Internships are a great way to get hands-on experience in your chosen field. Over the course of an internship, you can expect to develop new skills and expand your professional network, among many other benefits. In certain cases, an internship can lead directly into a full-time job. When applying for an internship, it’s important to distinguish yourself as a great candidate. Here’s how to make your internship application stand out.
A Solid Cover Letter
When applying for internships you might notice that certain employers ask for a cover letter, while others do not; however, if you want to stand out, it’s best to include a cover letter either way. The great thing about a cover letter is it can provide potential employers with additional information about your experience and skills, along with more detail about who you are as a person.
A good tactic for writing an effective cover letter is to study the internship job description very carefully. Then, make direct connections between the job description’s requirements, and your skills and experience. For example, if the description states that the employer is looking for a team player, you could include any examples of when you worked with others to complete a major project in your cover letter. For a more in-depth look at internship cover letters, check out our previous blog here.
Clean Up Your Social Media
These days, most employers will take a look at an applicant’s social media profiles to get a better feel for how they’ll fit into the company’s workplace environment, and internships are no different. Before you start applying to any internships, examine your social media profiles, your posts, comments, your interactions with others, and even the pages and profiles you follow.
A good rule of thumb is to avoid hot-button topics such as politics and religion. Similarly, any posts or comments that can be deemed controversial could hurt your candidacy. It would be to your advantage to start following groups and pages that are relevant to your professional interests, as it will show potential employers that you’re motivated to learn and succeed. You can be yourself, but play it safe—if you get the feeling something might be questionable, it probably is.
Tweak Your Resume
You might have very little or no work experience, but that doesn’t mean you can’t craft yourself a nice resume. Similar to how you would put together a cover letter, study each internship job description and make any necessary adjustments to your resume to make sure it closely aligns with the description’s requirements. You might have to get creative in order to do this, but you should be able to leverage your coursework and experiences working on projects effectively.
The best method for applying to multiple internships is to have several different versions of your resume readily available. Keep in mind that these versions may vary from one another only slightly, but borrowing key words from an internship job description and incorporating them into your resume will help get you noticed. If you have part-time job experience that can be related to the internship job description, include that on your resume as well.
After you’ve applied to a bunch of internship programs, you might be thinking that it’s time to put your feet up and chill out, but there’s still more to do! Take note of all the internship programs you applied for, along with the dates of your applications. Next, set reminders for yourself to follow up with the hiring manager at each company.
It’s best to wait about a week from the date of your application before sending a follow up email, with two weeks being the maximum amount of time you should wait. When writing your follow up email, do your best to be professional and take the time to review your email before sending it, ensuring that there are no spelling or grammar mistakes. Here is an example of a follow up email:
Good morning [contact name],
I recently applied for [company name]’s [name of internship program] and I’m just checking in to confirm that my application was received. I am very excited about your internship program and I feel that my knowledge and experience make me a great candidate. If you have any questions about my resume I’d be happy to answer them.
Thank you, and have a great day.
By following up on your application, you’ll show the hiring manager that you’re motivated and eager to start. In certain cases, this could win you a spot in the program, but at the very least it will help speed up the process. Maintaining professionalism throughout the application process is crucial, regardless of the response you get. Remember, you never want to burn bridges, as you never know where you’ll end up down the road.
In most cases, an internship program will require you to have a few references. It’s important to start collecting your references early in the process. A good way to do this is to communicate with your professors about your interest in participating in an internship. Provide details such as the company name, and the name of the program. In certain cases, your professor might already be aware of the program, or they might be able to recommend additional programs.
The best references are people who can speak to your personality, skills, and knowledge. Professors who teach classes in which you’re excelling are great choices. Typically, you want to secure two or three references before you start to apply for any internship programs. If you have a part-time job, you could also ask your boss to be a reference, as they would be able to speak to your work ethic.
Lastly, take the time to review each internship description and apply only to the ones you would most like to participate in, this way you’ll be happy with the outcome no matter which program you get accepted into. With a positive attitude and some extra effort, you’ll be well on your way to a meaningful internship experience.
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