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Intern Like a Pro: Tips for Landing the Right Summer Gig

Summer is fast approaching—whether you’re gearing up for another year of school in the fall or about to graduate, an internship might be the right gig for your summertime career. But where to start—and when?

Check out these spring semester tips to landing the right summer internship gig.

Research Your Options

What are your internship options? A first step is to ask your academic advisor—he or she will be a foremost authority on the best fit for your skills and desired career goals. Next, stop by the Office of Career Development (OCD) for a running list of what’s available and upcoming.

Perfect Your Application

Most applications will include three elements—a cover letter, a résumé and an application form. Make sure you complete each one accurately, honestly and with an evident hunger to be a part of the particular organization to which you’re applying. (No typos allowed—triple-check your work!)

As far as your résumé goes, make sure to include relevant coursework, volunteer activity and hands-on work experience—avoid experience that doesn’t have an obvious application to the job at hand. (Don’t forget to take your finished résumé to the OCD for an expert review.)

And make an impact with your cover letter—keep it short and avoid clichés that don’t really say anything specific about your work ethic or performance (i.e., “I give 110%” or “I go above and beyond”).

Create Your Profile

Your online presence is an important part of the intern application process—from your LinkedIn profile to your Instagram feed. Ensure your professional profile includes only your best work samples and experience, and cross-check your personal profiles for tagged or uploaded materials that might be deemed unprofessional or offensive to a future employer. 

Master Your Interview

Being the best candidate on paper is one thing. But the next hurdle is giving a great interview. Be punctual—the care you give to being on time for your interview informs your future employer how likely you’ll be to show up to work on time. 

And if you need additional interview practice, head to the OCD for some hands-on experience. 

Know Your Target

It’s more than just flattery—having working knowledge of the company to which you’re applying reflects positively on your hunger for the internship position. Do your homework, and take a look at the company’s website, as well as the surrounding industry as a whole. Read about where their industry and company are going in the near future so that you’re able to show a degree of expertise in your interview.

Emphasize Your Uniqueness

Many open positions will ask for the same materials—but that doesn’t always mean you can’t separate yourself from the pack with some uniqueness. If an employer asks for work samples, consider displaying it in a unique way through a video or digital presentation. Personalize your résumé and cover letter based on the individual employer—this shows you’re not simply blanketing the entire internship market with applications but are rather applying to the ones you’re most invested in.

Make Your Own Opportunities

Not all internships are born out of existing open positions. Sometimes approaching companies or organizations you’re most passionate about can create opportunities you didn’t know existed. Consider sending a query letter—essentially an open-ended cover letter—offering your time and skills as an intern, freelancer or even volunteer. 

Follow Up

It can sometimes feel like your applications are lost in a vacuum while you wait for responses. The truth is, you won’t get a response from every application you submit. But one way to keep the conversation going and give you peace of mind is to follow up with your future employers. Send a brief message or leave a voicemail thanking an interviewer for their time, and it just might spur a more immediate response.

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