To some, the first day of April may mean showers of rain, but to me, it means something entirely different: internship application season! Internships are a great way to get a feel for what real businesses are like while you’re still in school! I have actually started applying a little early this year (because I just love applying for things), but April is considered the primary month for applying to internships.
I have been interning at an advertising agency for the past nine months and have learned SO much in such a short period of time. My primary duties involve copywriting and social media content management, but I have also obtained skills in content marketing, technical writing, and even building websites!
I learn so much in the Editing, Writing, and Media program at FSU, but I learn such valuable skills through interning. I am a hands-on learner, so internships are extremely useful for gaining experience and creating a portfolio.
In the past three years at FSU, I’ve noticed that obtaining an internship has been getting harder and harder. Oftentimes, companies only want people that have had previous interning experience or that have an extensive portfolio. This can be hard if you’re a freshman or if it’s your first time applying. However, there are still some tips that can help you get your foot in the door!
1) Make a spreadsheet. A friend of mine told me this earlier this year, and it was one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received: Make a spreadsheet to document the specifics all in one place! I am always looking for ways to become more organized, so this was the perfect option for me! Some great categories to include are
- Name of the company
- Internship Program?
- Application Deadline
- Whom to contact
- If/when you contacted/applied
- Start and end dates
Side note: For those that don’t have Microsoft Word, I have found GoogleDrive extremely helpful! It is especially useful for when you’re on the go; you can quickly peek at it on your phone, iPad, or when you’re on a different computer than your own. Perk: it’s FREE!
2) Write a cover letter. Always, always, always include a cover letter! Even if the application process does not require one, it is still a good idea to send one along with your current résumé. Human resource reps or internship coordinators like to receive personal letters (they probably get hundreds of emails and résumés a day!). This is your chance to stand out! Show what makes you you. Let your personality shine!
Side note: Be sure to save your cover letter and résumé in a PDF copy, and put them in the same document!
3) Be professional. Be on time, dress appropriately, and turn your phone off. Bring a couple copies of your resume, maybe even your tablet if they’re a technological company. (I once pulled out my iPad during a meet and greet to show my website, blog, LinkedIn, Google Drive, and a few writing samples. He was more than impressed.) Ask questions, smile, and be yourself.
Side note: It’s a good idea to Google yourself before you start applying. There are also tons of great resources on the Internet that have examples of what to wear, common interview questions, and what questions to ask.
4) Write a handwritten thank you note. I have had multiple jobs in the past few years, and always make it a point to ask my employers if receiving a thank you note affects their decision in hiring the candidate. Every single person told me that receiving a thank you note after an interview earns you super brownie points. It’s just nice. They took the time out of their day to email you back, interview you, and tell you about their company. Even if you don’t get the job or even want to job, it’s still a good idea to send that little note.
Side note: Here are some examples of personal thank you notes.
5) Follow up. You’ve applied, that’s great! Now you have to wait. (I know, the struggle!) But that isn’t the end of the application process! It is imperative that you email or call them to ensure they received your application; it also shows that you are still interested. Your dedication to picking up the phone or shooting that email tells wonders about your character and work ethic. The time period fluctuates depending on the size of the company, time of year, etc. but I would say that it’s a good idea to follow up within a week.
Side note: Give them a quick reminder of who you are! They have probably received tons of applications; stand out. After introducing yourself, be sure to include factual details, such as “I emailed you on _____,” “I applied for the _____ position,” or “I recently spoke with _____.”
I hope these tips have helped! Do you know of any other tips or tricks you’d like to share?