Most college students would agree: getting that one amazing internship will change your life. And many would continue to agree that trying to get that internship will be nearly impossible. Every day we are told that the world, specifically the business world, is getting more and more competitive. We need to think smarter, act faster, learn more, and most importantly, be more.
Trust me, I see this everyday. I go to a prestigious private business university in Massachusetts. They do not offer liberal studies degrees; instead, we are put into a bubble and learn to live and breathe business. At my school, we are shaped to be the future corporate leaders of America. There, I am an Accounting Major with a concentration in Ethics and Social Responsibility. Mouth full right?
Nevertheless I began to realize that reaching my end goal, where I had always pictured my life to end up, was going to be a lot harder than I thought. As only a sophomore going to be a junior, I began to search for an internship. I wanted to be one step ahead of the game. Usually only juniors search for summer internships going into their senior years, because it’s usually believed that through that internship a job will be offered with them for full time post graduation.
A few months ago, I landed the offer of a life time. A direct accounting internship with the Executive Internal Controller of one of the biggest corporations in the world. Oh yes. I had an internship before I was even offered this one lined up. But it was not nearly as amazing as this one. Nevertheless, the point is, this past spring I really learned a few things after landing two great offers.
Since I’ve already rambled enough about myself, I’ll save the details for another article and continue with how to achieve that internship you’ve always dreamt of. These are general concepts, but step by step in the stages of gaining that internship. These worked for me, and they will certainly work for you.
1. Start Looking Early. I know this sounds ambitious, and sometimes even pointless. I started looking in January when posting for internships really start up around March. However, you never know what you’re going to find. And you don’t want to miss out on something if someone grabs it before you. Plus it looks good if you apply to something much earlier than the due date.
2. Send your Resume Out. A lot. Some people may disagree with me on this, but I have realized the power of sending your resume out. Do not hold back. If you are interested, send it out. Take the time and make your resume strong. It should be extensive and look professional. If you really want, invest in it a little and pay for a resume-editor. Resumes are tricky because it’s hard to stand out on a piece of paper. However, with enough work, it is possible. I know that when my boss offered me this internship for the summer, he said that was impressed with my resume and made him look at it twice. When people are going through potential candidates to hire, they usually spend less than a minute looking at resumes. So send it out, what’s the worst that can happen. You may not stand out at one person, but you might stand out at the next. And if you don’t stand out, there’s no harm done. They’ll probably just throw your resume in a pile with the others and forget all about you. As cynical as that sounds, that’s a good thing. In the business world, it’s always good to have a fresh clean slate.
3. Show Interest. Showing interest is absolutely crucial. Companies can tell who’s into them and who’s not. If you are passionate about where you want to work, tell them why. They want to hear this. They want to hire people that want to work for them. These are the people that will want to work hard and want to do well. Also there is a level of comfort for HR. Human Resources hates offering jobs out to people that reject them. So take the time, and submit a cover letter no matter where you are apply. Cover letters are usually looked at after the resume. If the resume was enough to grab their attention, the cover letter gives them the chance to learn a little more about you. There are plenty of guides on how to write a cover letter plastered around the internet, so make sure to read up on them. And most of all, in the cover letter, tell them why you want the job and why you should get it.
4. Nail the Interview. Interviews have never particularly been a struggle of mine. I have a very big personality, and have no problem striking up conversations with people I hardly know. My older sister is a publicist; pretty much paid to socialize, and she has given me a few tricks over the years. For those that get nervous and stumble, here are a few tricks. Eye contact. People love it. It shows your engaged yet confident in yourself. Think before you speak. It is okay to take a minute to pause and think before responding to a question in an interview. In fact, it is encouraged. Know what you are talking about. If you try to lie, you’ll probably sound like an idiot and not the type of person they want to hire. Trust me, I’ve tried to BS my way through a few topics and didn’t get the job because of it. Talk a lot, be bright and bold, have personality! Be serious, but know where you can crack a joke. Blow them away. If they enjoy talking to you, they’re more likely to believe they will enjoy working with you. And of course, if the interview is in person, dress up and look sharp.
5. Follow Up. Once again, I cannot stress how crucial this is. There have been times where I have forgotten to follow up and email the person that interviewed me. Those times I was not offered the job. Now, I’m not saying this is scientific but the times that I did follow up, I was most likely offered the job. By emailing, you are able to show your interest, your gratitude, and leave an even more lasting impression. Keep the email short and sweet. Say thanks for the taking the time to talk to me, I really enjoyed our conversation, blah blah blah. I really believe it makes a difference.
I wish you all good luck and I hope that this article has proven helpful for you!
Happy Internship Hunting!