So, you need an internship. I know firsthand, how stressful it can be to get an internship that you love and will help you to get your dream job once you graduate college. Whether you need an internship for your academic program in order to graduate, or you just want one for your own personal benefit, internships are an amazing opportunity to experience the work-force. Personally, I am an elementary education major. In my program, I am not required to have an internship because we instead have placements in classrooms and student teaching. However, I wanted to add to my resume in order to get a teaching job in my first-choice school district. The summer after my sophomore year of college, I applied to an internship in the educational programming department for a museum for the fall, which is still going on now in the spring. My goal with this post is to provide you with some tips on how I landed my dream internship and how they can help you do the same!
1) START LOOKING EARLY & BROADEN YOUR SEARCH
If you want to land your dream summer internship, you need to start looking early. I know that might not be what you want to hear, but it’s totally worth it. Most summer internships will have deadlines by the end of March, some even before that. Take advantage of every outlet you have, your school career/internship department, connections from people you know, and of course the Internet. Research nearby companies and organizations and see if they have any opportunities. Also, don’t be afraid to broaden your search a little bit. You may find something of interest to you that relates to your major, even if it’s out of the box or slightly out of your comfort zone.
2) CREATE A STUNNING, TAILORED RESUME
You might be thinking that you already have a resume ready to go from your last job or other opportunity, WRONG. This internship is a new opportunity and demands a fresh resume. It is important to update your qualifications and past work/volunteer experience to highlight why you are the best candidate. Also, use your college education as an advantage, list any super important courses you have taken or certifications you have received through school. Also be sure to attach a personalized cover letter. If you need help customizing a cover letter, try this link!
3) SUBMIT APPLICATION & SEND A PERSONAL EMAIL
How you submit your application depends on the company or organization you are applying to. However, today most will be submitted online through their website or emailed to an internship coordinator. You might think you are done once you have hit that submit button, but I encourage you to take it one step more and send a thank-you email. At this stage in the process, you have not gotten the position, or even an interview, but you want to express your excitement for the opportunity. Do not be overconfident, but let them know you are ready for the challenge! If you need help, follow the template below.
4) DRESS THE PART
If you continue on to get an interview, which you are AWESOME, so I am sure you did, you now have to prove yourself. The interviewer knows what you are like based off of an application, but now they are going to meet you. No matter what position you are applying for, you need to be presentable and dress like you matter. It shows you care about yourself and you care about the job. You do not necessarily need to wear a suit, but I recommend wearing nice, pressed tailored-style pants (absolutely no denim material), a nice blouse (nothing too low or see through), and conservative shoes. If you can rock heels, by all means go for it, but if you’re going to be wobbling, pick something more comfortable. If a blazer makes you feel more sophisticated and polished, go for it. The key here is to exude confidence.
5) MAKE THE INTERVIEW FEEL LIKE A CONVERSATION
In the interview, the first step is to relax. I know you’re probably thinking easier said than done, right? It can be challenging, but I have found the key to this is balancing knowing yourself and how you feel about common interview topics, how you can relate your relevant experience to them, and lastly, how you can use those questions to find out more about the company or organization. If you do this, the interview will start to feel more like a conversation with the other person, instead of the hot seat with a judge staring at you.
6) SHOW YOU ARE DETERMINED AND PASSIONATE
Throughout the entire process, you want to show that you are both determined and passionate. A determined candidate shows they are ready to take on the challenge and are ready to bring their best to benefit the company or organization. Supervisors will not want to take on interns who seem unwilling and a lackadaisical attitude. You also want to show that you are passionate about the company or organization’s mission (make sure you know their mission statement) and how you hope to exemplify that mission. This shows you will show up to work with a positive attitude and that you are both ready to bring your best and learn from others as well.
7) SEND A THANK-YOU EMAIL/LETTER
The day after your interview, make sure you send a personal thank-you to the person who interviewed you. It is perfectly acceptable to send an email thank-you, but if you want to send a thank-you card in the mail, that is also great, and very memorable. (If you are going to physically mail it, I would recommend mailing it the same day as the interview so it gets there as soon as possible). In your note, make sure you thank the person for their time, mention a particular subject you discussed in the interview, and express your excitement to hear back from them. Again, be passionate and determined, but not over-confident. Here is a template for a thank-you note if you want inspiration!
8) FOLLOW UP
Lastly, it is important to follow-up. Hopefully, the interviewer will give you a deadline of when you should hope to hear an answer by. If they do, I recommend writing a polite email inquiring if they had reached a decision the day after the deadline. If they did not rely a deadline, you should email the same inquiry about two weeks after your interview. Doing so, shows your determination, and even if they did not choose you for the position, it is a professional practice, and will help them remember you for future opportunities.
I hope these tips help you out in your internship process! Let me know in the comments any questions you have!