Have you been searching for your dream internship, but feel like you’re not sure what employers really want from you? Internships are becoming essential to college students who want to work in their field straight out of college, because the experience that is gained in an internship is valuable and making those industry connections is vital. College experience is good, but actual work experience is even better.
There are many mistakes that you can make when applying for internships, but here are some of the most common ones (and how to avoid them).
1. Not Applying to Enough Internships
The truth is that you are not going to get every internship you apply for. To prepare for this, you need to apply for more than just the one that seems the most ideal to you. Applying for one internship is definitely the easiest thing to do, and if you get a job, that’s even better on you, but the chances of getting your dream internship on the first try is very low. Apply for a bunch of internships to raise these chances.
Another pro tip: Don’t get too picky. Sure, the “I’ll take any internship!” track isn’t the right mentality either, but don’t turn down internships that aren’t absolutely perfect or don’t meet every single one of your nice-to-haves.
2. Waiting Too Long to Apply
It’s not hard to put off a date for so long that you completely forget to apply by the application deadline. Yes, most internships require you to apply in a very short window of time, but this gives you ample time to prepare your application and write your cover letter for that company. Procrastination will not help you get that dream internship you’ve been scavenging for.
3. Not Following Up
Employers aren’t perfect; they can forget about you, just like you can forget about them. Following up with the employer after you send the application to them will ensure that they know who you are and won’t forget to take you into consideration when they are appointing their internship positions.
When should you follow up after submitting an application? Give it at least five to seven days, then send a quick three-sentence “Hey, just checking in!” email.
4. Not Sending a Cover Letter
If an employer gives you space for an optional cover letter or a place to include an attachment, write a cover letter and send it over. You have absolutely nothing to lose by doing this, but you have so much to gain. Companies want to know exactly why you are applying for certain positions. This will only help your chances and show the employer how worthy you are of the position you are applying for.
Never written a cover letter before? Check out our tips in the WayUp Guide.
5. Depending on Other People to Recommend You for a Position
We all have those friends who say they can get us an internship or job for the summer, but we also know that they can never follow through with their promises. Depending on other people is never a good idea when it comes to furthering your professional career, so don’t lean on anyone’s shoulders but your own. Get down to the nitty-gritty and do your research on different internships. Yes, it’s okay to have a friend send some emails, but don’t put all of your eggs in that one basket.
6. Not Cleaning Your Social Media
The last thing an employer needs to see is the distasteful tweets you made about the most recent election. They would much rather see your professionalism on display in all aspects, including your social media. Make sure you go through your archives and delete anything that an employer would not like to see. They check your social media–it’s not as private as you might think.
7. Not Following Application Instructions
This is important: The first impression that you’re going to give an employer is the way you followed the instructions of the application they provided. If you aren’t careful and mess up on even one part of the application, this will be a massive blow to your chances of getting the internship.
8. Only Applying to One Type of Company
Facebook and Google have enough applicants; why don’t you try applying for smaller companies? On the flip side, if all of your previous work experiences are with smaller organizations, it might be time to see how the corporate life would treat you.
Branching out not only diversifies your resume but also gives you a number of new experiences to consider as you continue to figure out what you want to do after graduation.
9. Using an Outdated Resume
Make sure that the resume you send to your dream internship contains everything that you’ve done up to the point of when you sent the application. Add everything that would be relevant, and always check your resume before you send it.
And another thing: make sure you create a custom resume for every single position you apply for! Your resume should be highlighting things that the company specifically calls out in its internship listing, and not doing this could be the factor that separates you from getting to the interview round and becoming just another app in the pile.
Get those applications out. You never know what internships you might land; just make sure you avoid these mistakes at all costs, whether you’re applying for your dream internship or your dream career.