If you are a sophomore or a junior in need of an internship – either for a class credit or as a résumé booster – you are probably experiencing a lot of anxiety right about now.
It is application season! It’s the time to write dozens of cover letters, constantly adjust your résumé and build a brilliant portfolio. It’s time to rip your hair out in frustration as you struggle to paint yourself as the perfect intern. Are you ready? If not, here are a few helpful tips to get you through this agonizing process.
1. Collaborate with an advisor or mentor.
The first, and often most intimidating, part of finding an internship is just finding out where to apply. Advisors and mentors are extremely helpful in this regard, because often they have connections, or at least know where students have interned in the past. In addition, with their own professional experience, they can help you write and revise a standout cover letter and résumé – which is really important for getting your foot in the door. Most importantly though, it is very beneficial to have someone in your corner to offer moral support and encouragement as you put yourself out there.
2. Give yourself some time.
If you don’t have time, make time. That is the harsh reality. You will be very busy and stressed, balancing applications with schoolwork and other activities; there is no doubt about it. But, it is essential. While it is tempting to send out your documents quickly and efficiently, there is a much more pressing need to send them out right – well-written, informative and unique. Of course, you will, on occasion, have to scramble. But, as a general rule, try to give yourself at least a couple of weeks to tackle the application process for an internship, to really showcase your best work.
3. Mold yourself to the organization’s mission.
When a company or organization is looking to hire someone, they want that person to be compliant with their goals. Even more so, they want that person to know what they do and be familiar with their work. So, if you just heard about this cool company today and you want to apply for an internship with them, it is important to do research. Browse the website; read any publications; find testimonials. Subtly incorporate this knowledge into your cover letter and into your interview, to let employers know you are informed. Don’t give them a history lesson or anything – just demonstrate how you, as an employee, would be the best fit for the company.
4. Be creative – both in where you are applying and how you apply.
There are millions of companies, public relations firms, news outlets and organizations that you have never even heard of. An internship is a huge opportunity to become involved with something that you’ve never imagined – and it could lead to an exciting job in the future. To get the internship, make sure you set yourself apart in the application process. Call or email to ask questions; utilize social media; or create a dynamic and interesting portfolio – whatever you do, try make yourself different from all of the other applicants. You need to be memorable.
5. Diversify your portfolio.
Not only does this mean you should show pieces from several categories – news releases, brochures, fact sheets, etc. – but it also means that each of those sections should be divided into subsections. You have to show potential employers that you can write any news release, and you have experience ranging multiple topics which each presented their own challenges for you to overcome. Let your future employers know that your skills are versatile, and you can be trusted with any task.
6. Be yourself.
Well, be a very professional and respectful version of yourself. But you need to be at ease. If you are called in for an interview, show the interviewer that you are confident in your abilities and in your personality, and you know that you will be a good fit. If you don’t believe it, neither will they.
7. Revise, revise, revise.
Do not be the person who misspells the second word on your résumé, simply because you’ve read over it a thousand times. Especially within the field of communication, writing and editing skills are fundamental; and that kind of slip-up will detract from your credibility. Always have multiple sets of eyes look at your documents – several times – and be very meticulous before you send them out.
Good luck applying, everyone!
Teghan Simonton is a sophomore with a dual major in public relations and journalism. She serves as the publicity chair for Waynesburg PRSSA and as managing editor for the award-winning Yellow Jacket student newspaper. She is an active member of Red Brick Communications and the Society of Professional Journalists. In her free time, Teghan is a member of the cross country and track teams.