Beginning the hunt for a high quality paid internship can be a grueling task especially when the internships you are looking for are competitive and in short supply.
I am a rising junior in college and have already had two paid internships. My own searches took a bit of time, but I eventually scored the kinds of positions I was looking for. While I have had a lot of encouragement from other people, I owe all of my success to my own self-motivation.
So, keep this in mind: The most essential driving force for success is yourself. If there is one thing I know for sure, it’s that every ounce of the process is important, from utilizing your search to executing and killing the interview.
- Connect, Communicate, and Follow Up!
Let’s face it, applying online for a job by hitting the submit button and sending your resume into “a pool of applicant oblivion” is virtually hopeless. The best thing you can do to increase your chances is setting yourself apart! Send a personalized cover letter, send a follow up email or connect on LinkedIn; the small differences show your level of interest without you having to voice it.
- Tone is everything—on the phone, in an email, everywhere.
How you communicate sets the foundation for how potential employers will evaluate your personality. I always make an effort to communicate in a friendly manner; ask personal yet professional questions, show interest and be polite.
- Be picky about what you want.
Sure, your criteria may just be a job that pays well and allows you to slap a title on your resume. However, your success in landing that job and excelling is absolutely dependent upon your motivation to do well. I have had internships that I wasn’t entirely thrilled about and others that get me out of bed in the morning. Believe me, I excel the most at the exciting ones where my eyes light up with enthusiasm every time I talk about the work I’m doing. Pick something you are not only interested in, but you think you would truly be good at.
- Dress and play the part!
I have always been told that you should never wear anything to an interview you wouldn’t wear to your grandma’s house. In other words, look professional (of course!), but don’t let that stop you from incorporating your own personal style. You want to wear something that makes you feel confident on the inside. Don’t forget that the way you communicate and how you carry yourself are also crucial indicators of your personality and professionalism.
- You have to be your own motivator.
While I’ve grown up being surrounded by people, such as my successful older sister, who have encouraged me to stay on track with my goals, my success has been 100% dependent upon my own motivation. No one is going to come to your house and sit over your shoulder until you submit resumes and send out emails to employers—that’s all up to you. Applying for jobs is a time consuming task, but your commitment to the process will determine your success with it.
Landing a paid internship is not as easy as ABC. While it may sound like it can be a lot of work, the best place to start is anywhere! Get your feet wet or dive in; however you get the ball rolling is the best way to begin.
Job searching can be a tedious process, but it absolutely teaches you a lot about your work ethic. As I sit, surrounded by my new amazing team doing work that genuinely interests me, I can say with certainty that it will absolutely pay off.