Brace yourselves! Winter is here in full force, which means that the perfect storm of nose-nipping weather, final exams, and internship application anxiety is in full swing.
While we may not be there to keep you warm or make flashcards with you at 2 a.m., we can help you with that last bit.
We know that applying for internships can feel like spelunking in a dark cave — full of missteps, uncertainties, and the occasional dead end. To illuminate the process, we went straight to the source and asked employers to send us their best intern tips about applying for internship positions.
The tips that we received were honest, insightful, and sometimes surprising. Many of them stressed that personality and enthusiasm are just as important as skills on a resume. To the employers who participated, thank you for contributing your time and knowledge in the name of great internship matches!
And now, without further ado, here are the top thirteen internship tips:
Pay attention to the details — nothing makes me throw away a resume faster than glaring spelling, grammar, or punctuation mistakes. Putting care into how you present yourself shows that you want and deserve to be noticed.
- Sarah Swidron, HealthCare DataSolutions
The first thing we tell our interns is to go buy your FirstNameLastName.com.com/net/etc. Control your reputation online.
- Jay Lohmann, TagTeamCreative
Put 95 percent of your energy into the cover letter for the companies that you really want to work for. A well-written, creative, clearly individualized — and most important of all — FUN cover letter stands out and can even make up for a weak resume. The most critical skill for an intern to have is an indomitable attitude; when that sense of excitement and determination is conveyed in the cover letter, that application leaps to the top of the pile.
If you are applying for a design internship and your resume is a word document in Times New Roman, I won't even consider you
- Zoli Hhonig, Chalkable
I often hear, "I'm the perfect match for your internship." Really? How do you know? It takes time for everyone to figure that out. Few internships will truly speak to your skills/goals/passions, but they're out there. Connect with companies early so you have the time to learn if it's truly "the perfect match." Be curious, get to know the people behind the company, and be more selective than anyone else in the process.
- Anna Lewis, Viget
Best tip for hiring interns — paint the vision of the company and the importance of their part in that vision.
-Vincent Turner, PanWise (@vinaeco)
Keep it real. To stand apart, be entirely authentic in every form of communication with a potential employer. Leave canned resume copy and interview responses to those who aren't interested in a great internship. The best companies seek out people who are honest, emotionally mature, and trustworthy.
- Tom Seery, RealSelf
Stay on task and keep records. Break your internship responsibilities into three main categories (i.e. build relationships internally, create content for website, develop marketing campaign). Daily, write out the activities under each category that need to be done, and give each a time slot. At the end of the day, you have a record of what you've completed, and you can transfer the incomplete items to the next day.
- Philip Witcher, Santander Consumer USA
_When I am looking for an intern, the first thing I look for is whether or not they followed the directions on applying for the position. If I ask for a cover letter and resume and only receive a resume from a candidate, that candidate is automatically disqualified.
It is very important that all communication has correct spelling. If you are sending an introduction email along with your resume, spellcheck it! If you are not sure if your email, resume, and/or cover letter is grammatically correct, ask someone!_
- Brian-Ray McConnell, Gay & Lesbian Elder Housing
A positive attitude can go a long way; just remember, skills can be taught, but an attitude can't!
- Viacom (@viacominterns)
Get the name right of the employer, and follow up with a warm phone call unless specified otherwise. Do your research on the company before the phone call, and talk about the value you want to bring, and what you are excited to learn about.
- Tanya Menendez, Brooklyn Bakery
Be conversational, give your elevator speech in a natural way, and make sure your resume is formatted professionally.
- Big Eye Creative (@bigeyecreative)
Research the company before your interview. Understand what they do, ask about interesting aspects of the business, and let your enthusiasm shine in person. Above all, make sure you are excited about the company, the internship, and the possibilities ahead.
- Rebecca Rodriguez, Parties That Cook
I would recommend looking at any possible internship not as a way to pad a resume, but rather to use the opportunity to expand into something that is possibly on the fringe of where you dream of being in the future. Internships are one of the safest ways to test the riskiest, yet possibly the most rewarding, paths your career could take following graduation. Most people are not in a position ten years down the road to test a path that leads to their dream jobs, so take full advantage and dare to be risky when choosing an internship today.
- Bill Hipsher, USstoragesearch.com
We chose these thirteen internship tips because they do a terrific job of highlighting professionalism, while also framing the importance of finding an internship that both excites and challenges you. If you're invested in what a company does, let that enthusiasm show! It could be the "je ne sais quoi" that puts you ahead of the game.
Now that you've studied up on these internship tips, it's time to put them to work! Start your search and "wow" employers with a flawless resume, an engaging cover letter, and impeccable follow-up etiquette.