the personalization of the process of applying for any position. Therefore, it is important that you put yourself out there and give employers the opportunity to put a face to a name. The last thing you want is to only be a name on an application or a number in a long line of applications waiting to be reviewed. Show employers that you want the job and are willing to work for it by making as many phone calls as possible in order to secure an interview.
7. Prepare for the interview as much as you can
If you are among the lucky ones to secure an interview for the position, be as prepared as possible. Know everything there is to know about the company and position to which you applied. If possible, talk to others who have been in a similar position either with the same firm or a similar company, and find out what you should expect. Have your talking points ready, and be willing to answer a variety of different questions.
8. Stay positive.
It is easy to get discouraged if you receive a lot of rejection letters or do not ever hear back after submitting an application, but it is important to constantly put forth a positive attitude. Perseverance is key, and employers notice it too.
9. Don’t burn any bridges.
There is always the chance that the company that turned you down for an internship could be the company that hires you for a job down the road. Always be gracious, even in the face of rejection because you never know who you might work with in the future.
10. Be confident
Whether you are walking into an interview or calling someone to ask for an interview, it is important that you exude confidence. Show the employer that you know your self worth and that you have everything going for you. In actuality, you might be nervous, sweating underneath your clothes, and feel as if your heart just sunk into your stomach, but you have to be as cool as a cucumber on the surface. Never let them see you sweat.