Internships 101: tips for success

Finding and preparing for internships can be stressful. Here are some helpful tips to make the best of the situation. Photo credit: Flazingo Photos, flickr

If there is one thing in college that I cannot stress enough, it is that internships are one of the most important parts of college. Nothing breaks my heart more than when I ask someone between sophomore and junior year on how the internship application process is going, and they tell me they haven’t started looking-internships are essential in college.

 

Now, I know what you might be asking and thinking, “How do I even begin the internship process? It’s so hard! I don’t know what I’m doing!” It’s not hard; you just need to put effort into it. I have two internships on my resume that put me one step ahead of job competition. Why? Because I worked in college to gain knowledge and experience in professional settings; the classroom can only teach so much before you need to physically learn how the job field works.

 

Here are some helpful tips that can lead you down the path to correctly applying for internships, building your resume and credentials, and dressing for success when the time comes for an interview.

 

Searching for Internships:

 

There are many websites on the Web that constantly have postings for internships. A few of my favorites that have been helpful to me are Indeed.com, Monster.com, and College Central Network. These websites constantly have new listings for internships in all seasons of the year.

Make a list to keep track of the companies you have found, and go to their websites to get a better idea of what the company does and is looking for in an intern.

 

Please keep in mind, do not solely rely on finding a paid internship. Companies hire interns to provide knowledge, experience and help build resumes. If there is an internship that catches your interest, but it’s not paid, get over it. That’s what part-time jobs are for. The Career Field Experience credits are a necessity to graduate.

 

Once you have completed the process of filling out the internships applications, it is important to keep track of the day you submitted the application to follow-up on the application process. Wait at least two weeks before you contact the Human Resources Department to check on the status of the internship position. By doing this, you are informing the company of your interest in pursuing the job opportunity, and the recruiter will look further into your application.

 

Building Your Resume and Credentials:

 

Another important part in applying for internships is building your resume and other credentials to give to the employer. When I say other credentials, I mean a cover letter and reference page. If you’re reading this and thinking, “Well, I don’t know how to make any of those documents,” I suggest you make an appointment with your Career Services advisor.

 

Career Services is located on the second floor of Wick, past the scan-in area to get something to eat. The Career Services advisors can help you properly build your resume, how to type a cover letter, and clarify what type of people to ask for references if an employer wants to know more about you.

 

Preparation for The Interview:

 

When the day comes where you receive that phone call or email asking you to come into the company for an interview, first let me say, congratulations! Now, dressing for the interview is imperative because how you dress can express who you are. With that being said, do not wear jeans or leggings; that may be common sense to some, but you would be surprised how many people will make that mistake.

Photo credit: Tim Gouw, Pexels

 

To dress for an interview, you want to look business professional. For men, the interview attire includes dress slacks (nothing bright, fancy, or cropped), a long sleeve, collared dress shirt (preferably white), a tie, a suit jacket (if you have one) and comfortable dress shoes (no sneakers). Ladies, look to wear black dress pants, a professional shirt or blouse with no revealing features, a comfortable shoe you can easily walk in and try to wear a light amount of jewelry if desired.

 

Practice answering interview questions ahead of time, research about the company and come prepared with a mindset of what you are looking for in this internships experience. It is also important to have questions for the interviewer rather than sit in the interview and be asked questions. When you ask the interviewer questions about the job position or the company, you’re applying your interest and demonstrating how you are able to carry a conversation with an employer.

 

On the day of the interview, be sure to bring a pen (make sure it works), paper/notepad, your resume credentials, your smile and a positive attitude. Bring all the items in a folder; this will make everything easier to carry and you will have a place to put business cards or info sheets that employers may give you at the interview.

 

Follow-Up After the Interview:

 

Once the interview is complete, it is important to ask this question, “What is the next step from this interview?” This question means that you would like to know the next steps in the interview process, and informs the recruiter that you are interested in the job position. After you leave the interview, send a follow-up email to the person who interviewed you thanking them for the interviewing opportunityand you looked forward to hearing from them soon.

 

Now that you know all the tips and secrets to applying for an internship, what are you waiting for? Get on the computer and start applying, Contact Career Services, and get your interview outfit together! Don’t wait until the last minute to apply for internships; use this time wisely to build your resume and work skills for future employment.

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