Most professors will tell you that it’s critical to having at least one internship before you complete your degree. Most students ask themselves, how am I going to land that internship without any real-world experience?
I’ve been there, and asked myself that same question. So let’s dive into my suggestions and get your career rolling!
Look at anything and everything you do as potential experience.
Campus involvement, volunteer work, and yes, even your part-time job as a cashier/waiter/lifeguard is considered experience.
You would be surprised at how interested employers are in these types of roles, and sometimes even the name of the company or organization you were involved with could spark a connection. I had a successful interview at a marketing firm when the CEO saw Chick-fil-A on my resume. Turned out one of her clients worked for Chick-fil-A. Even a small, indirect connection like that worked in my favor because I ultimately landed the role.
Another perfect example is when I randomly came across a job posting at company located across the country. I figured I would never hear from them. Since they only asked for a resume, I decided to pass it along anyway. The owner of that company happened to attend the same university in Ohio as me! Imagine that.
My point is, never be discouraged by what’s on your resume (or lack thereof). You never know how somebody else is going to perceive it.
Take a good look at the description of the internship and qualifications expected, and understand what the employer is truly looking for.
Many internships out there that will ask for “previous internship experience.” But what most students fail to see is the word that comes after it. “Preferred.” That means that the employer isn’t really expecting you to have internship experience, but they’re hoping to eliminate too many people from applying for the position.
As long as you have experience to put on your resume, and can incorporate skill sets that they want into that experience, then you are branding yourself well. For example, if the job description is asking for time management skills, you could argue that you worked two part-time jobs while maintaining good grades, and building meaningful relationships with your professors.
Perfect that resume. After all, it’s what will get you the interview before anything else.
Your resume is the first impression an employer will have of you. That doesn’t seem fair, but it’s become a fact of life in today’s competitive job market. I’ll summarize what I factors have worked best for me:
Format. Make your resume easy to read and let the information flow. I recommend putting it in this order: Name, Contact Info, Education, and Relative Work Experience.
Consistency. Use the same fonts, use the same font size for headers and a slightly smaller font size for bullet points, and use a solid black color for a professional look.
- Content. Use action verbs when possible. Focus on your accomplishments instead of simply describing a role you held. Use numbers as concrete proof of your accomplishments.
- Representation. Remember that this resume represents the best version of you. Don’t ruin a potential interview because of minor grammar mistakes!
Research, research, research.
I’ve always researched every company I’ve applied for. It could save you time because let’s say you find a job that sounds really fascinating but the company’s mission bores you to tears. Don’t waste your time or their time scheduling an interview if you don’t feel passion for what they do.
Also, don’t walk into a company interview having no idea what they do, who they serve, or what they look for in an employee. More than likely, their interview questions will revolve around those factors so come in prepared.
I can’t promise you that any of these tips will help you find an internship. But I wish I had this information when I was looking for one!