Snag Your First Internship Like A Pro
Updated: 4 days ago
Congratulations on your interest in pursuing an internship! Internships are a fantastic way to gain valuable experience and build your skills in your chosen field, plus it never looks bad on your resume! In this guide, we'll walk through the basics you need to know about applying for, interviewing, and landing your first internship.
Why Pursue an Internship?
Gain valuable experience: Internships provide hands-on experience in your chosen field and help you develop practical skills that you can use in your future career.
Networking opportunities: Internships are a great way to meet professionals in your field and make connections that can help you in your future job search. I'm sure you have heard the phrase, "It's not about what you know, it's WHO you know." Start building your network now. Maybe you love your internship and the company and want to work there after you graduate. Maybe someone you worked with during your internship now works at your dream company! You never know. Take time to not only to do good work, but also to build strong relationships.
Explore different career options: Internships can help you determine if a certain career path is right for you before you commit to it. Look, my internship was for General Electric as a data scientist back in 2016. Today, I am a practicing family law attorney. You may not end up even remotely close to the field you intern in, but it can help your broaden your horizons. Also, sometimes learning during an internship that the field you thought you wanted to be in, is not a good fit for you after all. It happened to me, and I do not regret a single second of my internship.
Build your resume: An internship can help you build your resume and demonstrate your commitment to your field to future employers.
The Internship Application Process:
Research: Start by researching companies and organizations that offer internships in your field. Look for internships that match your skills, interests, and goals. Get creative! Try to find companies that you believe in their values and mission. Find internship roles that sound interesting and challenging. Think outside the box. Now is the time to explore your passions and talents. Your college most likely has resources to help you, take advantage of that!
Apply: Once you've found an internship you're interested in, make sure you submit a complete and well-written application. This should include a resume and cover letter that highlights your relevant skills and experiences. Use your cover letter to shine! Most people do not spend time and energy on their cover letter, and instead use some default script they found online or from a friend. Take time to think about your "WHY." Explain in the cover letter why you want the internship and why they should choose you. Get personal. Be creative. Stand out. Finally, before you hit "submit," have no less than three people proofread all of your application material. Don't lose out on the internship because of a simple grammatical or spelling error.
Prepare for the interview: If you're invited to interview for an internship, it's important to prepare for the interview just as you would for any other job. This means researching the company and the role, practicing your answers to common interview questions, and dressing professionally. And yes, actually practice answering interview questions aloud. Don't "wing it." Many people feel that preparation for an interview is unnecessary because the questions are about them. This is not a good strategy. Yes, the questions are about YOU, but in order to present the best possible version of yourself, you need to practice how to do that.
The Internship Interview:
Be confident and pleasant: When you arrive for the interview, smile, make eye contact, and shake hands with the interviewer. They want to see that you're friendly, confident, and professional. And don't forget to be kind and polite to every single person you interact with from the lobby to the interview room. Make small talk with the receptionist or anyone you encounter. You never know who will have a say in the selection process.
Be respectful: Make sure you listen carefully to each question. Take a deep breath and give a direct and concise answer to the question asked. Make sure not to interrupt your interviewer and to keep strong eye contact while listening and answering.
Be truthful: If you don't know the answer to a question, it's better to admit it and show that you're willing to learn than to try to make something up. Do not inflate your skills or experience. Listen, you are young. You may not have a ton of professional experience, but you do have life experience. Lean into your skills and experiences. You babysat growing up? Great, you have compassion, patience, and perseverance. You organized a charity fundraiser? Awesome, you are civic-minded and take initiative. I promise, you have done more relevant work than you think. That's why it's so important to prepare in advance so you can properly demonstrate those things during your interview.
Highlight your relevant skills and experiences: Make sure you talk about your skills and experiences that are relevant to the internship. Again, this is the time to frame any work and life experiences to showcase that you can and will do the job.
Ask questions: It's important to ask questions during the interview, as this shows that you're interested in the internship and the company. Prepare a few questions ahead of time so you're ready to ask them. Personally, I like to have three questions pre-planned. Then, I always bring a notepad and take notes throughout the interview as new questions pop up.
You Landed the Internship - Here's How to be Successful:
Be proactive: Take the initiative to learn as much as you can during your internship. Offer to take on additional responsibilities, ask questions, and seek out opportunities to gain new experiences.
Be a team player: Make sure you work well with your team and colleagues. This will help you build strong relationships and make a positive impact on the company.
Take advantage of feedback: Use feedback from your supervisor to improve your skills and performance. This will help you get the most out of your internship and make a positive impression on your future employers.
Stay organized: Make sure you keep track of your responsibilities, deadlines, and tasks. This will help you stay on top of your workload and make the most of your internship.
In conclusion, internships are a valuable opportunity to gain experience, build skills, and make connections in your field. The process of applying for and interviewing for an internship may seem daunting, but with some research and preparation, you will be successful!
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