We have all been told that internships are an important part of our educational experience. They are a sort of rite of passage between student life and working life that can look great on a resume, but also provide incredible experiences and can be an important tool in figuring out what you want to do in the future. However, while internships can provide great means to establish connections, find mentors and collect skills in your field, they are not easily come by.
Finding the perfect internship can be stressful and confusing, but it is so important to find an internship that fits your personality, goals, educational interests and schedule. Make sure you consider your interests, qualifications and availability when looking for internships and consider some of these other tips as well:
- Have an appropriate resume: you will not get any internship if you have a bad resume. Bad can mean several things: it is unprofessional, you have spelling errors, it looks like a child wrote it, it has the wrong information and so on. It is worth spending hours to make your resume acceptable to send to companies and businesses; your resume is the first thing a hiring manager will see and it will be all they have to make an initial judgment on (and that initial judgment is the difference between getting an email or interview and getting your resume thrown in the trash). People judge the person by the resume. Be very, very careful. That being said, here are some resources for creating a good resume:
- Most colleges have a writing center or online resources to help students create resumes. They can help you sort through relevant information, format and edit your resume.
- Use basic, simple, and easy to read texts. Don’t use fancy texts because they are “pretty” or “cute.” Just, no.
- Also, don’t go color happy. It’s not professional. It doesn’t give off the right vibe. It makes your resume stand out for all of the wrong reasons.
- That being said, you want your resume to stand out for the right reasons. Make it look nice. Make sure it is appealing to the eyes. Make sure it flows and looks good on paper and is easy to read and follow.
- Be sure the information is right/relevant/important. Your resume should have your education (college and high school while you’re still in college, you don’t need you high school information if you’re graduated from college). Put relevant experience; clubs, groups, sports, extracurriculars.
- Only include high school information if you are a freshman or sophomore in high school. After that, drop it and stick to more recent, relevant information. This includes jobs and awards.
- Use action words. Stick with action-oriented words to describe your experiences and in job descriptions.
- There is so much important information for writing resumes. If you’re making your resume all on your own, be sure to refer to various sources to find all the information about fonts, colors, information etc.
- Some sources I like include this and this
- Cover Letters: I hate cover letters. I hate cover letters. I really, really hate cover letters. In most cases I use the body of an email (with my resume attached) as a pseudo cover letter. My advice with cover letters is to have all of the important information, but be brief. People want to read a cover letter to know a little about you and why you’re interested, but they don’t want to be overbearing and boring (snoooooozeeeeee). There are several important pieces to a cover letter:
- Your name, school, major, what you’re looking for etc: Basic important information about yourself and what you are looking for. What time frame are you looking for a job during? How much time are you willing to dedicate? All of that good stuff.
- Where you found the job posting: there are a couple of aspects to this. Did you find it on a website? Say so. Are you just reaching out to a company to see if they have any positions? Say that. Just acknowledge where you are coming from.
- What skills do you think you could bring? What relevant skills do you have? Read the posting specifically, are there any qualifications they specifically asked for that you should acknowledge? If so, do it.
- Why are you interested? This is beyond “I need something to put on my resume.” Never, ever, ever write that. You should be interested because you want to gain skills and expand your education and learn from others and all of that jazz.
- I always end my letters with something along the lines of “I look forward to hearing you soon.” Make it obvious that you are waiting for a response.
- SAY THANK YOU: dear goodness, say thank you. Be polite. Thank them for their time and consideration. Have manners, people.
- Give your contact information: email, linkedin, phone number etc.
- Attach your resume (if in email): so many times I have been so close to sending a cover letter without a resume attached….so, so close.
- Find somewhere to actually apply: by now you’re probably thinking “wow Kristin, this is great, but where the heck to I even find somewhere to apply?!?!” Fear not, young grasshopper. There are several places/ways to find internships to apply to.
- Does your school have career services/websites/listservs? Get on that. A lot of times those postings are from people who are looking for students specifically from your school (because it rocks and you rock for going there) or from a specific major. Look out for that information and use those resources while you have them.
- Internships.com: put in location, major, time period and any other relevant information. The site will produce lists and you can input more search options. Click on the listings and see if you qualify and you can send your resume and cover letter straight from the site.
- Internmatch.com: *****same as above
- Other websites such as craigslist and monster can be places to look as well.
- Look into specific companies/places you are interested in working: if there are specific places you are interested in working for OR you just think it may be a good place to reach out, go ahead and send an email with your resume and cover letter. I have two internships this summer and I found both by sending emails out of the blue. It works people (cough especially if you’re willing to be unpaid cough…more on that later).
- Use who you know: your aunts, uncles, parent’s friends, neighbor, the mom you used to babysit for. Use the connections that you have. Reach out to people and test the waters. Don’t hesitate to ask people for help if you think they have applicable information. But be smart, don’t ask someone who isn’t reliable or hates you or anything like that.
- You honestly really need to be willing to work for free: it is really hard to find paid internships, but so many companies are willing to provide incredible opportunities for students who can work for free. Yeah, getting paid would be nice, but the experience is worth more than a minimum wage paycheck.
- Always send a follow up email after an interview: Once you have your kick-ass resume, send a fabulous cover-letter, land that coveted interview and rock that as well, make sure you send a follow-up email to the people you interviewed with. Thank them for their time and information and express how interested you are in the job. This is lesson #1 I learned from my dad when applying for jobs and it definitely puts you ahead of any other candidates (and reminds them about you even after you’re gone).
Finding an internship can be crazy, hectic and (lets be honest) kind of scary, but so totally worth it when you score an amazing internship and get to spend your summer or semester learning crazy cool things about jobs you wish you had for real.
The opportunities are endless, go out and find them.