Freshman year of my undergrad, my college goals were to find my interests by taking different types of classes, learn how to be successful, and start my young adult life right. Four years and a BA later, I accomplished all my goals. Well, to a degree (pun intended).
In college, I found my voice (quite literally -- I minored in music) and discovered traits I never realized I had. It was the best of times, and, when writing a paper at 4 am, it was the worst of times; it was worth every single moment.
However, as I took more classes, I came to a realization -- there are some things you simply cannot learn in a classroom without application. Admittedly, I was intimidated by the thought of applying for an internship. I was so involved on campus that I would hide behind the excuse “I don’t have the time." After a talk with my academic advisor and a swift kick in the butt from my Resident Director, I discovered I was my own obstacle. When I got over myself, I was determined to score an amazing internship.
While I was accepted to the internship of my dreams, it did not come without some hurdles. Below are some tips and takeaways from my intern experience, and I hope in some way my hot mess will lead you to brighter, successful path.
I took my time adding in all my credentials and achievements, and at the end of the day, I thought my resume was swell. So swell that I didn’t ask anyone to see look it over. OH, HOW WRONG I WAS. Turns out why I wasn’t hearing back from any companies was because my resume was as dry as toast. When I sought help at the career development center on campus, my resume game reached new heights.
Add some color to your resume. While that can be taken literally (and it should if you’re a graphic design major), you should also showcase your leadership skills with descriptive verbs and adjectives to explain your duties. This article from The Muse features some powerful action verbs that will give your resume a one-two punch in the application process.
Extreme, but still horrified.
#2 Cover Letters
While a few applications had cover letters as optional, I had the right instinct to include a cover letter anyway (fight off those lazy twinges)! When I began to write my letter though, I hit a wall; writing about myself felt...strange. My original cover letter turned out to be two pages of robotic reiteration with a minor overdose of narcissism. I needed help, AGAIN. So back to career development I went.
Your cover letter should not be a doppelganger of your resume. While it should certainly allude to your resume, your cover letter is a chance to give a concise explanation of your skills and qualifications rather than repeating directly what’s on your resume. Go more in-depth or mention something new!
Miraculously, this department was my strength but I definitely had much more to learn. While resumes and cover letters are crucial to standing out, the interview is where you will make a lasting impression. My career development center hosted mock interviews to help students practice for future interviews, which proved to be very useful. In addition to practicing before your interview, check out some of these tips I learned along the way:
- This interview is just as much as an interview for you as it is for them. There should be no reason whatsoever that you don’t ask your interviewer a question.
- Leggings are NOT professional. This one is geared mostly toward my ladies (or any leggings lover), but don't think for a second your H&M leggings and a blazer are going to fly for this interview. It's business no matter what industry you're in so dress like you want to be taken seriously.
- Get comfortable, but not too comfortable. Don't start cursing during side conversation or small talk. You'd think this was common sense, but my potty-mouthed best friend made this mistake! It is unprofessional, and your interviewer is not your best friend.
- Send a thank you note/email. People lose job opportunities for forgetting this, seriously.
Always improve! Evaluate your strengths and challenges.
#4 The Actual Internship
This is your chance to get work and network. Not every task is something you will love but through the menial tasks, you will also have a chance to speak with others, learn the ins and outs of the industry, and, most importantly, make mistakes! There is no better time than during your internship than to ask questions and make a few mistakes. The ones I made during my internship taught me invaluable work-life lessons and helped me understand the importance of consistency and communication. My advice for those who got the internship:
- KEEP ASKING QUESTIONS! Better to ask if you’re unsure then ride along blind.
- Informationals are a must! Interviewing other people in different departments helped me understand what I would like to do in my career and what waters I rather not tread.
- Make friends with fellow interns (if you have any).
- Network my friends, Net. Work. #werk
These internships are what you make of them. Utilize your time and not only learn something but take the experience in. I did that part right, and trust me, it was one of the best decisions I made in my college career.
As a wise man once told me, "if the work is hard, do the work."
And I did.