4 Tips on Getting Your First Internship
The right internship can turn into straight gold for any college student. The best ones will have you more than just running for coffee. They’ll help you to learn and gain experience in a field that you are passionate about, while also making the right connections with contacts to get you an in when your graduation comes around.
Although the process of picking out and applying for internships can seem a bit daunting, fear not. The right tactics will have you taking on the task of your ideal position and on a start to your dream job.
If scoring the perfect internship is your goal semester, consider these tips:
Do Your Research
Think about your application for the internships you want as the ultimate comprehensive final exam. You wouldn’t spend 20 minutes skimming your notes just before your final and expect to walk out with an A grade, so don’t expect a similar strategy to work here. Before you write your cover letter and definitely before you ever walk into an interview, try to find out as much as you can about the company you want to intern for.
Look into the company, the history behind it and the product that it is working to sell. Have a firm understanding of its target audience as well as its competitors and industry. The students who get picked up as interns are the ones who have a solid understanding of what a business does and what their role would be. Walk into your internship interview with an opinion about the direction of the company and a practical vision of what you want out of your role. Remember, the company you’re applying to already knows its mission statement and that you probably “love” its product. So, instead of going on and on about how their company changed your life, tell them how their values and missions align with yours.
Use the Product or Service
Having to wing a part of your interview or application isn’t ideal, but it will happen to you inevitably— and it’s okay. Being able to think on your feet will be crucial to the positions you obtain in the future and if you can demonstrate this ability in an interview than even better. Still, there are certain things that shouldn’t be put off on the fly when applying for an internship. Number one being a business’s product or service. Being unfamiliar with a brand’s product, website or overall shtick will undoubtedly because for an awkward situation when you get to the interview phase of your application. Not only will interviewer's be able to quickly glean from your answers that you know nothing about their product, but they’ll also be able to tell from your social pages. If you’ve yet to “like” or “follow” the businesses you’re applying to, consider grabbing your phone and doing that now. Showing that you are engaged with these brands on social will help internship hires to see that you truly are as passionate about their brand as you say you are.
Be Aware of The Big Picture
As you go through the process of researching the brand you want to intern for, start to figure out where your goals and values fit in with theirs. Start by drafting up a list that compares the mission of a brand to your own objectives. Consider your end goals and the ideas that you have created to help you get there. Figure out how these efforts might align with the expectations of the internship position and then assert these notions in your cover letter.
In your cover letter, be sure to include a breakdown of your accomplishments and how they can help you contribute to a company’s big picture goal. Demonstrate which qualities of yours go together with the ones the brand desires from its interns. For your interview be prepared to answer questions that will dig into how you as an individual stand out from the rest of the applicant pool.
Apply All Over
Be safe and apply for at least 20 internships. While you might already have the perfect internship in mind, you’ll never know what opportunities might come your way in the form of an overlooked intern spot. Search for listings on company websites or hunt for openings on databases such as InternMatch or InternQueen. Don’t leave out your university’s career center as a resource either. While you’ll want to spray the internship application field with as many of your cover letter as possible, be sure that you remain personal in all the cover letters that you send.