If you are in college, you have probably already acquired an internship, have been looking for an internship, are preparing for an interview, or thinking about getting started. And if you haven't done any of these, you are probably going to do so soon.
This time in your life can be nerve-racking and super different from what you're used to. This is not like your fast-food or retail customer service job, this is a position to prepare you for what you plan to do for the rest of your life, your career. It is okay to be nervous, but I am here to share some tips that helped me through the entire process: from the search, to the interviews, to the denials, and all the way to finally acquiring a position.
The search can be the most intimidating part. There are so many HUGE positions out there at larger companies, like Under Armour. When I tell you I looked high and low for about 15 weeks, I am not kidding. My search began last summer and didn't really end until November of last year. I applied to huge companies like Under Armour, and to smaller more local companies near my school as well.
Do not panic. Searching and applying to internships can be tedious, so start early. Also, utilize your resources! Go to your school's career center, prepare your references ahead of time, and make sure you are personalizing your cover letters to each company/hiring manager. If you can help it, make sure you address the hiring manager by name and not job title.
After a couple of weeks of applying online via websites like Linkedin and the internship/career website my university's career center provides, I started receiving emails to schedule phone interviews. I was so excited; this could mean the search is over! I was always sure to be as prompt as possible replying to the emails my potential employers were sending.
It is so important to market yourself well, and being prompt is a good start.
After a few phone interviews, I was told I would be emailed back whether I had gotten the position or not, or if the employer wanted to hold an in-person interview or not. Needless to say, my excitement for phone interviews ceased because they provided me with zero answers. It was time to play the waiting game.
I was sure to continue marketing myself well with the phone interviews. I wrote down a list of skills I possess and activities I partake in that could make me a good asset to each company I was interviewing for. That way, I could talk about them in each interview.
A few weeks passed and the emails started to flow in. Unfortunately, a lot of denials. "Sorry Meghan, we had a competitive pool of applicant and we regret to inform you, but we could not give you this position. Good luck with your future endeavors and we hope you apply again next semester, blah blah blah." Needless to say, it sucked and I was salty because I just got let down on some awesome opportunities.
But I did not give up, and that is the key to all of this!
After getting denied to a few places, I went ahead and applied to some more opportunities that weren't at the top of my dream internship list. You will learn that most times you won't get in with your top choice, but what really matters in this search is finding somewhere that will provide you with the experience you need and/or give you college credit. This is only the beginning of your career and right now it is about swallowing your pride and working your way up.
Finally, after a second round of applying and interviewing, I GOT AN OFFER.
I was finally patient and it paid off.
I was hired with a company that is a 20-minute drive from my apartment. They pay me enough that I was able to buy and afford my first car, and they worked closely with me on setting up a schedule that works with my class schedule. It was far from where I imagined I would be when I first started searching, but I am proud of myself for swallowing my pride, being patient, and finally acquiring a position at my first internship.
If you are anywhere in your internship search, please remember some of my tips. The three biggest keys of them all are to be patient, do not get your hopes too high, and market your skills and activities to the best of your ability on your resume, cover letter, and in your interviews.