When it comes to landing a job, something extra is needed to have your resume stand out from the crowd.
That something is experience.
Getting a job in this tough economy is no easy feat – especially for college students and recent grads. Even if you have a killer cover letter, a stunning GPA, and recommendations from the likes of Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey, having experience is the push you need in the direction of your dream career.
The best way for college students to gain valuable experience is through internships.
Internships are valuable because they give you a sneak peek into what it’s really like to work in a certain field or at a specific company. Internships help you get your feet in the building, and can even open doors for you.
Here we go with 5 tips to help you land your dream internship:
1. Do your research.
Before anything else, you need to know exactly what you’re getting into. It’s best to write things down for you to look back for future reference.
When looking for internships, such questions you need to ask yourself include:
– Can I afford to take an unpaid internship? (Can I afford not to take this unpaid internship?)
Knowing the answers to these questions will help you narrow down your search for your perfect internship.
Write down the companies or type of companies you want to work with. Research their job descriptions, and even considering calling someone in the office for an informational interview. Doing so can help provide a clear direction for what they are looking for in an ideal intern when you start applying. You’ll be able to tailor your resume and cover letter to show how you are the ideal intern they are looking for.
2. Clean up your paperwork.
The importance of the cleanliness of your paperwork can’t be stressed enough. People often forget that their resumes and cover letters are the first impression to the employer before they even read what you’re about.
First and foremost: no crinkles, no stains, and no folds. An employer can take any sign of such as laziness and carelessness.
Pro-tip: Print your resumes on high quality paper — they will stand out to anyone who handles a physical resume.
Second, cleanliness goes beyond the physical. Please double check for any and all spelling and grammatical errors. If possible, ask someone to look over your papers before submitting them. You don’t want to risk your resume landing in the trash bin because of avoidable errors.
(Check out our Resume Workshop for more resume tips!)
Third, make sure everything on your resume is relevant and up-to-date. Depending on the internship you are applying for, input any new and relevant job experience, awards, or references you may have.
Your papers get to the employer before you do. Take the time to tailor each resume for each and every job you’re applying for. Double check that you’re sending the right one. First impressions are crucial — make this one count!
3. Take advantage of other resources.
Of course your computer is your first choice when looking for internships. Let’s be honest, it’s probably the most convenient and can be the most helpful. Be mindful, though, that you’re not limited to just your laptop. As a college student, your opportunities are bountiful!
Take advantage of the student organizations that your college offers. These organizations, especially if related to your major, usually announce internship opportunities to its members.
Does your college have a career center? Go visit! Career centers offer many opportunities for internship and job hunters. Such opportunities include career fairs, workshops, and even seminars and presentations with well-known professionals.
Advisors in your career center can provide priceless information about the internship process and even give you the scoops on internships that aren’t advertised online.
4. Network, network, network!
Aside from using your other resources, getting in touch with your network is especially important. Use your network of your family, friends, friend’s family, school, work, and organizations to find out about any possible internship. If anyone in your network knows you are looking for an internship, they will likely let you know if they hear about one.
In addition, attend as much networking events as possible such as meetings, fairs, mixers, or conferences associated with the field you’re looking into. Try to participate and meet as much people as much as you can. A lot of these events are free, so take advantage of any and all opportunities!
5. Bring your A game to the interview.
It’s already a given that you should be presentable and punctual when going to your interview. You should also consider asking questions. Research the company beforehand and have questions prepared. Be ready to showcase your accomplishments, experiences, and your best qualities. Know what you can bring to the company through the internship and why you are a great candidate.
Ensure that your body language and answers are professionally expressed and isn’t in any way inappropriate. As long as you are truthful and confident in yourself, there really is nothing to lose. If at any time you receive a rejection notice, just remember that it’s on to the next one.
Internships are incredibly valuable experiences, especially for college students!