The idea of applying to graduate school or applying to a job in your intended field after college is a daunting experience. In an applicant pool of thousands of other students who majored in the same exact thing as you, how do you set yourself apart from everyone else?
The skills and knowledge you learn in a classroom setting can only help you so much unless you actually apply everything you have learned outside of the classroom. Clubs and organizations are a great way to find groups of individuals who are seeking the same experiences you are, but the most supplemental way to make the best out of everything you have learned and stand out as an applicant is to get an internship.
Internships are honestly a part of the college experience, and having an amazing internship can change your life for the better in ways you never would have imagined possible. An internship can open more doors for opportunities related in your desired field, you can network among individuals who can mentor and guide you, and sometimes, you meet people who will be a part of your life for a really long time.
I am going to be blunt here, the process of securing a great internship can be difficult at times; it can especially be more difficult if you have zero experience correlating in that field. Take it from someone who changed their major from the different side of the spectrum—biology to English—and the only professional experience I had was being a co-manager at a retail store.
I cannot begin to tell you how many internships I applied to in content creating, editing, or research opportunities, only to be flat our rejected or never even hear back from. My favorite rejection e-mail was from a publishing agency questioning why I even bothered to apply with the little experience I had and commented plentiful on the science courses I had taken, practically mocking me. I am not being dramatic when I say for an entire two semesters—summer and fall—that I applied over and over again only to be continuously rejected as my peers were securing some of the coolest internships locally and out-of-state.
It is exhausting to constantly feel defeated every time you receive an e-mail along the lines of "Thank you for applying to our company for this desired internship position. Unfortunately, …" You put out the best version of yourself and it's hard not taking it personally. Despite all the rejection emails you might receive, no matter how defeated you may feel, I can promise you that eventually, someone is going to look at your application and really see the potential you possess and take that opportunity to hire you onto their team.
For every rejection e-mail I received, I kept telling myself "this is a blessing in disguise." I will admit, there were periods of time that got the best of me and I stopped applying as frequently as I usually did, but I never genuinely stopped applying. After two semesters of continuously applying, I finally received a paid internship that was willing to work alongside my school schedule, and this opportunity was better than any other internship I applied for in the past combined. Someone finally took a chance with me and all the months of rejections leading up to this point were worth it.
1. Apply as early as internships allow you.
The earlier you apply, the faster you will hear a response.
2. Apply to positions even if you're under-qualified.
Take a chance and never settle. Sometimes, companies are willing to train you even if you don't meet all the credentials they're looking for!
3. Connect unrelated experiences.
If you're like me and you have absolutely zero experience in a field you're applying to, try making connections with things you have experience with. For example, for my biology courses, I would say in interviews for internships in content creating that I have the ability to create different content on various topics and that I was very detail-oriented.
4. Apply to many internships.
Don't just apply to one and hope for the best. Apply to as many opportunities you come across because someone is bound to call you back eventually.
5. Sell yourself in your interview.
Show them the best version of yourself and what you can bring to the company. Not every company is going to be the best fit for you, but this is your time humbly brag about all the hard work you have done so own it.
The process for applying to internships can be bittersweet, but I never gave up and you shouldn't either.