Internships are a great way for you to gain essential job skills and network ahead of graduation. The process of landing your first internship can be exhausting and never-ending.
Nonetheless, there are many ways you can increase your chances of landing your dream summer internship. Here’s how to land an internship from a college student’s perspective.
Craft a Resume They Won’t Forget
Your resume is the first thing companies look at before contacting you. So take this opportunity and brag a bit. Be sure to include your most recent work experience, accomplishments, skills, GPA, etc.
No matter how many times you revise your resume, ask someone to review it as well. As the saying goes, four eyes see more than two. Most schools offer resume building workshops, and some staff will work with you one-on-one to polish it up. If you don’t know who to go to, consider your academic advisor.
My advisor helped me land two internships with major companies when I was just a sophomore.
I guess what I’m trying to say is: Don’t hesitate to ask for help. Initially, I didn’t feel comfortable with having someone reading and editing my resume, but it totally paid off!
Create or Update your Linkedin Profile
It may be hard to believe, but your online presence might help you land your next summer internship. Many companies have recruiters that search for potential employees online, especially on LinkedIn.
Treat your profile like your digital resume. Include every bit of information on your resume to enhance your chances of catching a recruiter’s eye. Increase your chances by creating a profile here.
Customize your cover letter
If companies ask for a cover letter, provide one. A cover letter will only add more value to what you have to offer and give you another opportunity to showcase your accomplishments. Similar to your resume, send your cover to your academic advisor. In the meantime, look for cover letter examples for ideas.
If companies ask for additional supplements such as a portfolio, be sure to include one as well.
Applying for jobs
Meet the qualifications
Aside from everything, this tip will save you time and possibly some headaches. I know what it’s like to get excited about an amazing job opportunity up until you read their qualification requirements.
Companies might be looking for a particular major, school year, work timeframe, and so on. Make sure you read through the qualifications, and if you meet all the requirements, then proceed to apply. If you don’t meet the requirements, keep looking. Don’t lose hope! There are other amazing opportunities out there.
Meet the deadline
Most – if not all – internship opportunities have an application deadline. Write down each of the deadlines, even consider adding it to your calendar if that will help you remember.
Missing the deadline will most likely result in you missing out on job opportunities. To prevent this, consider applying way ahead of time. For instance, if the application is due on January 31st, submit your application at least two weeks in advance.
You got an interview! What’s next?
Congrats on getting an interview! This means you have what it takes to get the job potentially. Interviews can be very intimidating and nerve-wracking, and that’s okay. We’ve all had that same, nervous anticipation our first internship interview ever. So, don’t feel bad about it.
One way to make that nervous feeling a little less intense is to come to your interview prepared. Practice mock interviews with your roommate or a previous intern. Any chance you get to brush up on your interview skills will boost your confidence for the day of.
Google typical interview questions and write down your answers to them. Then, practice saying them aloud with your friend in a way that is natural to who you are and how you speak.
Having the answers to potential questions in the back of your mind can be a huge help going into an interview. Even if the questions don’t get asked, you have an arsenal of information to pull from in your mind.
Do your research
Before the interview, research the company. Write down interesting facts. Here are some things to look for as you’re reading up:
- Company’s strategy
- Team culture
- Their products
- Core Values
- Executive Team (Especially the CEO or person you’re interviewing with)
Commenting on something related to that particular company might earn you some brownie points. Employers will remember your excitement and interest when it’s time to decide.
Getting ready for the big day
Get a goodnight’s sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the human body performs best when it’s well-rested. Before you go to bed, participate in something that helps you relax. This can simply be lying on your bed while watching Netflix, reading, or doing yoga.
The morning of…
You might feel a bit overwhelmed and on edge. If that’s the case, try something similar to the night before.
As a busy college student, I often think that adding more to my plate will only increase my stress level. At least that’s how I felt about working out and meditating the morning of my interview.
I’ll confess I felt great and ready to start my day when I put everything aside and just focused on an exciting day ahead of me. My coping mechanism is not for everyone — so if you just need to stand in front of the mirror and say to yourself, “I got this,” go for it.
I want you to be on your “A” game, so you’re welcome to try anything that helps you reduce some stress.
Dress your best
Adding to the “First impression counts” ideology, dress accordingly. Although you should dress your best, don’t make yourself uncomfortable. You want to look comfortable in your own skin. Interview day is not the time to step too far outside of your comfort zone.
You can always ask the person who set up your interview what the dress code is in the office. But, if you want to handle it yourself, go for a professional style with a touch of your own personality. Remember, you’re showcasing yourself, and employers want to get to know the real you.
What better way to make the best first impression than by arriving on time? If where your interview is taking place is a bit far from you, estimate your travel time with at least 15 minutes to spare. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Employers don’t take tardiness lightly, especially if you’re late for the first interview. Set alarms and reminders, and you should be fine. Some professionals even suggest doing a test drive a few days before to see how long it will take you to get there.
Be you and let your enthusiasm shine
Don’t be afraid to show how excited you are for this opportunity. When asked a question, don’t rush it. You can take a few seconds to think the question through before answering. Don’t forget to smile!
Always ask questions when prompted during an interview. It’s the best way to showcase your excitement about the role and cement the fact that you did your research. A Google search will show you some great examples of questions to ask. But something as simple as “How would you describe the culture here?,” “How would you describe your management style?” or “What is your favorite thing about working for this company?” are great places to start.
Come prepared with at least three or four questions, and plan to ask at least two of them. Of course, if more questions pop up during the interview, don’t be afraid to ask those as well.
Follow-up with a Thank You note
Everyone likes a thank you, and employers love it when interviewees send a follow-up thank-you note. After your interview, send a note to each person that you interviewed with. If you don’t have their emails, forward them along with your thank you to your initial point of contact, and ask them to send the notes along.
Some things to touch on in your thank you note:
- What excites you most about the opportunity
- Something about your conversation with them you found insightful or interesting
- Thank them for their time
Keep it short and sweet, and make sure to send it within 48 hours of your interview.
Essentially, landing an internship doesn’t need to be super stressful. Remember that regardless of how draining this process may be, your first summer internship will make it all worth it. I wish you the best of luck, you got this!