Getting the Perfect Internship

Photo by Erin Furman

Photo by Erin Furman

By Jessica Booth

It may seem like everyone you meet has an internship or has just finished one. It is easy to wonder how they got such a great opportunity, and it may seem difficult, but in reality getting an internship is not as difficult as you think. All it takes is a little hard work and commitment. Since getting a great internship can be one of the most important steps in furthering your career, the time it takes you to find one is well worth it.

So where do you start? All of the websites and advice thrown at you can seem daunting. You might have no idea how to start a resume or write a cover letter. Which sites will post the best internships? Is it better to send your resume in an email or by mail? But you are not alone; everyone was once in your position. “The most important thing would be to start early and to take advantage of the Internship Orientation workshop offered through the Career Center,” said Keesha Cameron, Associative Director of the Career Center. “Starting early means giving yourself enough lead time to land and secure the internship, especially if it is an internship for credit.”

Before doing any research, you need to create your resume. Cameron said, “The most important tools in getting an internship are a really strong resume and cover letter.” If you have no idea what to include, there is no need to spend money on a book you will probably use once. Hofstra offers plenty of free services that can help. There are several resume writing workshops scheduled throughout the semester that you can attend, or you can contact career services and get a counselor who can work with you privately. If you do not have time to do either of these things, you can access a printable packet from the Career Center’s website. The most important thing to remember when writing a resume is that you have to make yourself look good. List any achievements you have earned while in college, especially ones relevant to your field of study.

A cover letter and resume go hand in hand, so work on your letter while you do your resume. As with resume writing, Hofstra offers similar services on writing a good cover letter, such as scheduled workshops and a printable packet. Keep your cover letter relatively short. Employers most likely do not have the time to read something long. Your cover letter is a chance to brag about yourself a little and explain why you would be the best candidate for the internship.

Once the cover letter and resume are done, you can start your internship search. While there are hundreds of books out there that can help you search, your best bet is to look online. However, there are tons of websites out there that offer internship listings, so it may seem a little overwhelming. On the Hofstra Career Center’s site, you can find a list of websites. A Google search for internship search engines is also a good idea and can produce many results.

Looking for internships to apply for can take a long time. Do not just pick out a few that sound good and call it a day. Remember that there are students all over who are trying to get the same internship as you. Be sure to bookmark each listing that pertains to your career choice.

While searching, make sure you check all the requirements. Some companies do not want college students, some want an intern for a full-time position, and some only want people with prior experience.

When you have a long list of possibilities, you can start sending out your resume and cover letter. E-mailing employers is the way to go, and almost every company prefers e-mail. E-mail every company you find an internship listing for. Don’t be worried about getting more than one job offer because it is important to get your name out to as many places as possible.

Once this is complete, make sure to check your e-mail as much as possible. Most employers will want to set up an interview with you before they will consider hiring you. Make sure you set aside some time the few weeks following your search so you can schedule as many interviews as possible.

The interview can be the most nerve-wrecking part of the process. While you may be nervous, try not to let it show. Employers want to see someone who is calm and confident. If you show that you are confident and are the best person for the job, you will have a good chance at getting it. Check out the Career Center website for tips on interviewing, or go to the bookstore and do a little browsing. There are hundreds of books out there that list the most commonly asked questions and how to give the best answers to them. The night before the interview, make sure you have everything ready. Bring at least two copies of your resume with you, and have the answers to some more popular questions ready.

During the interview, make sure you smile a lot and answer every question clearly. Try to have some questions ready for the employer as well, because it will show that you are interested.

Once the interview is over, the hardest part is done. As soon as it is completed, start sending out thank you letters. You can find templates for thank you letters on the Career Center’s website as well. Keep them short and sweet, stating that you appreciate the employer for giving you his or her time, that you are very interested in working for their company, and that you hope to hear from them soon. A thank you letter is not required, but is a good idea. It shows the employers that you are very interested in the internship and keeps you on their minds.

After all of this preparation, the last thing you have to do is wait to hear the replies. Do not be discouraged by rejections; it happens to everyone. If you get offers from more than one company, look into each of them and decide which one would best suit your needs. Do not feel bad about declining an offer; you need to choose the internship that is best for you.

Finding an internship may seem like a long process, but the end result is well worth it. “An internship is an opportunity to test career interests without a long term commitment, so in choosing an internship make sure that it is a good fit for the things you would like to learn and do, and the kind of experience that you would like to gain,” said Cameron. Getting the internship you want will give you experience that looks great on your resume and will help you do a better job in your future career. Networking and experience are the two best parts of getting an internship. When your search is over, you should have finished it with a great internship and some great opportunities for your post-graduation future.

Published in: on January 29, 2009 at 3:51 am  Leave a Comment  

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