The Internship Games

Cover letters, resumes, and interviews. These are the three ingredients to get you the internship of your dreams. At least that’s what they say. You also have to factor in networking, being “in the know”, wearing the right outfit to your interview, making sure you have service for a phone interview, having experience in your field (and a lot of it), and blah, blah, blah.

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Yeah, getting your dream internship is not an easy feat. It takes a lot of work, dedication, and determination. So the real question is do you have what it takes to be on top?

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If you do that here’s what you gotta do:

Step 1: Make sure you know exactly what it is you want.

What kind of internship are you looking for? What do you hope to achieve? Does it matter if you get paid (a big one since most internships are unpaid)? Where do you want to work? How will this help you in the future? Will it be worth it? These may seem like a lot of questions but they all factor in and there’s all worth your consideration.

Step 2: Now that you know what you’re looking for start looking.

What many people fail to understand when they first start looking for an internship is application deadlines are usually months before the actual internship will begin. You can’t just decide a month before summer vacation that you want an internship. By then, it’ll be too late. Know what kind of internship you want and start making a list of the internships you want to apply for, their deadlines, and what exactly you’ll need to do to get it.

Step 3: Get what you need.

Your cover letter and resume are a given, always. For your cover letter you can make things a little bit easier for yourself by having a generic cover letter already to go. If you’re applying for internships in the same field what you’re cover letter is going to say isn’t going to change much for each one. Similarly, make sure you have a resume ready to go. Every internship you’re applying for will want to see a resume and it’ll be much easier to give them one if you already have one that you just need to tweak or add to real quick. On average you should be revising or updating your resume at least once or twice a month to make sure it’s always up to date. Also, if you struggle with how to make a resume/cover letter don’t be afraid to get resourceful. Ask your parents who must certainly still have a resume handy. Or go to your school’s career center. There are literally people who’s job it is to help you get a career. Go find them. Outside those main two you may also need some writing samples. The best way to get this is if you already have some published work. However, if you don’t you need to get some ASAP. If you see that a recurring theme in the internships you’re applying for is a writing sample make sure you have some at the ready. These are not things you want to just throw together at the last minute.

Step 4: Proof read, proof read, proof read.

For each of your applications, it doesn’t matter how many times you may have used the same cover letter, resume, or writing samples. Proof read them. Especially your cover letter. You may have forgotten to change Time, Inc. to Hearst Corporation in your last sentence and that’ll get awkward real fast. Also, if you have mistakes in your application it’s going to be real hard to sell yourself as a competent, hard working, dedicated employee. If you don’t care about your own work how can they trust you’ll care about their’s?

Step 5: Have someone else proof read.

I truly cannot emphasize this enough. You want to make sure your documents are on point. This is what will get you your interview and to that next step. Make sure it’s good and that you’re putting your best foot forward from the start.

Step 6: Take a break.

After you’ve submitted a few applications don’t be afraid to take a breather. Just make sure to stay on top of your deadlines and you’ll be fine. You don’t have to submit all your applications in the span of one week. That’s how you’ll burn yourself out. Just do a few then take a breather and make sure you’re still on track with all you’re trying to do.

Step 7: The interview.

Whether it’s on the phone or in person, make sure you know what you’re interviewing for. Believe me, if you’ve done a lot of applications this can get pretty confusing, especially if it’s a phone interview. Always double check before the interview what exactly it is you’re interviewing for. Then do some research on your possible future employer. Know what they do, why you want to work there, and why they should want to hire you. Believe me they will be asking you these questions and it’s always great to say, “I saw your article on . . .” or “I loved how you did this . . .” and then saying, “I actually have some ideas on how we could expand on that” or “If given this opportunity I can provide . . .” Also, always remember to have your elevator pitch. Make them love you in those first 30-seconds. Suck them in. After the interview’s over you want them to remember you.

Step 8: Be patient.

The truth is you will most likely hear some no’s during this process and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean you’re not going to get anything. That’s why you apply to more than one. Just keep working on your applications and going to interviews. You’ll get there. When one door closes another one opens. Always.

All in all, just believe in yourself and don’t give up. You might not get your first choice internship but everyone has to start somewhere. Don’t be afraid to dream big but also don’t be too proud to “aim lower”. Every opportunity is just another experience you can add to your resume. Plus, you never know, that internship you didn’t expect could lead to a job later

Good luck!

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