During sophomore, junior and senior year of college, the scramble for a quality summer internship gets real. As my junior year at James Madison University progressed, I started to feel the pressure to land that top-notch experience. Anxious and competitive, I nearly drove myself crazy trying to reach this goal. But through the process, I discovered three ways to successfully land an internship.
For me, that dream internship was working at Snagajob as a copywriter. And guess what? I got it!
Focus on what you really want
I found that focusing on my strengths and passions was the first step in acquiring the internship I wanted. Narrow down your search when looking for an internship – it will allow you to apply with more purpose. Applying for positions I just wasn't qualified for wasted both my time and the employers. If you have no experience or interest in engineering, don't apply to be an engineer. Prior to learning this lesson, I went partway through an interview process for a sales position before realizing that I don't like sales and honestly I'm not that good at it. Instead of tossing your resumes in the air and letting them rain, select key internships that are related to what you're good at and then pursue them relentlessly.
Sell yourself, not your resume
Your resume is very important. However, at the end of the day it's just a piece of paper. When applying and interviewing for internships, remember that companies hire people – not paper. So even if you have the most impressive resume, you still need to sell yourself.
Here's 3 tips for a persuasive pitch:
- Start with your full name, school and major
- Highlight your skills and future goals
- Speak confidently and with conviction
Practice your elevator pitch over and over. Keep in mind that employers want to hire people who set goals for themselves and are passionate about improving the company.
Go above and beyond in the interview
After participating in several individual and group interviews, I quickly learned a few unconventional ways to go above and beyond during the process.
Do your homework
Research everything there is to know about the company before the job interview. Before interviewing with Snagajob, I read their vision statement, mission statement and countless press releases. I even memorized their timeline of achievements. Become familiar with the company's goals, work culture and products. Coming into the interview with prior knowledge will display determination and prepare you for the questions they might ask about the company.
Express a desire to learn. When you join a company as an intern, you most likely won't walk in with a degree or real-life experience. Don't pretend that you know more than the current employees. Be humble in the interview and display a huge interest in learning.
Go out with a bang
I left the interview with Snagajob asking myself, "How can I make myself stand out from the other candidates?" I decided to follow up with not just a thank you email, but a sample piece of writing that I crafted specifically for Snagajob. It combined the Preamble of the Constitution with Snagajob's vision:
We The People of Snagajob, in Order to form a more perfect Union of Employers and Workers, establish Connections, ensure a quick and easy Process, provide Vocations that match Skill Sets, promote loving Work, and secure the Success of both Parties, do ordain and establish this Purpose Statement for the United States of America.
Don't be afraid to put yourself out there. After the interview, follow up in a way that makes you stand out from the crowd. Show that you really want this internship and that you are willing to go the extra mile for it.
If you're still searching for that internship experience, stress no more. Focus on what you're good at, sell yourself convincingly and take your interview game to the next level. You never know if your dream internship is right around the corner.