Internships provide an excellent opportunity to build your résumé with real-world experience. You will form relationships and network with colleagues in your profession. Internships also may lead to permanent employment after graduation.
The application process for internships can be very competitive. Most applicants will be eliminated after the initial review. Use these top 10 tips to avoid common mistakes seen by employers and to ensure your application creates a positive impression.
1. Read the position description carefully and consider whether you meet the requirements.
Target positions for which you are qualified, rather than applying for every position in sight. If an organization sees you were not thoughtful on your choice of position, they may think you are desperate to get anything.
2. Customize your résumé for the job.
It is acceptable to have several versions of your résumé. Make sure to use key words or skills that are mentioned in the job description. Managers will look through literally hundreds of résumés sent in for their summer positions. Make sure they can easily see your experience that connects with the need they’ve expressed in the posting.
3. Format your résumé to make it clear and easy to read.
Highlight your skills. Most applications will be viewed initially by a recruiter who is looking for a specific list of required skills. They need to be able to determine easily if you are a match for the position.
4. Be clear on your résumé about the skills, projects, and duties you have performed in previous positions/school projects.
Don’t be overly concerned with keeping the résumé to one page. At the same time, don’t be so verbose that it takes the recruiter a long time to review your information.
5. Ensure your contact information is accurate. Recruiters may try one method of contact, and if that doesn’t work, you could be eliminated.
Set up a voicemail message that clearly states your name. Recruiters like to confirm they are leaving a message for the correct person.
6. Provide all required information and attachments by the stated deadline.
Read application requirements carefully. A timely and complete application is a realistic preview for how thorough and detail oriented you are about your work.
7. Write a cover letter that is specific to the position.
Not all positions will require a cover letter, but if one does, explain why you are qualified and interested in the work. Be clear and concise; verbosity creates a negative impression.
8. Proof your résumé and cover letter.
Ask a friend or professor to review all documents. Sending in a letter or résumé with misspellings or grammatical errors creates a negative impression.
9. Save or print positions for which you apply.
Create a notebook or spreadsheet with each job and a few notes. When a recruiter calls you, they expect you to be knowledgeable about the position. Doing this also will show enthusiasm for that position and company.
10. Be prepared with specific questions to ask during initial phone screens and interviews.
Ask a professor or someone from your career advisory department to conduct a mock interview. When asked questions, be prepared to give an answer that includes a specific situation, the task you were challenged with, the action you took, and the end result.
Take your time and be strategic when applying for internships. This will create a positive impression of you and your skills and help secure the internship you want.