I hear all the time, “how can i get an internship?” or “how can I apply for jobs that will look good on my resume and give me some experience now for when I graduate?”, well let me tell you. During the Recession it was so tough to get an internship for most majors ( not all) and I remember when professors and friends and coworkers at the time would tell me not to work for free. However, applying for an unpaid internship opened so many doors for me. I will always be grateful for that coworker that informed me his company was hiring interns, even though the program got cancelled the hiring manager placed me at another company she worked at previously and I was able to get some experience. Here are some of the tips I’ve gathered for taking the next step during or even sometimes after college to land an internship or job in your field.
Update your Resume
You may not have much experience yet but trust me those projects you have for school are all great applicable experiences. Use these projects to display how you work well with others, stay organized, manage meetings, meet deadlines, use certain applications ( Microsoft office suite), and many other contributions you make. Keep a copy of your resume in google docs and update as you have more experiences.
Update Your Socials
It’s so important to remove any photo that you don’t want your future employer seeing. Maybe make your profile private or un-tag yourself from those photos you can’t remember taking. Professionalism goes a long way. Update your photo to a clean professional photo. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just a clean photo where you look presentable.
Get on LinkedIn
It’s so important to update your LinkedIn. I still have friends and coworkers who have not even signed up for LinkedIn. It doesn’t matter how secure your career is, it’s always important to have an updated LinkedIn account/Professional account where people can find you. Case in point, people get married during/after college and some even disable their social media accounts. Someone may remember you from a project you had in school and would want to hire you or set up a contract with you for some assistance on a project. If they can’t remember your last name or new last name, how will they be able to find you?
Use your University Career Center
During college, i basically lived at the career center. Although, i never really found the best jobs through the career center for my field, I was able to gain a lot of insight on my resume and interviewing skills. I was always so confident that I came off confident and bubbly and it really was further from the truth. Sometimes, it’s a hard pill to swallow that we just need to practice our interviewing, communication and writing skills. There are also great resource centers where the English Ph.D students will check your resume, papers, projects for free. I highly recommend, taking advantage of these free resources in your school.
I touched on this one above, however, print out a list of 100 common interview questions online and go through each one and write out your answer with specific experiences to back up each answer. Sounds simple enough, however I can’t even count the number of times I asked these simple questions during interviews and the candidate could not answer them. I’m not saying these interview questions are great. However, you may have someone that did not get training on how to interview who just googled these questions and came in. If you are not prepared, even for the most random, annoying, pointless common interview questions, then how will you expect them to want to hire you.
Have you ever interviewed for a job ( basic entry level job) and they asked you if you had any experience. It’s okay if you don’t. However, you will always have some sort of experience related to a position. One great way to stand out is joining organizations at your school or community that are related to your field. This can be super simple organizations, but sometimes, it’s during these organizational events where you’ll run into speakers that have open internships or advice that can really help your career and career application process. There is not one event i regretted attending.
Network with your Peers, Alumni’s, Customers, Neighbors, Professors
I was one of those students that had no family in the career or major that I was studying in at the time. My father owned his own business and worked at a large corporation several decades prior however I had no direct relation to someone who could help put in a word for me. What i failed to realize was how important my professors were. One of my favorite professors asked me if I had an internship lined up and I remember conveying to her that it was hard to land an internship despite all the resumes I had handed out and preparation I had done. She gave me a phone number right then and there in her office. She said I was a lot smarter than what this internship would provide me with however, it was such a blessing to get this phone number of a place that I could start gaining some relevant work experience from. You never know how your neighbor, church friends, family friends, professors, alumni speakers or even the students in your classroom could help you now or later on down the road. People want to help so ask those you already know first and you can always ask them to refer you to people that can help you.
Be Confident, Respectful and Thankful
I remember back in college I felt like I was being so aggressive by wanting to ask professors or friends, customers, if their company was hiring. I always remembered to be respectful and I bought a large pack of simple thank you cards and send them out each time someone took time out of their day to answer some questions I had. It’s important to be respectful of people’s time. Working at several different companies now, I see that people really can’t always be useful or help me get a job immediately. This can be due to companies or departments going on a hiring freeze ( I’ve seen this last 1-2 years), minimal communication across different departments, and honestly some people are just trying to keep their jobs long enough to support their family. It’s very important to be respectful and not to reach out to alumni’s or people you have never met before asking if they can hire you. There are several articles online that show how you can show your assets to someone and explain that you can be a great benefit to their organization. The most people can do sometimes is pass your information along. It’s difficult to tell a manager of any department that you have a potential candidate for them when you don’t even know the person. So I’ll say this again, always be respectful and thankful for the time people spend with you to help you on your career path.
Research Research Research
My final point is that you should always research the companies you want to work at and research their competitors in the market, the the types of tools and programs these companies use in your field. You will always have some sort of experience you can tailor to show that you are a good asset to their organization. Asking interviewers about programs they use, different metrics and competitors in the market will show how interested and engaged you are in the position and ultimately help you stand out.
Let me know if there are any tips you have or have used to get an Internship row work towards a career path!
Best of luck!