Internships 101

Crib Notes: How to Find an Internship

Finding a great internship is going to be HARD. You need a great resume, but even more so you need a great STRATEGY! In the end you need to get professional to be taken serious by an employer, so below are seven steps on how to succeed:

1. Think about your general motivation for finding an internship.

Is it to explore a new field, gain contacts in a given industry, learn on the job skills, or to simply pad your resume?  Understanding your motivations will help you focus on where to apply and will also open new doors in case your ideal position does not come through.

2. Search and Save.

Certainly a good first step on any job or internship search is getting in touch with personal, academic, and professional contacts and networking with them about potential opportunities. Looking online is great because all of a sudden your swimming in a much bigger pool.

  • Search for POSITIONS, not for a company.
    Searching all marketing positions in a given location will open new options at organizations that need marketing help and offer marketing experience but which are not a traditional marketing firm. These include non-profits or start-up companies which may be less competitive overall but still offer ideal industry experience.
  • Find 10-20 positions.
    One of the biggest benefits of an online search is that once your basic application materials are created, applying to additional positions online is EASY. To improve your odds find 10-20 positions which are all good options. In fact, you may want to apply to a bunch more than this — there is no harm in opening more doors, doing more interviews, and testing the waters at more places.
  • Save all these positions along with your application status on WayUp.
    Keeping your search organized is absolutely key. You are going to want to remember where you are in the application process, little reminders about the person you spoke to (we both grew up in MI… awesome) and what your next deadline is.

3. Get your resume and cover letter materials ready.

When you apply online these documents are the only means an employer will have to evaluate you. It is important to see these documents as your personal brand, marketing your experience to the organization you are applying to and eliminating any error or typos that will appear novice. A lot of work goes into making these documents strong but if you put in the time you will stand out from the pack. We recommend you visit our resources section to see sample internship resumes and cover letters, and that you read our advice on how to take these documents to the next level.

4. Apply and Follow-Up:

With positions saved and materials ready it is time to start applying.  Ideally you should customize your resume and cover letter for every organization you apply to.  It is important to remember that after you submit materials the process is still not over. While not always necessary you may want to follow-up a week after you submit your application with a phone call or email to the intern hiring director and make sure the materials arrived in their hands. This is an opportunity to show your ability to be confident and professional while speaking on the phone or emailing.

5. Get ready to interview:

Just like improving your application flow and your resume documents, getting ready for an internship interview takes a lot of practice. We recommend getting in front of a mirror and rehearsing common answers and/or convincing a friend to be your practice interviewer. Practicing answers out loud and hearing how they sound makes a big difference.

6. Reflect, Improve and Repeat:

If you landed a position after steps 1 through 5, congratulations. If not, do not get discouraged. As stated in the introduction, this is a challenging process, with the final reward of becoming much better at the entire search and application process. You should reflect upon what worked and what did not, ask the people you have interviewed with what you can do better next time, and incorporate feedback to improve your future prospects. Internships on are constantly being updated so frequently check what is new and incorporate feedback as you apply to the latest positions.

7. There is no guarantee (especially in the current competitive job market) that there is an internship waiting for you – you need to go out there and get it.

Following these steps will guarantee that you are approaching this process in a systematic way that gives you the best possible shot. There will always be new opportunities so don’t get discouraged, focus on improving this process, and learning as much as you can. Finally, remember to always be courteous to employers even if things do not work out with them. Through this process you will become a stronger applicant and develop your professional network!

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as 6 Ways to Impress Your Boss and find answers to common interview questions such as What Are Your Strengths?