I feel like I’m so basic when I talk or complain about the weather, but omg this “spring” weather has been bananas. It snowed Monday morning and then by noon was sunny and looked as if nothing happened. It rained yesterday and its supposed to rain today and the weather has been pretty chilly although today is supposed to hit the 60s. I feel as if winter started last month and the point is I’m just so ready for warmer weather!!
Yesterday I mentioned that I love talking about internships and all things career related on the blog. At my previous job I interviewed so many students who wanted to intern for the magazine. I’ve seen the good, the bad and the eh. But, funny enough when I was in college, I couldn’t get my foot in the door and every magazine application I put through went unanswered. So I’ve learned a thing or two from my experience and today I wanted to share with you my internship tips and tricks, and what you’re probably doing wrong when applying for an internship and this can definitely apply to your job search as well!
INTERNSHIP TIPS & TRICKS
YOU’RE NOT PROOFREADING EVERYTHING!
Seriously the most simple and basic advice. You’re probably reading this and thinking “duhhhh.” But, you would be so surprised how many people have typos, bad grammar and random spaces, indentations and paragraphs in their resume and cover letters.
Just make sure you go through all your documents with a fine tooth comb. Ask others to look at it to at least see if it makes sense or if anything is off. And read your cover letter out loud to yourself. Sometimes inspiration strikes and you just write and write and the finished product doesn’t make sense.
Getting your foot in the door is tough so don’t eliminate yourself just because of something as silly as a typo or grammatical error because believe me when there are 101 resumes, small things like that count!
REMEMBER, NO ONE OWES YOU ANYTHING
Yes, an internship is about gaining work experience and it should be a major learning experience for you. But, for the company, it’s also some much needed help in certain departments. The company gets help and you get experience and something to add to your resume.
So remember, no one owes you anything. You don’t have to be here because there is a line out the door of people who want to be here. Sounds harsh? Well I’m trying to give you some tough love because the road to breaking into any industry is tough!!
When I was hiring interns, I once got an email saying this person would be available twice a week for about two to four hours. What? The time it would take to invest in this person by training them and getting them situated would be the entire internship. And for summer interns it’s a different ball game especially if you’re not taking summer classes. Priority was given to those who could commit five full days. There were interns that wanted Friday off or to work only two or three days or wanted to leave early and do xyz and that’s fine. That’s totally fine. Do you, but just keep in mind that someone out there is willing to put in the work and willing to commit those hours.
My experience is coming from the magazine world which is so intense so every company and field is different so I don’t want to tell you that taking Friday off is bad because it’s not. What I am saying is, training someone takes a while and getting someone situated in a role takes a while. And as an employee we want to be able to trust, rely and go to interns with tasks which is why having someone Monday through Friday who is there to help and knows the ropes is amazing. And hello, internships are about learning. Internships are so short, you blink and it’s done so you should want to get the most out of your experience.
And just remember an internship your senior year and your freshmen year should be treated differently. If you’re a senior or looking for a job then you need to work harder and better to really stand out. When I interned, I worked with another recent college grad and honestly I did treat it like friendly competition. I put in the hours, the work, I helped everyone and it didn’t go unnoticed because I was eventually hired on full time.
YOU SOUND TOO CLICHE
Yep, there I said it. Being able to multi task and being a hard worker isn’t a unique characteristic. Oh did you start a Her Campus chapter or was a part of one? Actually me too, I started a chapter at my school and spoiler alert, many others have too. Are you a leader in your sorority? That’s great, but again a dime a dozen. That’s not to say that those aren’t achievements because they are and you should include them and talk about them, but don’t rely heavily on them.
Be your biggest fan, talk about yourself and share why you think you would be a great person for a position. To let you in on a little secret, my go-to when I have to talk about myself, I always talk about my smile and positivity. Sounds silly, but I’m being totally serious. At every internship and job I’ve had even ones where my bosses didn’t like me, they all still commended me about constantly smiling and being positive in situations. So sure, being a team player is cliche, but I’m a team player because I stay positive and try to motivate and help my team in those busy and tough times rather than getting caught up in the stress.
