Internships, especially at the college level, can be cutthroat. It’s estimated that 75% of applicants never hear back from a position they applied to. Many internships require you to have a connection to even be considered. My most recent internship search was a long one, but I believe that I made it more complicated than it should have been. I learned a lot from this application process and received great feedback from employers on how to make my application and interviews more competitive in the future.
Here are seven pieces of advice that might make the application process a little easier and can hopefully help you to land your dream internship.
1. Apply, apply, apply!
It is not uncommon for a company to receive hundreds, even thousands of applications for an internship position. Although you might be qualified for the role, so are the majority of other hopeful students who applied. This is why it is important to expand your options and apply for a lot of internships.
During my internship hunt, my friends always made fun of me because I applied for so many – 42 to be exact. While this was an extremely time consuming and sometimes discouraging process, if I had only applied for a few positions I would have risked working at an internship that I didn’t love, or even worse not getting one at all. Applying for as many internships as I did increased my chances of getting one and eventually allowed me to end up with the internship that was the best fit for me here at Go Fish Digital.
2. Stay organized.
My biggest piece of advice for applying for internships is to stay organized. Throughout my own summer internship search, I had a massive spreadsheet that included the company name, job title, application deadline, what materials the application required, the status of my own application, and any other relevant details for every single internship I found.
Going into that much detail may seem a bit tedious, but after applying for only a few internships, information such as the status of your applications, future deadlines, follow up emails and updates from the company can all run together, causing you to potentially miss something important. Keeping each internship opportunity neatly organized in a spreadsheet can prevent this and allow your internship search to go much more smoothly.
3. Don’t underestimate your connections.
Take advantage of LinkedIn. It’s a great resource to find companies that might be hiring interns. In fact, the LinkedIn jobs section is how I found my summer internship!
In addition to following companies and looking at job postings, you can also explore the site and see what roles your connections are working in or have previously worked in. You never know what you’ll find, and sometimes it can lead to an opportunity.
You can even do the same thing outside of LinkedIn. I often found myself asking my friends, classmates, and professors about internships they previously had, internships they would recommend, or internships they know about. Word of mouth is a powerful resource, and it can connect you to more internship opportunities than you might think. Don’t forget to return the favor by helping connect your friends to internships you’ve previously had or know about. What goes around, comes around!
4. Do your research.
When applying and interviewing with companies, it is vital to do your research on the company and on the specific job you are applying to.
I’ll be honest, in the midst of my summer internship search, I got lazy on an application and didn’t research all of the available positions the company had to offer. I realized at midnight the night before my interview that I had actually applied and was interviewing for a position I wasn’t qualified for at all, and I missed out on applying for a position with the same company that I was very qualified for, all because I didn’t do my research.
Take my advice, and do not put yourself in this position. Blindly submitting an application will only hurt you in the long run. Research the company, their internship opportunities, and everything they have to offer before submitting an application and especially before interviewing, or you might find yourself in a situation similar to mine.
5. Know your worth.
Internships aren’t necessarily known to be the most fun or high-paying jobs out there. As an intern, you may not be making “big bucks” or doing the most exciting work, but you should at least enjoy your experience, and you should most definitely be learning more about the industry you’re working in. This is why, if extended an internship offer, it is important to know your worth as an employee. If you feel an internship isn’t going to pay you what you deserve (or at all), if they’re asking you to work unfair hours, or if they’re asking you to do work that just doesn’t feel right, then don’t accept the offer.
You may feel pressured to accept the first internship offer you receive in the fear that you won’t get another one. If the internship meets your qualifications, then go for it! But if something doesn’t feel right about it, then it might be best to hold off and keep applying.
It is important to recognize your worth and your abilities as an applicant so that you can land an internship that will allow you to reap the full benefits. Internships are used to determine what field and direction you ultimately want to go in after college, and accepting the wrong internship can prevent you from figuring this out.
6. Don’t look past unpaid internships.
While it is important to recognize your worth as an applicant, don’t look past what an unpaid internship might have to offer, especially if you’ve never had a relevant internship before.
My first internship was in digital marketing, and it was unpaid. This was my first real experience in the digital marketing industry, and it allowed me to learn and develop skills much greater than what I could have picked up in a classroom. While I would have loved to be paid, I had to realize that I didn’t have a lot of relevant experience going into the internship, and what the internship had to offer was ultimately greater than any paycheck they could have given me.
The skills and hands-on experience I gained in this particular position helped me to secure my current internship here at Go Fish Digital, and I would have never gotten this internship had it not been for my unpaid one. Therefore, it is extremely important to consider what an internship might have to offer you in the future when considering what they will pay you. You never know, the connections and skills might be worth more than a paycheck.
7. Send a thank-you note.
You’ve probably heard, “send a thank you note after your interview!” a thousand times from your advisors and, at this point, think it’s common knowledge. But you would be surprised at the number of people who don’t follow up after speaking with a potential employer. A simple thank you note, or even an email, after an interview can make you stand out as an applicant, and it shows the employer that you are serious about the job opportunity.
However, when sending a thank you email, don’t send a standard “thank you” that could go to any company. Tailor it to the conversation that you had during your interview. Tell them specific things you enjoyed talking about, or mention a few details you might have learned about the company in the conversation. Make it personal to the interviewer, and you are much more likely to be a memorable applicant.
While the internship hunt can be challenging and stressful, it is completely possible to land a valuable internship that can take you further in your career. Hopefully, if you’re on the hunt for a killer internship, these tips will make the application process just a little bit easier for you.
Do you have any additional tips for landing the perfect internship? Share in the comments below, and don’t forget to check out Go Fish Digital’s current job openings.