Applying for internships and jobs isn’t something you learn about at university, so it’s natural that there are a number of things people don’t tell you about the application process that you need to know.
To ensure you land your dream job or internship, these are 15 tips you need to know about applying to internships, from the initial search to post-interview.
1. Start Your Search the Summer Before
Deadlines for applying for internships range from as early as late September to the beginning of April, so it’s crucial that you start your search the summer before you’d like to begin that dream summer internship and see what your options are.
Though it may seem like too far in the future to begin searching, oftentimes not beginning your search early enough can mean you miss out on dream internships, so definitely see what your options are as early as you can.
2. Begin With Your Dream Jobs
Don’t hold yourself back when it comes to applying for internships! When you’re beginning your search, start with your dream jobs and companies you already admire, then see if they have internship opportunities available for students your age.
While you may feel like you don’t have a chance at landing that dream gig, you never know, and confidence is key. Don’t just apply to mediocre internships that won’t make you happy when dream opportunities are out there and possible!
3. Don’t Write a Generic Cover Letter
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when applying for internships is writing a generic cover letter and just filling in the blanks for each internship you apply to. Each cover letter should differ depending on the company and job you’re applying to as well as what they say they’re looking for in an intern.
If you want to land your dream internship for the summer, ditch your generic cover letter and craft one for each internship you apply for. It may seem like a lot of extra work, but it will pay off, and employers will notice the work that you do put in to your application.
4. Alter Your Resume For Each Application
Along with writing specific cover letters for each internship, be sure to alter your resume when applying for internships as well, emphasising on particular skills and experience depending on what the internship would require and what the employer is looking for.
You have different sides of your personality and there different ways to talk about the experience you’ve had, so take advantage of this and be sure you’re illustrating how you’d be the perfect candidate for each specific internship through your resume.
5. Check For Typos
Though it seems like it should go without saying, be sure to check for typos when applying for internships, particularly in your cover letter, resume, and any written responses you give in your application.
One of the biggest flaws in most internship applications is typos, and even a single misspelling can change the way the employer views you as a candidate. Although you may just be wanting to send in your applications and be done with it, take a few extra minutes before submitting to proofread. Your future self will thank you!
6. Search For Opportunities 24/7
Part of the stress of applying for internships is that in order to be successful, you need to make it a priority every day until you finally land one. There are always new opportunities opening up and deadlines approaching, so be sure to check all the sites where you search for internships daily and turn on email notifications for opportunities that interest you. Sites that offer this feature include Indeed, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn, among others.
7. Reach Out To Friends
Your friends are one of your strongest resources in the process of applying for internships because chances are they’re applying as well, and you may be able to help each other out by sharing your connections, AKA by networking. If you want to intern at a law firm and your friend’s mum is a lawyer, approach them and see if there are any opportunities at their office.
Likewise, if your friend had your dream internship last summer and you’d like to do the same, reach out to them and ask how they found the internship, whether they have any application tips, and if they could refer you to their supervisor for next summer.
8. Expand Your Horizons
It goes without saying that the more you expand your horizons in terms of the type of internship you want and its geographical location, the more opportunities you find. However, many students limit themselves just to their hometown and thus struggle with finding an internship that suits them.
When applying for internships, look beyond your hometown or college town and also search for cities where you could find cheap accommodation, know friends in the area, or could commute to, and you’ll definitely begin to find more internships in your desired industry.
9. Networking Is Everything
Quite frankly, there is almost no point in applying for internships if you’re not networking for them as well. There are so many applications every year for the internships you’re applying to, and networking helps you stand out from the crowd and finesse your way to success.
To do this, you can reach out to your school’s alumni on LinkedIn, talk with friends’ parents, or even approach employers at career events on campus. When talking to them, ask them how they got started in the industry or at their current place of work, and let them know what you’re interested in. Be sure to keep that connection and even be blunt by asking if they know of any internship opportunities at their workplace that you could apply for.
10. Meet With Your Careers Centre
The Careers Centre on campus is one of your best resources in applying for internships because they’ve helped hundreds, if not thousands, of students from your school land their dream internship and know the ropes.
Be sure to consult your Careers Centre every step of the way, from the initial search to developing your resume and cover letter, and even to preparing for the interview and later stages of the application process.
11. Show Employers That You Can Do the Work
Nowadays, employers are less looking for their interns or future employees to grow and learn as they go along and instead they’re wanting to hire someone who can already do the work. While this may be difficult if you’ve never had an internship or experience in the industry before, don’t let it get you down!
Even if you don’t have a ton of experience, work to demonstrate through your resume that you can already do the work of the position by emphasising your skills, experience on campus or in other jobs, and how you already do that kind of work in your other activities on campus.
12. Remember Who Their Ideal Applicant Is
When applying for internships, employers will list what the job will entail as well as who their ideal candidate is, which is one of your most important resources in the application process. When you see this, write it down and use it to develop your resume and cover letter for the application.
If they list particular skills they want to see in an applicant, be sure all those skills are included in your resume (assuming you have them), and show them that you are their ideal applicant.
13. Stay Organised With Deadlines
Deadlines are crucial when applying for internships because every job differs in its application process, and you don’t want to miss submitting an application just because you were unprepared.
As soon as you find an opportunity you want to apply for, write down its application deadline in your calendar and set reminders so you stay on top of it. Additionally, make a list of the internships you’ve already applied for so you can follow up if you haven’t heard back.
14. Ask Questions During the Interview
If you make it to the interview stage, first of all, congratulations! In an interview, it’s important to be yourself, talk about your skills and experience, and show that you have a deep knowledge of the company you could be working for.
However, something you should be sure to do in every interview is to ask questions. You want to show the interviewer that you’re engaged in the conversation and wanting to learn more about the opportunity or company, so when they ask at the end if you have any questions, prepare some things that you could ask in advance.
Be sure to avoid any topics that are obvious, like those listed on the website. A great question to ask your interview is what their values are.
15. Send a Thank You Note After Interviews
Finally, after you leave the interview, send a thank you note to the person who interviewed you as soon as you can, either by email or handwritten. In your thank you note, express your gratitude for the employer giving you the opportunity to interview for the position and emphasise how much you would love to work for the company.
This step will set you apart from other applicants that are applying for internships and show the employer how much you want the job.