So say goodbye to all those work cliches you think you should use and just be yourself. I guarantee you can make any trait about yourself positive. Are you a big party girl and are the life of the party? I mean don’t specifically say that, but you could say you make any situation fun. Regardless of how small or big a task is, you like to make the most out of it, give it your all and have fun in what you’re doing.
YOU’RE RELYING TOO MUCH ON YOUR RESUME AND NOT ENOUGH ON YOUR COVER LETTER
Your role as a resident assistant, honor student and whatever job or internship you’ve had in the past is great. List it on your resume and be proud, but don’t just rely on your resume. I’ve seen people with amazing resumes with so much experience and with some great companies only to meet them and be disappointed because the interview sucked and they had no personality and worse hiring someone with a good resume and them coming in being completely useless.
So don’t rely just on your resume and let your personality show in your cover letter. I once read a cover letter by this girl whose only experience was being a waitress at a restaurant and she was applying for an internship at a magazine. But, the reason she stood out to me and the reason I hired her was because she said working in a restaurant helped her learn how to work under pressure, multi task and interact with different people which would help her in the fashion closet. I just love that she applied for a fashion internship and took her experience that had nothing to do with the industry and spun it in her favor. I also once interviewed this girl and asked her what her favorite designer was. I was annoyed because all day I had heard the cliche Chanel response, but this one was honest and said she wasn’t too familiar with designers, but she loved denim and these were here favorite brands. LOVED THAT. She took a question she couldn’t answer and spun it to her favor and made the most out of that question.
Cover letters suck to write. I get it. It’s seriously such a burden, but you have to look at it as a way to let yourself shine. Make the most out of it and get creative when making those negatives a positive and get creative when you talk about what you’ve learned from your past experiences because that’s what really helps people stand out.
YOU’RE APPLYING JUST TO APPLY
I understand the stressful rat race applying for an internship feels like. You just so badly want to land one and get your foot in the door so you send out damn near a hundred applications. You seriously want anything! But, do you really? Cause the answer is probably no.
Don’t apply for a internship just to apply. Make sure you’re taking time to research the company and read the job description and even seen if there are any blogs talking about their experience in a specific field. When I was looking for an internship, I had applied and landed an internship with a wholesale jewelry company in their sales department. I was so excited someone finally said yes to me, but after hearing more about it, I knew it wasn’t what I wanted and had I took the time to read the job description, I wouldn’t have applied. When I instead got my yes from a PR company, I knew that was more up my alley.
I had a girl in my internship group quit over the phone with no notice one morning about a month in because she said this wasn’t what she wanted to do. Even when I worked for a magazine, I had a few people come in and want to write and pitch stories. That’s great and all, but wrong department. The fashion department was more so working with PR companies and working amongst samples, not working on stories. So do your research and read those descriptions.
As badly as you want an internship, you know when it’s not right and when you won’t like something so don’t put yourself and the company through that and unnecessarily burn bridges if you don’t have to.
YOU’RE TOO PICKY
Working in fashion, I can’t tell you how many people say, oh I want to intern at Gucci or Louis Vuitton and Chanel because those are my favorite brands. And that’s great, you should aspire to that and you should want that, but you should also remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. So cliche, but it’s the only thing that made sense!
People want to work for brands that they know and what they feel comfortable with. Especially as a college student or recent grad, there’s that added pressure of wanting to work for a great, well-known brand so you can show off, but it’s not always realistic or the best option.
I interned for a small PR company that no one has heard of, but because of that experience, I went on to work for some amazing, well-known companies. And because the company was small, I was really able to stand out, make my mark and take on a lot of responsibility. If you work for those bigger, well-known brands, they already have their systems and routines in place so they don’t need you to stand out and be a leader, which is a serious missed opportunity.
What I’m saying is, be open to all brands and opportunities because that small unknown one may be the place you make your mark and learn some great skills and meet some great people. So don’t be snotty and only want to work for your favorite brands, keep an open mind!
I hope you enjoyed todays internship tips and tricks post and found it helpful! I really enjoy talking all things internship and careers because I was so lost when I was looking for an internship so if I could be that helping hand for you then that makes me so happy.
Thanks so much for reading!