Lauren Pike writes to the student who is trying to land their dream internship.
1. Don’t Wait
All too often today, we, as students, like to push things off. We always say, “It can wait until tomorrow.” Although in many cases, we are wrong, and internships are one place that you certainly should NOT wait. Whether it’s because you think that you are too young or you feel a few more days won’t hurt, pushing internships off is just all-around a bad idea. Once you come to college your entire world changes. You are now surrounded by people just like yourself, who are all also seeking amazing internships and opportunities. Congratulations, these friends are your competition. It seems so simple- trying to get an internship. You would think if you just apply it will come fairly simple. Maybe not the first application, or the second, but surely within the first few you should nail job... right? Well… not always. So, my first piece of advice to anyone looking to have an internship during college is simply- Don’t wait. You are never too young to have an internship or try to gain skills in your chosen career field. The competition for these spots is tough, so start applying as soon as you possibly can. Additionally, I understand life is crazy and tough, but these applications take time. Do not wait until the day before or even the week before to start on an application. You need time to research the company, tailor your resume, write a cover letter, and any other steps the company may ask you to follow. Besides, even if you could do all of that in one day, you still need to take time to be away from the work you have done so that you can come back and look over it, proofread it, and make sure it is just what you want before you submit it.
2. Be persistent
Internships and applications can be unnerving. Application after application. Rejection after rejection. It can take a toll on you. No one said nailing your dream internship would be easy, but does getting any internship really have to be this hard? Being persistent is the key to achieving an internship (or any job for that matter). Apply for as many opportunities as you can, but also be persistent with the companies and positions you are applying for. Once you apply for a position, don’t be afraid to follow up with an email or a call. It sets you apart and gives you a greater chance of being remembered. But, with that being said, many times when students reach out to companies, phone calls get passed around, or a note gets lost, so do not be afraid to call back a time or two. Don’t be afraid to ask what the status of your application is and when you will hear something back. If two months have gone by and you haven’t heard a single thing from a company, it is perfectly fine to reach out and ask about your application! Even if the spots have already been filled, you never know what advice or opportunities might present themselves when you call.
3. Apply for everything no matter how big or small
Everyone wants to get an internship that is their DREAM internship. But sadly, for many students that is not the case. Additionally, some students are so set on a specific one or type of internship that they never even apply to others. My piece of advice is to apply to EVERYTHING. Whether it is a nation-wide internship, you don’t think you have any chance in the world at getting, or a small, local, not so glamorous seeming internship that you know you have “in the bag,” apply to them all. You never know when you are going to need that fallback internship or when you could surprise even yourself and land that amazing dream spot! Apply to everything! It is so much better to have to pick between multiple offers than to have none at all.
Networking is a major factor that can help you to land any job, internship, or opportunity that you are after. Many times, when applying for things like this, if someone at that company can put In a good word for you it can be a major factor in helping you to score that interview. Networking can’t be the only step you take in trying to land a position, but it is definitely one that can help you along the way. Far too often, students do not know what steps to take to begin networking, but never be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. Email representatives within a company, ask questions about their position and speak to EVERYONE you can at career fairs and other networking events. You never know who might have a connection to someone in a company that you are interested in working for.
5. Believe in yourself and BE yourself
Applying for internships can be daunting enough as it is. Interviews, applications. resumes, and cover letters- the list could go on and on. One of the major keys to landing an internship is believing in yourself and being yourself. A company or person can tell when you are faking. No matter how “good” at faking you believe you are, I can promise you your interview will go much better and feel a lot more natural if you be yourself.
Being yourself during an interview also helps the people who are interviewing you to remember who you are. If everyone who walked into an interview all acted the same, the interviewers would have a hard time picking who stood out to them, so never be afraid to answer questions and show your true personality and characteristics while in an interview or on an application.
6. Don’t give up hope
Internships are rough. Rejections are rough. Not hearing from companies is rough. Between hearing stories from other students and trying to achieve an internship yourself, it can be easy to give up hope, but I promise if you keep your hopes up, it will make the process a lot more enjoyable and will help you to do better along the way! I believe in you, and you should believe in yourself!