If you’re a college student who’s coming up on graduation or you’re just looking for some real-world experience before you enter the job market, there’s a good chance you’ll be in search of an internship opportunity in the near future.
Applying for internships can be a daunting task at first. Applications for positions ask for a lot of information about you and it can be tough to figure out how exactly to present yourself in the best possible light.
To start, you’re going to need a resume and a cover letter as those are the two most common requests potential employers will make of you as you fill out their applications and the two most important things they will look at to determine whether you are a good fit for the position you are vying for.
If you’ve never built a resume before, one thing you can do to get started is to look at templates for resumes online. Google docs, for example, has resume templates ready to go should you need them. As you look through templates, try to think about your skills and field of study and how a given template might highlight the best aspects of you. If you’re still struggling with a format for your resume, you can always visit the student center at your university, and try to find out if they have resume workshops, where you can get help from dedicated staff in building your resume.
As you write your resume, listing your education and work experience, don’t be afraid to toot your own horn. You are trying to present yourself in the best way possible, so describe yourself in ways that will make you sound like a professional, skilled, and highly valued worker, even if you aren’t necessarily one. Once you’re satisfied with the appearance of your resume, you can move on to your cover letter.
Your cover letter is a little bit different than your resume because you’ll have to make frequent edits as your filling out applications to make sure it’s specifically tailored to each position you apply for. If you write a fairly general cover letter that highlights the most relevant skills to your field of study, you shouldn’t have to make more than a few tweaks each time you apply for a new position.
Other than that, the most important thing about a cover letter is to keep it professional, short, and to the point. Write about your experience and skills, explain why this position is desirable for you, and express your passion and excitement to do the kind of work you’ve been studying for over the course of your college career.
You don’t have to do much more than that because an employer probably won’t read more than a few paragraphs anyway. You have to keep in mind that this person probably has several dozen, if not hundreds of people sending in applications for this position, and yours is just another paper in a big stack. Make their job easy and keep things short and sweet.
Now that you have a decent resume and cover letter, before you send out any applications, it’s not a bad idea to seek out your department’s internship coordinator. Internship coordinators can be of great service to you because it’s essentially their job to help students get internships. Not only can they help you beef up your resume and cover letter, but they’re likely to know about some potential opportunities, and have connections with employers in your field who are looking for qualified candidates for internships. Even as you’re applying, your internship coordinator can continue to offer you counsel and advice to help you pick the opportunity that works best for you.
At some point, after filling out countless applications, you’re going to start to get phone calls or emails from potential employers who want to hear more from you. Congrats! That means somebody saw your application and decided you look good enough on paper that they want to seriously consider you for an internship. The application process is probably the most discouraging and stressful step in finding an internship, so to have made it to the point where you’re now scheduling interviews is a great thing. Now all you have to do is make it through the final stretch.
If an employer is calling you back after seeing your application, they’re likely to ask you to schedule an interview with them or perhaps complete some kind of test or evaluation. Whatever your major or the position is, it’s mainly important to simply put your best foot forward. Much like any job interview you’ve been to before you’re going to want to dress nice and try to anticipate some of the questions they might ask you so you can go in prepared and confident. If you’re asked to complete an evaluation or skill test, be sure to take your time and complete it to the best of your ability.
The bottom line is if you’ve made it this far, the employer thinks you might have what it takes to be their intern, so this final step is really just a matter of proving to them what they already know based on your application. Do that, and you’ll find yourself with an internship opportunity before you know it.