Whether you’re in high school or college, building experience through a summer internship can give you the competitive edge you need when applying for college, graduate school or a future employer. It’s never too early to start preparing for next summer, so read on for rock-solid tips on securing a stellar internship that will give your résumé a boost!
#1. Know your goals.
Establishing your goals, both long and short-term, not only will help you achieve a more rewarding experience for yourself, but will also make your application appear more prepared. For competitive internships, most companies seek applicants who are self-motivated and passionate about their field, and will use the experience to build connections and gain valuable skills.
#2. Do your research.
After determining the field of interest that you’d like to explore, do your research on companies that would be a potentially good fit for you. While there are companies accustomed to hiring interns on a regular basis, there are also many others that may currently not offer internship positions. Don’t be discouraged if you are turned away, but do attach a résumé and cover letter highlighting your skills and outlining your reasons for wanting to work with the company. It never hurts to ask; even if the company doesn’t hire interns, they may be a helpful resource for leading you to other contacts.
#3. Highlight your skills.
Are you proficient at Word, Excel and PowerPoint? Do you have social media skills in Facebook and Twitter? Did you excel in your typing or public speaking class? Do you speak other languages? Assess all of the skills that might make you a valuable addition to the company’s team. Sure, you’re there to learn, but strong candidates are able to give back as well. If you feel like there are areas where your skills could be stronger, use this summer and upcoming year to gain the skills to make you a more competitive applicant.
#4. Plan ahead.
Many internship openings fill up 6-12 months in advance. The early bird definitely gets the worm here! Use your time this summer so start doing your research on where you’d like to be next summer, and contact those organizations before your semester starts in the fall. Even if they respond by saying that they’re not hiring just yet, you’ll be on their radar and will get bonus points in their mind for being a go-getter.
#5. Show enthusiasm and commitment.
How does a company choose between two applicants who look nearly identical on paper? Enthusiasm and commitment are essential components to any application process. Be prompt with returning emails and phone calls, and always turn in ALL of the requested materials when applying for a job. If you need more time to gather items that have been requested from the employer, let them know immediately and tell them when you will be able to turn it in. Once you’ve set your deadline, stick with it. Delays in communication send a red flag to the employer, who may then feel concern that you may not be able to meet deadlines when given actual assignments.
But wait! There’s more…
Remember that once you’ve landed the job, don’t lose sight of your goal. Employers want to work with motivated and responsible interns that show a commitment to their assignments and to the team. By finding ways to offer your skills and ideas to go beyond the minimum requirements of the job, you’ll impress your employer and those around you. A happy employer means a nice letter of recommendation, more potential for valuable connections, and possibly even a future job with the company. So get out there and make every moment count!