An internship can be a smart move that can boost your chances of landing a great job. Not only does an internship burnish your resume, but the skills, knowledge and experience you gain can provide a solid advantage over other candidates in the future.
In addition, the connections you make in your field can help throughout your career. And, internships give you a glimpse into whether the work is something you’ll want to do full time.
How to Land an Internship
Most companies are just as selective hiring interns as they are about bringing on new employees. Interns require time and effort to train and manage, so it’s important to ensure the arrangement will work out for both parties. Your employer will expect you to have applicable skills and knowledge, to be a good fit and to be a reliable team player who’s ready to work hard.
These tips can improve your chances of landing an internship:
- Develop your “elevator pitch”: An “elevator pitch” is a summary of your skills and abilities that concisely tells potential employers what you can do to help them, and is brief enough to give during an elevator ride. Include your coursework, skills, volunteer experience and post-graduation goals. Practice it often, on your roommate, your family or professors, so you’ll be prepared to pitch yourself whenever the opportunity arises.
- Know the industry: You should be able to converse with the interviewer about the company’s industry or field. Review some job descriptions to find relevant terms, and look up any that sound unfamiliar. Check out recent industry news, and learn about the field’s prominent leaders.
- Know the company: Demonstrate your knowledge about the company. Review the website and do an online search of the company name to learn about who they are, what they do and any news-related items. Prepare a few questions about the company to complete the profile.
- Know what you want: Be prepared to answer some variation of the “What are your expectations?” question. Employers want to know if they can give you what you’re looking for through the internship. Whether it’s additional skills, industry contacts or experience you can leverage to land a job, it’s important to think through what you’ll bring to and take from the internship.
- Target your application: With the industry and company knowledge you’ve acquired, you can target your application to highlight the skills that will most help the company. Explain why you’re a good fit and demonstrate that you’ve done your research.
- Practice your interview skills: The way you present yourself in an interview is crucial to your chances of getting the internship. Proofread your resume, and then have someone you trust proof it again. Be sure you dress professionally, offer a firm handshake, make eye contact and show up on time. Do some interview role-playing with a friend or family member, and practice answering some typical interview questions. Show enthusiasm and confidence throughout the interview, and you’ll leave a great impression.
- Follow up: Send a thank-you note immediately after the interview. Emails are acceptable, but hand-written notes are more impressive. You’ll exhibit your professionalism and attention to detail, and present yourself as someone the company wants.
Get the Work Experience You Need Through an Internship
In today’s job market, employers seek out candidates with professional experience – and an internship is the best way to obtain it. But don’t forget that landing an internship takes effort. Preparation, practice and persistence can pay off with a plum intern position.