As I started applying for internships for the summer, I found myself not really knowing where to start. But a few weeks later, I got an email for one of the programs I applied to and never expected a response from. Here is how I landed an internship after my first year of college and got a head start on some great professional experience!
It was around 10 PM one night in my dorm when I realized the application due date for the Ohio Third Frontier Diversity & Inclusion Technology Internship Program was quickly approaching. Now, I'm a psychology major with no technology experience. Nonetheless, I figured there was no harm in trying and hammered out the application before the midnight deadline.
I applied and submitted my resume, knew that I probably wouldn't get a position with my lack of technological experience, and continued to look for any other opportunities. Two weeks later, I got an email from the program saying that my application and resume had been matched with an employer, a car accessories provider.
After the interviewing process, I became their Human Resources Intern and I couldn't be happier with my decision to accept the position! Here are some of the things that helped me with the application, interview process, and getting an internship the summer after your freshman year or anytime in college.
1. Apply to any opportunity that comes your way
If you have the time and energy outside of college and/or your job, I encourage you to spend some of your free time looking for new opportunities that come your way. If the position looks legit and enjoyable to you, I say go for it!
With the Ohio Third Frontier Diversity and Inclusion Technology Internship Program, I initially found about it from an email that I received from one of my student organization advisors. If I hadn't paid attention to my email that day or didn't apply because of my lack of experience in the technology field, I wouldn't have received the position I am in today.
It's all about taking advantage of the opportunities that fall into your lap and being involved in organizations that can lead you to those opportunities. Now, if you apply to different opportunities, internships, or jobs, it's incredibly crucial that you respond to offers and interview requests that come your way.
For me to take this internship, I had to reject a summer camp organization and another match offer with a different company. To continue having a good relationship with the different groups that reply to your application, it's important to leave those doors open by responding in a respectful manner. Many internships are looking for upperclassmen college students, but you will miss the shots you don't take! You might be the ideal candidate for an internship without even knowing it.
In my experience, I applied for an internship centered around psychology research at Duke University. I was ecstatic about getting the chance to do research at Duke University and asked one of my professors to be a reference if I got to the second round of the application process.
But, with a highly competitive application pool with around six hundred applicants, I was a bit let down when I got the rejection email. But by looking into the possible opportunities that came my way, I picked myself up and continued to apply and edit my resume. Now I'm three weeks into my Human Resources Internship and learning so much! Be open-minded about the opportunities that come your way and maybe you'll find the perfect internship for you.
2. Look for potential connections with alumni or staff
This was probably the hardest part of obtaining an internship over the summer. Although I was pleased with the professors I had throughout my first year, I realized I never really saw them in person (because of obvious reasons) and barely knew them personally because of how many of my classes were built around lectures.
Hopefully, building relationships with professors will be easier for us college students in the upcoming semester and year. These relationships with staff, professors, organization advisors, and alumni can lead to a possible connection to an internship or research opportunity.
Going to office hours and staying back after class to ask any questions you might have maybe the step between you and a professional opportunity in college! Here are some tips for building a strong relationship with a professor.
3. Build your resume and ensure that it is ready for review
The resume that I currently use now must have taken me a few days to complete while juggling my classes, organizations, and meetings at college. When I had my career advisor take a look at it, he was impressed and said that most freshmen didn't have as detailed resumes as I did. I was genuinely shocked as my resume was just in the standard format and polished until I couldn't look at it anymore.
Your resume might be the most important aspect of your application process. Not only does it give the employer their first look into your accomplishments and skills, but it also gives them the first look into who you are as a person. Your resume is a reflection of you before your interview, so make sure it's organized and polished frequently!
If you have an unorganized resume, in their eyes, that might reflect on your character and the way you handle tasks as a part of their company. As a Human Resources Intern now, I recognize even more how important resumes are in the recruiting process. I encourage you to review your resume with your career advisor, a professor, or even a past employer.
4. Bring your A-game to your interview
You landed yourself an interview! What now? When I say I was nervous about my internship interview, I mean it. My roommate was probably wondering if I was going to run out of our dorm and do a lap around the building just to get my anxiety out of my system. But once I was talking to my now supervisor though, I realized there was almost nothing to be scared of.
Of course, it's natural to be nervous for an interview of any kind, but the fact that it was a phone interview helped my confidence. Regardless of your interview being in-person or through the phone, confidence is absolutely key. One of the most important pieces of advice, in my opinion, is keeping the conversation professional rather than personal. Make sure that what you are saying holds you in a good, professional light instead of a more casual one.
Make sure you prepare questions in advance for your interviewer! I have to say, the most awkward part of the interviews that I have been through has been answering the "Do you have any questions?" part of the interview. Because even though I have so many questions, I almost always said "Um, no! I don't think so!" but the interviewer could always tell I was hesitant.
Always come prepared with questions, answers about your past experiences and jobs, and your resume. Here are some tips about appearing confident in an interview.
When I was applying to internships, some of my friends and family gave me a look, wondering why I was trying to get an internship after my freshman year of college. But I think for me personally, it was one of the best decisions I could make. Not only am I moving away and getting different experiences from the fast-casual restaurant that I worked at since I was 16, but I also continue to learn how important learning new skills is.
You don't have to get started right away, but I think you have to reach out, explore new experiences, and keep applying to different positions! Resilience and persistence were the true keys to obtaining my internship and they continue to help me throughout my daily tasks. I encourage you to start doing your research right away, especially after your first year of college. The experiences you gain early on will be your foundation for your goals in the future and give you many open paths to choose from!
If you didn't apply for an internship after your first year or got rejected during an application process, there is truly nothing to worry about. The main point of this article is that learning how to be confident in your professional abilities is a process and it can start with getting an internship.
But this foundation can be started in so many other ways, like getting a job, being a volunteer, or being more involved in a student organization. Also, sometimes getting more rest during summer break is more beneficial than working 30+ hours a week. It all depends on the balance you find necessary in your life to have and finding what you enjoy!