Today, internships help students transition from college or university to a career. Essentially, interning acts as a bridge that connects your education to your chosen career path. Moreover, most employers now expect graduates to complete an intern program before becoming a full-time employee. Yet, getting into these programs can be challenging. The best employers and programs usually have many applicants, making it almost impossible to score a high-quality internship. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to ensure your application stands out against the rest. Below is a step-by-step guide to help you secure a great internship.
Explore Your Desires and Qualifications
The first step in getting an internship is exploring what you want and what you have to offer. Make a list of your skills and experience, along with your career and personal interests. This will help you narrow down options and focus on internships that fit you. Never apply to every position an employer has to offer, as this demonstrates indecisiveness. Hiring managers and recruiters are quick to dismiss applications submitted for every possible intern position at an organization.
Look for Opportunities
You can’t land an internship if you don’t look for opportunities. At first, however, it can be challenging to know where to look. While you may already have some ideas in mind, there could be other options you’d never consider. A full search should include:
- Your school career resource center
- Classmates, professors, friends, family, current colleagues, and any professional contacts
- Employers you’re interested in working for (via direct contact)
- Recruiters at career fairs
- Career websites or online job boards
If you live off-campus, you may also be able to find opportunities through your apartment community’s message boards. When it comes to student living, Ottawa off-campus residences can present excellent networking opportunities.
Craft an Application
Of course, finding an internship that fits your needs, preferences, and interests isn’t enough on its own. You’ll also need a strong application to make an impact on hiring managers and recruiters. A solid application contains several key components, including a creative cover letter and detailed resume. You should also use this opportunity to review your online presence for appropriateness.
Cover letter: Cover letters introduce potential employers to your skills and ambitions. For many, they’re not only a requirement, but also the cornerstone of a winning application. Recruiters and hiring managers peruse cover letters first to discern if your application is even worthy of a look. So, make sure your letter succinctly summarizes your skills, strengths, experience, and passion. Ensure your cover letter is unique to each opportunity by conducting research on the organization and position and providing unique details that fit.
Resume: The resume is the crux of your application, and is therefore the most important element. It should succinctly outline your education, skills, and experience. Using a template can help you craft a technically sound resume, but make sure yours is dynamic and error-free. Here are some steps to help you make a winning impact:
1) List academic and/or professional accomplishments, as well as awards and volunteer positions. 2) Emphasize skills that match the job requirements.
3) Use the STAR format (situation, task, action, result) when listing work duties.
4) Quantify actions (e.g. handled 25-50 customer inquiries per day).
5) Be concise.
Online and Social Media Presence: Nothing can sink an internship opportunity faster than inappropriate or offensive online posts. You must therefore make sure your online presence is clean and appropriate for a young professional. Create a professional LinkedIn profile and clean up your online presence. Delete offensive or inappropriate content from your social media profiles. If you’re applying for a creative position, consider creating an online portfolio or adding one to your social media profiles.
Prepare for the Interview
Once you’ve submitted your application, don’t forget to prepare for the interview, the final step to securing your internship. Get ready by researching and practicing standard interview questions, conducting research on the position and organization, and choosing appropriate clothing. If you feel you interviewed well, don’t be afraid to follow up with the company, which demonstrates interest and initiative.
Put these tips into action to win the internship that's going to give you a great head start in securing a career.