One of the most exciting (and daunting) things about college is the opportunity of getting "the internship." Whether you plan on landing multiple or just one during your college career, even imagining walking through city streets or a professional office with your clean-cut attire and perfectly reviewed resume in tow while also impressing all of the right people really fuels the hardworking student in you every day. This doesn't go without saying that even submitting the application can be just as scary, though.
This is exactly why I have decided to provide a list of my most helpful tips to ease your nerves about landing your next awesome internship. Personally, I am still in the midst of being in my first one in school (when I originally didn't even plan on applying for one until next school year), so I thought why not share what I did and make other people's dream come to life? You know you got it in the bag, and you just need those extra affirmations to solidify your confidence; no matter if you get the interview or not, you're always one step closer to landing your next one by reading this list.
1. Do your research beforehand
I don't know about you, but I tend to forget about this one; although you applied for the internship because you were interested in the position and/or company, it's important that you at least look through their website the night before. Knowing more about the company's mission statement and values may help you in your interview process for the better.
2. Ask for letters of recommendation from professors, bosses, etc.
This may not be a requirement for most internship applications, but keeping multiple recommendation letters handy will help save you a lot of time later on. Just ask professors that have to do with your field and bosses to provide a generic recommendation letter for future applications (and be honest with them about this part), and you'll already be ahead of the curve. Plus, this will partially fulfill the "references available upon request" featured already on your resume. It's a win-win!
3. Go the extra mile
I have to admit that I'm one of the people who always get ready earlier and do more "just in case," but it honestly can pay off in big ways. Making extra copies of your resume and cover letter or even leaving way earlier than you need to to get to the interview can really come in handy. For something that's as important as landing an internship, it is definitely better to be safe than sorry.
4. Avoid the color red
Okay, so this one is a bit peculiar but all the more relevant. My public speaking professor made a point to tell our class my first semester to avoid red clothing, jewelry and nail polish when going to a first interview because it can seriously turn off employers about the kind of person you are. Of course, you should never judge a book by its cover (or color in this case), but when it comes to the big stuff, it's kind of hard not to do so.
5. Prepare to talk highly (and lowly) about yourself
It is almost guaranteed that some of the questions the interviewer or application will ask you will have to do with your best and worst qualities about yourself as well as why you think you're qualified for the position. While this may seem easy at first (hell, you applied for the internship in the first place), this can be one of the hardest things to do because you're thinking about your best and worst attributes while trying to make yourself look like the absolute best candidate. The best way to go about this is to practice answering these questions on paper and really think hard about answering them well. Practice makes perfect!
6. Come up with questions you may have for the interview
At the end of every interview, it's most likely that the interviewer will ask if you have any questions for them in return. From doing my own research and experience, it is really important to at least have one prepared so it shows them that you really care about getting the opportunity to intern for them. Here's one that I think is perfect for an interview: "What have previous interns done to succeed in this position?" And isn't this a GREAT one?!- thanks, Allison Bickerstaff!
7. Make a timed plan for the day of the interview
If you're a crazy organized freak like me, you love to get everything prepared beforehand. The day or night before the interview, make a list of what you have to do before you actually make your way to their office (like eating breakfast, getting dressed, doing makeup and hair, etc.) and then plan how much time is realistically required for each. Calculate the amount of time it takes to get to their office (and add at least 15 extra minutes for traffic and earliness) and then you can make a timed schedule for the day of. Voila!
8. Consider making an online or physical portfolio
Going back to going the extra mile, recruiters love to see what you're spending your free time doing; why not include making a portfolio of your past work? Whether it's a Wix.com site or a binder filled with hardcopy documents, showcasing the time you put into making a culmination of your efforts already makes you stand out from the crowd in a BIG way. From aspiring teachers providing their custom lesson plans to public relations students featuring their PR plans from in-class projects, a portfolio will not only intrigue the recruiters but make you feel even better about yourself; honestly, how cool is that?
9. Listen to motivational podcasts or inspirational music on the way to the interview
This is another tip from Allison Bickerstaff but it is a game changer. Just like gearing up for a serious workout session or getting ready for a night on the town with your BFFs, you need music or something to listen to make sure you're in the right mood to enjoy yourself and be your best. This also goes for an important interview; make a playlist of the songs that make you feel like you can do anything (the ones that just came to mind are the kind of ones you're looking for) or even a podcast that makes you laugh or has to do with your field of expertise can ease your nerves and make you feel super good right before you walk into that door. A healthy mindset is just as important as looking your best, so definitely keep this tip in mind.
10. Be yourself!
This is a super cliché but it's nevertheless true. You may think that you have to be like everyone else who landed the same internship before to land it now, but what's going to make you stand out from the crowd is a smile and authentically answering any question that'll be thrown at you. Remember to smile and be completely honest with them, and let the rest fall into place. You got this!