Internships play an important part in defining a student’s career path. They provide a hands-on experience of what a particular role, company, and industry have to offer, in addition to honing professional skills and growing one’s network. As a bridge between education and employment, internships enable students to determine where in the world of work they best fit. Data from Pew Research indicates that 36.6% of American students secure internships for this very reason, making the playing field more competitive than ever before.
As such, it’s important to have your bases covered so you can increase your chances of landing your dream internship. To help you successfully achieve this, here are some helpful tips.
Determine the specific skills you need
More companies are on the lookout for students who already possess certain hard and soft skills. This is because it gives them a better idea of what you can bring to the table, as well as helping them determine how they can curate the internship experience for you. For example, an e-commerce company might pick a student with good analytical skills, as this will let them flourish in a sales or marketing position.
Now, it may seem tempting to go out there and pick up any and all skills, but doing so means unnecessarily spreading yourself too thin. Remember: companies look for specific skills, so it’s better to focus on brushing up on a handful relevant to the industry you’re interested in. One way to do this is through online courses provided by the likes of Coursera and Udemy. This not only saves you time but also provides you with credible certifications upon completion.
Refine your cover letter
Before you start sending out applications, make sure that you’ve thoroughly prepared your cover letter. Most students tend to underestimate the cover letter and focus on their resume, but this is not ideal. This is because cover letters introduce you to a prospective company and detail how you're a great fit for their internship program. As such, most recruiters see it as an essential way to get to know you better.
Now, since 74% of recruiters do actively consider cover letters in the application process it's important to practice the right etiquette. As seen in LHH’s email cover letter samples, the most convincing ones are concise yet comprehensive. The best cover letters answer any questions that may arise from your resume and also subtly invite the hiring manager to reach out. This entices rather than overwhelms recruiters, thus increasing the likelihood of a callback. On the other hand, you'll want to avoid sending in a cover letter that reads too generic or unpolished. It shouldn't have any typos and should definitely not be addressed to another company or hiring manager. This underscores how serious you are about joining a specific internship program.
Build your network
As you make headway with applications, don’t forget to build your network. In today’s digital age, you can easily leverage the power of social media, especially the likes of LinkedIn or Handshake. Through these platforms, you can connect with alumni and professionals making waves in the industry you’re interested in. This will expose you to valuable insights you might not receive elsewhere and serves as an accessible line for receiving expert tips and honest advice.
Outside of these platforms, your professors can also spell the difference between a good opportunity and a great one. The most recent Student Voice survey reveals that 14%of students found internship opportunities through their professors. As experts in their own fields, your educators hold a lot of influence within specific industries. They can also help open doors by way of recommendations or application references, so don’t overlook them.
Prepare for your interview
As the final step to cinching the role, interviews can make or break your application. Recruiters often use their twenty minutes with you to determine not just your suitability for the internship position, but for a potential full-time role in the future, too. To start your preparations, you can go through a list of commonly asked questions, such as those we list in our article “College Interview Questions to Prepare For”, and approach your answers using the STAR method. As we explain in the aforementioned article, doing so will help you filter your thoughts and construct your responses in away recruiters will appreciate more.
Depending on the role you're applying for, some companies may request you to submit a simple essay before or during the interview. If essay writing is not something that comes easy to you, you can take advantage of essay brainstorming sessions and editorial services like our Frank Advice before your big day. These one-on-one sessions will help you get a hang of writing and ensure that you present your thoughts succinctly.
Internships are a great way to discover the ins and outs of your chosen career path. They play a huge role in your future career as well, so it’s important that you land one that will set you on the right course. With the tips we’ve outlined above, we hope you can accomplish that.