An internship provides a unique opportunity to learn about a career, while at the same time offering valuable on the job training. A quality internship experience can give you a head start on a great job. This article gives a host of tips for snagging a great internship.
Preparation for Application
The early bird gets the internship. Start looking early so that you can apply early. If you are interested in an internship at a particular company and don’t see anything posted, approach the manager or supervisor and ask if the company has considered offering an internship opportunity. Some companies have not thought about offering such training positions. Check websites for announcements of internships. Sometimes a website is the only place internships will be posted.
Prepare yourself to apply for the internship. This suggestion might sound odd, but an internship is a chance to experience a career from both an observer’s vantage point and a professional viewpoint. Research and internship area before you decide on applying.
Frequently, an internship will lead to an offer of employment after graduation. Research enough to make sure this is the company where you would choose to work. Visit similar workplaces before making out internship applications. Ask to tour the facilities and meet with individuals holding the job you would like to make your career.
Make use of your high school or college career center. The materials they have will provide valuable information for research. This background preparation will prepare you with some of the information you will need for the actual internship. It will also ensure that you have applied for a position that fits your interests and your present background or training.
Filling Out the Application
Write a snappy letter of introduction and complete all areas of the application. Follow the exact directions. This is the first view a company will have of your skills; make sure it is your best effort.
Edit your portfolio carefully. Research and discover what portfolios in specific areas should include. Big is not always better when it comes to portfolios. Select quality material, rather than volumes of materials. The idea of the intern application portfolio is to show your potential.
Develop a quality resume. As an intern, firms will not expect a vast level of experience. Companies look instead to see that you are responsible and trustworthy. Your job experience might not directly relate to the internship, but the firm will look to see if you were on time and did the job to the best of your ability. Make sure you have references from the volunteer or paid positions listed on your resume.
Ask others to review your application materials. Ask at least three qualified people look over your resume with a critical eye for detail. Tell them you value their candid comments and to feel free to note anything that might be improved. Write thank you notes to those who make suggestions. Attempt to locate a person working in a position that relates to the internship and ask them to look over your cover letter, resume and portfolio.
Ask for recommendation letters and contact information. Brief the people listed on your resume about the nature of the internship and how your experience and training might apply. Select references who know you well, rather than people with titles.
The Internship Interview
Think about the requirements of the job prior to the interview. Determine what you would be willing to do and how many hours you expect to work each week. Think about the most important elements of the internship and how the position would prepare you for a career in the field.
Practice your interviewing skills. Write out questions from your background research and ask someone to volunteer a practice interview session. Tape your answers and listen to them a day later. Look over your research material and determine how to improve your answers.
Dress for the interview. It might be a casual and informal workplace, but the best advice is to dress for the interview as if you were a full-time professional on the way to a high profile job. Dressing up also shows that you respect the position and the company offering the internship.
Be prepared for the interview. Find the location before the day of the interview. Bring proper interviewing equipment including a pen, a pad to take notes, and a briefcase or portfolio to appear organized. On the day of the interview, make a note of the name of the person in charge of the interview and ask for that person when you arrive. Arrive early. Prompt interns are usually the ones who are offered positions.
Make sure the firm can reach you. List your phone numbers and email address, as well as snail-mail, and check them regularly. Don’t list a school email account if you don’t check it over the weekend or on holidays. Allow the firm to reach you quickly if they have questions. If you are excited about the possibilities of the internship, you will need to respond quickly and accurately when questions are asked.
The last tip, and perhaps the most important one, is to write a thank-you note, even if you are not selected for the internship. Not only is it good manners, but you never know when you might meet up with individuals in the industry. Leave a good impression with a formal thank you letter. You might apply to this firm for a future position. If someone showed you a particular courtesy during the interview process, send him or her a personal thank you note.