Impressive internships increase your resume’s potential tenfold. But not all internships are equal. If you land a position at the New York Times as an aspiring journalist, your future career is off to a good start. A small-time local Chronicle gig won’t improve your job options as dramatically, but it is still better than zero experience. So today we’ll cover the cunning tricks you can use to get ahead of the competition in the internship hunt, starting from understanding what employers seek.
Get Into The HR Manager’s Head
Before you give up on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity because you feel inexperienced or underqualified, pause and get a better understanding of what employers seek in their interns. HR managers pay close attention to five factors, in order of importance:
- Interview performance. Do your best during a face-to-face meeting, and other factors may get overlooked.
- Relevant experience. It doesn’t have to be professional experience, extracurricular activities and college clubs are often enough.
- A strong resume and cover letter. It’s your first chance to make a lasting impression, so don’t blow it with typos, ramblings, and cliches.
- Academic performance. Good grades show your dedication, time-management skills and hint at your knowledge base.
- References. A positive experience by your professors or previous employers can convince HR managers you are the right person for the job.
As the interview is critical to getting an internship position, learn which candidates are more likely to get an offer. Employers seek people who:
- Follow the news, blog, tweet, and research the industry before applying for an internship.
- Know and love the company they are applying to and could lead the corporate fan club.
- Generate creative ideas on the fly and can “wow” the HR manager with their enthusiasm.
- Admit they don’t know everything but are ready to learn and evolve within the company.
- Survive fast-paced changes and emerge better and smarter on the other side.
Some traits raise a lot of red flags for employers. If you need an internship, DO NOT:
- Show up late to an interview.
- Check the time on your phone like you have better places to be.
- Be cynical, and condescending, like this internship is not your first choice.
- Answer phone calls or text messages during an interview.
- Argue every point trying to show you know everything.
- Focus your questions on salary, bonuses and other benefits.
Now you know what employers seek in internship applicants, and what factors influence their choice. Still, applying for an internship position should start long before you enter the interview room.
Conquer Social Media
Social media has long since turned from entertainment-only platforms into powerful networking tools. Most HR managers will look at your social profiles before the interview, so you need to get ahead of the game.
Google all combinations of your first and last name to ensure there are only positive mentions of your name, like college clubs membership and your professional Facebook account. Remember that your namesake can ruin your reputation, so you should be aware of all negative references to your name. Be ready to explain all negative facts your potential employer will discover after a quick search.
Keep Your Accounts Active
You can’t set up LinkedIn and Facebook accounts and then forget all about them if you want to make a lasting impression. Turn updating your professional social media accounts into a routine that will pay off once you land an internship of your dreams. An abandoned Facebook or Twitter account will be a major red flag if you are applying for a marketing or sales position.
Manage Privacy Settings
Safe Bet Internships
Before you Google “internship in ...” and find yourself at a scam site that is offering internship application help for a fee, discover the options you have overlooked. On-campus internships provide the same benefits as corporate positions but have fewer requirements. Therefore, you have more chances of getting an exciting internship opportunity.
First, talk to your favorite professors. If they don’t offer an opportunity straight up, they will point you in the right direction. These positions do not always come with a stipend but provide plenty chances to get extra credit and expand your knowledge in your major. Postgraduates and teacher assistants can also share their workload for a fee.
Check out your department website for open internship positions. Most departments are eager to get students to perform menial and tedious tasks. You don’t have to limit your options to your department though it makes the most sense.
See if the university’s other departments hire interns. This option works for old and rich universities that support libraries, hospitals, schools and independent companies. They will be more likely to offer you a position if you come with references from your academic advisors.
Don’t expect to get the first internship position you apply for; many students are vying for employers’ attention. Still, do not spread yourself thin sending out hundreds of applications. Instead, think about your perfect internship and choose ten options that are closest to the ideal. Use our tips to improve your chances and add one or two sure possibilities to your list, just in case. This strategy will land you a solid position to broaden your skill set, deepen your expertise and give you a head start in a couple of years, once you go looking for a paying job.
And if you need help to straighten out your resume, CV or cover letter, our writers are just one click away, ready to assist!