By Advice From a Twenty Something
Lately I've been receiving a lot of emails from readers asking for advice on how to land an internship. As summer's approaching, now is a great time to start looking. With all the competition out there, it can be hard to stand out of the crowd. I recommend following these 5 tips – they will definitely give you a leg up! Plus, they apply to any job search, not just an internship!
1. USE YOUR CONTACTS
You've probably heard it a million times, but that's only because it's true! When looking to land that summer internship during or right out of college, the best thing you can do is use your contacts. It doesn't matter if this contact is professional or personal, just use 'em! Don't say no if your parents have someone to connect you with – take advantage. If you're worried about feeling like your parents got you a job, don't. Here's why: they can only do so much. You're the one who has to convince this contact you're worth hiring and you're the one who has to prove yourself in the interview. So don't be shy, use your contacts!
2. MAKE IT KNOWN
Tell everyone and their mother you're looking for an internship. Even if that person has no relation to your professional life, it can't hurt. Even if it's someone you just met, let them know! No one can help you if they don't know you're looking, so be vocal and make it known.
3. HAVE A GO-TO PARAGRAPH
Have a well-written, go-to paragraph that clearly describes your experience, your strengths, and what you want to do. Beyond just your resume and cover letter, it helps to have a quick few sentences that you can send to potential employers or networking contacts in an email. Not everyone is going to open those attachments and read through your resume and cover letter, so if you can quickly summarize it all in a paragraph for them, it will really help!
4. NETWORK IN PERSON
Setting up phone calls is always helpful, but I find that meeting in person for coffee or lunch is the best way to create a meaningful connection. Ask your friends, family, professors, etc. if they know someone you could speak to who is in the field you're interested in. Just learning and researching what they do is super helpful, and if they meet you and like you, they'll try to connect you with an internship opportunity.
5. BE AGGRESSIVE
Lastly, be aggressive – meaning persistent and persuasive. People are busy and just because they haven't emailed you back doesn't mean they don't want to answer you. Send follow up emails (1 if they haven't responded in a week, and another a week after). After you meet with someone in person or chat with them on the phone, always, always follow up with an email. Yes, hand-written notes are nice, but in this case, they're too slow. Email is fine, I promise. Just be sure to thank them for their time and provide them with any information that could help them help you (your resume, that go-to paragraph, links to positions you're interested in, etc.).