Tips on how to land your dream internship
Landing your dream internship can be challenging and a stressful experience, but it doesn’t have to be that way. With the right tips and a well-tailored cover letter and resume, finding the right internship can be easier than you think.
The Cover Letter
Writing cover letters can be tedious at times and as a result, people look to the internet to search for an already existing template to use. Because of this, the vast majority of cover letters read the same. It’s important to stand out from pack of internship-seekers and develop a uniquely crafted cover letter that sells your professional skills.
- Don’t repeat your resume: Use your cover letter as an opportunity to show your personality, creativity, curiosity and interest in the field.
- Keep it short and to the point: Try not to exceed three paragraphs or half a page.
- Avoid addressing your letter: If you don’t know exactly who the cover letter is going to, avoid “Dear Hiring Manager” or “To Whom It May Concern” and just dive right into the letter.
- Send it as a PDF: This helps avoid formatting issues and allows you to control how your cover letter will appear on other people’s computer screens.
- Never use this phrase: “My name is ___, and I am applying for the position as ____”. Employers and hiring managers already know this.
- Close strong: End your cover letter with 1-2 sentences explaining how your experience will help you at the job.
Cover letters are very important and encourage employers to read your resume, and a good resume is what lands you that first interview. To make it there, your resume has to be simple and no more than a page. The average resume gets read in 10 seconds, so it’s important to be concise all while remembering not to sell yourself short. Also make sure that the content can be easily understood. The person looking at your resume should be able to understand exactly who you’ve worked for, what the company does and your role with the company.
- Try to avoid fancy layouts and fonts: This can make it difficult for employers to read. Be consistent with your font, its size and color and steer away from boldface, italics and underlining.
- Keep it simple: Prepare it on a Word format, not a table or template.
- Reverse chronological order: List your most recent or present job first, then work your way down. Remember to start each accomplishment with a verb. For example, “Developed monthly client and finance reports.”
- Ditch the summary and objectives: Remove the fluff and use the extra space to add additional work experience, accomplishments or skills.
Now that you’re mastered writing your cover letter and resume, the next step is making sure you have a successful interview. Each and every internship interview you participate in will come with its own unique set of requirements, but consider the following interview tips when trying to make the best impression possible:
- Always come with questions, especially when it comes to learning more about what an interview at the company would involve
- Speak in a clear, assertive voice
- Dress professionally and sit with good posture
- If you don’t know the answer to a question, it’s okay to say so – authenticity will take you far
- Bring samples of your work – visuals can be very compelling and indicate that you put real thought into the process
- Be prepared to verbally apply your experience to the tasks you might be faced with as an intern at the company
- Be prepared to answer “big picture” questions about what you envision for your future
Now that you’ve had the chance to wow those who interviewed you, the next big step is to follow up. Never underestimate the power of follow up, as it can be a strong indicator to a company offering an internship that you are really in it to win it and they will likely see this kind of dedication as something that will spill over into the work that you do. It also shows that you could prove to be a great future investment for the company, and who doesn’t want the opportunity to consider a job offer at the end of an internship? Be sure to thank each person individually with whom you interviewed (an email is acceptable) and reiterate your interest in becoming a source of strong support for the company’s endeavors.
At the end of the day, it’s important to approach the internship-seeking process with a real sense of strategy. Carefully think about what kind of internship/company best suits your future goals, and be sure not to pass on an opportunity simply because it does not provide compensation – sometimes those internships provide the most enriching experiences. Happy hunting!