You know how important it is to have internships during your college years. And if you haven’t already lined something up, there is still a bit of time—provided you’re not completely consumed with studying for finals at the expense of conducting a search!
If you do these three things, at the very least, you’ll give yourself a fighting chance to land an internship.
- Link your interest to a field. You may be young and unsure of what you want to do for work, but you need to start somewhere, and the more specific you are the better. Once you know your field of interest, you can ask friends and contacts if they know anyone who works in that field, and if you can speak with them.
- Write a cover letter that resonates. Most people – of all experience levels–write really bad cover letters. If you can write one that focuses on what you can do for an organization, instead of what it can do for you, you will automatically stand out. Think about 3 skills you bring to the table and use bullet points separated from the main paragraphs, for ease of reading. Avoid saying things like, “I feel confident I can make a valuable contribution to your organization”—when you don’t actually have any idea whether that’s the case and chances are, since you’re just starting out, you can’t.
- Find someone at the organization you can speak with. I assume you have a LinkedIn profile. If not, that’s the first step. LinkedIn is a goldmine of contacts, and once you’ve identified organizations of interest, you can find someone who works there who will, hopefully, be willing to speak with you. They could be an alumnus of your school or in the same fraternity, or just a good ambassador (and maybe even paid) of the company. You are much more likely to score an interview if you can get someone from inside to help.
Once you get an interview, be ready to tell some stories about how you’ve been successful in the past. This style of interviewing, known as behavioral interviewing, lets the interviewer get a sense of how you’ve handled situations in the past as an indicator of how you’ll work in the future. To prepare, write several stories detailing accomplishments you feel proud of. The more detailed you can be in your stories, the better you’ll be at sharing them in a confident, animated way in an interview. If these accomplishments are outside of work, that’s okay, as long as they say something about a skill you’ll be using at work.
Whatever you do, be sure to have someone you trust listen to your story and review your cover letter before you hit send. I will publish some examples of good cover letters from time to time, so stay tuned!
New Workshop for NYU Recent Alumni Network:
Join me next week for an animated, informative, truth-telling session on nailing down your career. Learn how to use your strengths and interests to brand yourself for hire, and connect school and work in a more structured fashion.
May 7, 2014
NYU Wasserman Center