The Internship Application Process
Applying for an internship includes developing and targeting your resume and cover letter, providing the employer with a list of references, asking for a letter of recommendation, and sending out thank you notes after the interview. Developing an effective resume and cover letter are key to getting to the next stage of the process - obtaining an interview.
Getting an internship during the summer or during fall and/or spring semester requires diligence and planning. Application deadlines may be early for some internships and the process might require some time to get everything out before the deadline. Organizations may require a formal application, resume, cover letter, transcript, 2 or 3 letters of recommendation, as well as an essay on why you’re interested in interning for the company or some other related question. Not all internships have the same requirements. Here are some things to check for when getting ready to apply for internships.
What is the Application Deadline:
Internship deadlines begin as early as November for some summer internships. Large internship programs in some of the bigger cities as well as internships in industries such as finance, journalism, and government tend to have earlier deadlines to ensure a strong pool of applicants. For the most part, most internship deadlines occur somewhere between January and April. The important thing is to start early to ensure that you do not miss the deadline.
What Qualifications are Required:
Employers may require students to be at a certain level in their college education or may stipulate specific skills, majors, or courses completed to apply for the internship. Be sure you understand the qualifications for the internship and if you are unsure try phoning or emailing the organization for clarification. If you feel you possess most of the qualifications the employer is looking for, go ahead and apply for the internship and you can discuss your skills further if contacted for an interview.
What Qualifications are Preferred:
Employers may prefer that students applying for the internship are a junior or senior and that they have specific skills or courses completed. Although they indicate a preference, they do not indicate these as a requirement to apply. If you are interested in the internship and feel you possess the necessary skills, go ahead and apply. You can always discuss your skills further with the employer if contacted for an interview.
What Documents are Required to Apply:
Check the internship listing very carefully to see what documents are needed to apply. If transcripts and reference letters are required, be sure to allow ample time to get these documents together. Be ready to send an error free, grammatically correct resume and cover letter to the employer. Provide all references with a copy of your resume as well as any additional information on any special skills and accomplishments they might not know about.
How Does the Employer Want the Documents Sent:
The employer may request that you attach your resume/cover letter to an email, send it in the mail, or include it in the body of your email? Prior to sending out your materials, be sure to follow the employers' directions exactly as stated in the listing.
How Will You Follow Up to Make Sure the Employer has Received Your Documents :
After sending out your application materials it is important to check to make sure the employer has received everything they need from you. By following up with the employer, you can also get an indication on when the employer plans on making a decision and what the next step in the process will be. This also lets the employer know that you are still very interested in the internship.
What is the importance of a cover letter?
Cover letters are an opportunity to market a candidate's skills and accomplishments in relation to the requirements of the job. Each cover letter should be targeted to the organization and the position to which the applicant is applying. Developing effective resume and cover letter increases the candidates chances of being called in for an interview.
How do you create a resume when you feel that you have nothing to write?
As a student just starting out in college you can certainly include high school information and any other activities and volunteer opportunities you have been involved in. We all start off by not having any experience to put on a resume; but it is your college years when you can begin developing a strong resume by participating in a wide range of activities and by further developing your knowledge, skills and abilities through your classes and experiential learning opportunities like internships, service learning, volunteer, and collaborative research.
In drafting your first resume be sure you do the following:
1. First concentrate on the content (skills and accomplishments)
2. How does the resume look (is there enough white space so it doesn't look cluttered and will the employer be able to easily find the information they are looking for?)
3. Be sure your resume is consistent (attention to detail - look carefully at how you formatted the information - using bold and italics, underlining, periods, dates, states, abbreviations, etc.)
Writing a Professional Thank You Note
Writing a thank you note after an interview is not only a courteous gesture on your part, it also helps to set you apart from other candidates. Thank you notes can also provide an opportunity to highlight something interesting about the internship/company or to provide additional information about your interests, skills, or accomplishments. Don't forget to send that all important thank you note.
A professional portfolio provides employers with a complete picture of a candidate applying for a job. Professional portfolios include your experiences, accomplishments, skills, education, interests, and professional goals and objectives. Professional portfolios are much more comprehensive that just a resume and cover letter. Many internship/job candidates will bring their portfolios to their first interview. The professional portfolio will give the employer an in-depth summary of what you have accomplished. Portfolios are often required in education, art, graphic design, theater, and writing jobs but may be used for other careers as well.
Taking the time to develop a high quality portfolio can be the deciding factor that puts you ahead of the game and the competition. Rather than only hearing about your success, a professional portfolio actually shows an employer what you have done. Portfolios provide examples to employers of your best work. Portfolios can help you to make a good first impression and shows the employer that you are really serious about the job. Although creating a portfolio will take some creativity and time, once it’s been developed it only takes minimal effort to keep it current and up-to-date.