You’ve heard people say it before. Internships will help you kick-start the career of your dreams. But how do you land the internship that gets you to that career? Applying to a strong internship program isn’t as simple as applying to a job. Before you start the application process, it is important that you prepare so that you can stand out from the competition. Below are a few ways to prepare.
Sometimes referred to as C.V. (Curriculum Vitae, which can be loosely translated from Latin as [the] course of [my] life), the Resume is one of the most important parts of the job application process. Regardless of what job you apply to, you will need to develop a resume that attracts the eyes of a company or organization’s hiring staff so that you stand out from other applicants.
If you haven’t created a resume yet, now is the time. Your resumes will always be in transition throughout your professional career. Early on in your professional development, your resume will focus on education more than job experience. However, employers can sense fluff. Don’t over embellish or lie about something that you’ll be asked to do the day you start the job - especially if it’s something that you won’t be able to learn overnight.
If you’re attending a college or university, chances are your school may have a Career Services center where you can check out samples of resumes. If not, ask friends and family members to see their resumes. Find a resume that looks impressive and use that format. Focus on resumes that were created by people already working in your field. Throughout your career, you will find yourself constantly updating your resume so don’t expect your resume to be your final draft. And, don’t forget to spell and grammar check your resume before sending it out.
Grades are important. Most internship programs prefer candidates with at least a 3.0 average. A GPA below 3.0 shouldn’t be a deterrent to you. Rather, it should motivate you to get your grades up so that you can better compete. If you don’t have a 3.0, you may want to consider leaving your GPA off of your resume. Just know that the interviewer may ask about it. Just make sure you either wow them with your experiences or personal accomplishments.
Most jobs will require two or three references. If you’re in high school, these references may be a teacher or guidance counselor. However, if you’ve already had a job, you’ll want to get in contact with your previous managers so that they can serve as a work reference. There’s a fifty-fifty chance that a potential employer will contact your listed reference so be sure prep your references in advance. Let them know what kinds of topics you’ll be speaking about in your interview or even what jobs you are seeking.
The interview is just as important as a strong resume. Consider the resume your way of getting past the initial screening process and the interview as your means of landing the job. One of the best ways to prepare for an interview is to go on mock interviews. Find a professional and ask them to conduct a mock interview. Most interviews focus on your practical experience. Interviewers will be interested to hear about how well you work on a team, how you deal with adversity and leadership.
Many interviewers will ask you to describe actual situations so practicing your responses will help you to respond better on the day of the interview.
Think about what your goals are because your interviewer will want to know. Why did you select this internship? Not only do companies want to know about you, they want to know that you are interested in working for them. So ask questions, but also show that you did your research on the company. Be sure to visit the company or organization’s website prior to the interview.
Know your five and ten year goals. Sure, they may change over time. But go into your interview having an idea of where you see yourself in the future. This small thing will show your interviewer that you’re a good planner. Explain to your interviewer that you see this particular job as a key ingredient in building your foundation; make it clear that the job will help you achieve those five and ten year goals.
Wardrobe can make or break you. Your interviewer will notice you the moment you walk into the room. For men, consider going into an interview clean-shaven. Facial hair often comes with the stigma that you have something to hide. Appearances do matter so make sure you have a suit that fits you well. There are several stores, such as Macy’s, which offer discounted suits as well as basic tailoring and alterations. You can go to a dry cleaner too.
Beware of perfumes or colognes that are too strong. If your interviewer remembered your odor more than you, you probably didn’t leave a great impression.
These days, social media plays a big role in your personal profile. Several public service jobs, non-profit organizations and corporations may screen your social media profiles. Avoid obscenities and hazardous comments or pictures. Be sure you’ve setup your voice mail to have a professional message. Make sure your email address looks professional, use a combination of your name and initials with numbers if necessary. Leave your old crazyzombiekilla666 address for personal use.
If this is your first job, you may not have a lot of work experience. You still need to show a full picture of who you are. Consider doing volunteer work at your local charity to build up those credentials. Also, research programs with professors, independent study, extracurricular activities or scholastic competitions and relevant awards. Your interviewer wants to see that you’re committed to activities across multiple years and that you’ve shown leadership.
There are internship positions being posted each day. Start the process and review postings each day in the category that you are interested in. Have your resume ready and Apply to all positions that are interesting. Not every employer will respond to you, don't get discouraged. It is a numbers game. The more you apply the better your chances. Persistence is key!