Being a young adult is bizarre, to say the least. One day I feel like a kid, waking up at noon or microwaving mac and cheese for lunch, while the next day I am caught in full adult mode, waking up at 7 A.M. and catching the train to the city.
The more I think about it, teenagers and young adults almost live a double life. Perhaps this is why it can be difficult to secure jobs and internships. Especially if we're talking about someone's very first job or internship. We're forced to find that perfect balance between a life full of minimal responsibilities and exploration and a life full of professionalism and confidence.
Sometimes, the only way to really figure out how much you love something is to try it firsthand, hence why internships are awesome experiences. But how do you secure an internship or job if you have minimal experience in a field and cannot confidently say that this said job is exactly what you want to do with your life? It is not going to be easy, but there are a few things you can do to help ease your mind.
Here are 11 tips I personally used to land my internship:
1. Do not sell yourself short.
When looking on LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Indeed, or other job board sites, you may be able to see which jobs are high in demand. In other words, you can see how many people have already applied. Don't let high numbers discourage you! Also, don't let huge company names scare you. Google? Johnson and Johnson? BuzzFeed? You may think you should aim smaller, but why should you? Go for it.
2. Perfect your resume.
These people are taking a quick glance at your resume, so make sure the most important points stand out. Be sure to check it over yourself for typos or grammar mistakes, and don't forget to have someone else look at it as well.
3. Do your research.
The amount of job/internship postings can be super overwhelming. And you don't want to waste your time applying to every opening you see. Instead, research the companies before you apply. Another thing to note is if you research the job description and don't feel excited by the opportunity, maybe it's not for you.
4. Ask around.
Whether it be in person or on a site like LinkedIn, connect with others in the same boat as you! Or, talk to others who have interned or worked at some of your potential options. Some jobs may sound great on paper, but talking to someone who has experienced the job or company firsthand can be more helpful (and truthful).
5. Apply to a handful of places.
Like I said, you don't want to apply to every opening you can find, but you should have some backup plans, almost like when you applied to colleges. While you should make sure you are excited about all of the places you apply to, you should also apply to companies of different sizes.
6. Be wary of certain sites and postings.
Believe it or not, some companies will post job descriptions that make a job or internship sound better than it actually is. A little while back, I interviewed with a company and was told exactly what I'd be doing each day. Let me just say it did not correspond with their job posting or my major, which was super weird. Next!
7. Apply and communicate promptly.
Before you apply, make sure the company is still accepting applications. If you apply and do not hear back, you can follow up via email a few weeks or so later. If a company reaches out to you to schedule an interview, make sure you respond as soon as you can, but keep in mind office hours are genuinely 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. so you'll most likely want to call or email them back between those times.
8. Do more research.
Almost every college or university has a page on its website with career information. Sometimes they'll list some tips for landing internships or even list the companies that have accepted former students. For example, Penn State's College of Communications has a student resource tab with information on upcoming job fairs and a link to a database with authorized internship sites.
Also, certain websites like Glassdoor will show you ratings and reviews written by former or current employees at a company.
It's definitely a red flag when all the employees tell you to stay away (which I have seen before!)
9. Crush that interview.
Once you start hearing back from places, they'll want to set up interviews with you. This is a huge step and as long as you are prepared, the rest will follow naturally. Make sure you research some common interview questions, review your resume, bring an extra copy of your resume or cover letter, and make a list of any questions you may have.
10. Listen to your gut.
For some people, the hardest part of the entire process may come down to choosing between two different jobs or internships. Even if both opportunities seem impossible to pass up, make a list of pros and cons. From there, the only thing left to do is listen to your gut.
11. Make the most of it.
Even if you follow all of these tips and more, sometimes, things will not go according to plan. Perhaps the job that was closer in location, or the position that paid better, fell through. Or, maybe you seized an opportunity that will pay off more in the long run. Whatever the case may be, you land every job or internship for a reason. Make sure you make the most of your experiences.