Last fall, I started my ‘internship hunt’. After reading the book “All Work, No Pay” by Lauren Berger (aka the ‘intern queen‘), I felt inspired. I knew the journey ahead of me wasn’t going to be easy, but I knew it would be one of the most important things for my career and my post-college job hunt.
This past summer, I had the opportunity to intern for a very large tech company in Silicon Valley. It was the coolest experience of my entire life, and I wouldn’t trade my time there for the world. In addition to that internship offer, I received several other offers from other large companies. Though I am not an expert by any means, I wanted to share some tips and advice that I learned along the way during my own internship journey. I hope that you can find these tips helpful:
If you are looking for a summer internship, don’t start applying to jobs in May! Though a lot of companies wait until the spring to interview and select interns, many start hiring in the fall. My best advice would be to start applying for internships in the fall! I had several friends that started hunting for internships at the end of the spring and had a very difficult time. Start applying as soon as you can and continue to apply for internships until you get one!
Your resume is SO important. The best resume advice I have ever been given is to keep it one page! If you’re having a hard time compressing it onto one page, cut out things the least important things. Also, cut out anything that is from high school or not relevant to your degree/career. For example, though I have had 6+ jobs, I didn’t really touch on them much because they aren’t very relevant to my career. Instead, I focused on the aspects of my life that pertain to my future career. Put all of your most important things at the top of your resume because that is what an employer will see first. If you are looking for the perfect resume template, I would highly recommend etsy! There are so many great resume template options there. Triple check your resume for typos/errors/etc. because trust me, there is nothing worse than sending out your resume only to realize it wasn’t perfect. I would definitely recommend having your friends & family look over it for you before sending it off! Lastly, make sure you know your resume very, very well. In interviews, you will be asked about things on your resume, so make sure you are able to elaborate on every point.
What makes you the best pick? What can you bring the company? Know your strengths and know what you can bring the company. It can help to write down your strengths and ask the people around you what they think your best strengths are. In addition, it’s good to know your weaknesses as well. I was asked in so many interviews what my strengths/weaknesses were, so that’s always a good thing to start thinking about! It can also be really helpful to perfect your ‘elevator speech’. This a 30 second-1 minute summary of you! A lot of companies will ask you right off the bat to tell them about you. Keep it short & sweet, and touch on the most important aspects of your life. For example: where you go to school, what your degree is, previous experience you have, and that you are looking for a summer internship.
What are you looking for in an internship and in a company? For me personally, company culture is so important! I also wanted an internship that would help me grow and learn a ton. Know what it is you are looking to get out of the internship and what aspects are important to you. Really think about why you want an internship and what you personally hope to get out of it.
Learn about the company! I remember my very first internship interview. It was definitely NOT perfect; not even close. I was asked to give a summary of the company’s history, and I honestly did not do any research whatsoever. After that interview flop, I learned the importance of really knowing EVERYTHING about a company. Know their history, location, leadership, etc. It’s important. It really is. When interviewing with a new company, I always research for about an hour before the interview. Know everything you can about the company and take notes if you need to!
Utilize the resources around you – especially at your university! Your college most likely has a career center, where they can give you advice and tips for landing an internship/job. My college career center helped proof-read my resume and taught me about resources to use to find companies that were hiring (linkedin is such a great tool!). Also, check to see which companies are coming to your school to recruit! I went to a job fair last spring. Though I wasn’t able to find a perfect fit for me, it was an amazing experience and it was great to get some more experience!
Dress to impress! You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Picking the perfect interview outfit can be hard, trust me. My go-to outfit? A bright blazer, white button down, black pencil skirt, and fun heels. Because I am pursuing a creative career path, I personally always dress a little bit more ‘colorful’ for interviews. However, you can’t go wrong with a classic, neutral suit or shift dress + blazer. If you have a skype/video interview, also dress your best, even if they aren’t able to see your whole outfit. It will make you feel ready and confident!
Definitely keep an open mind. If you would have asked me a year ago about what industry I wanted to pursue, I would have told you 100% cosmetics or fashion. I also thought I would end up in NYC or Dallas. However, I ended up falling in love with all of the Silicon Valley tech companies I interviewed for. Keep an open mind, especially towards companies, location, and industries. You may end up finding passion in a place you never expected!
Do not give up. I repeat; do not give up! You will get a lot of rejections. Trust me. I applied to so many internships, and I got rejected by tons. It happens, but don’t let it discourage you! At the end of the day, you only need one. Some good advice I was given was ‘don’t stop applying for jobs until you get one‘. So keep applying- every day, every week. Don’t stop applying and interviewing until you have been given an offer. If you apply to only one internship, you may be disappointed. The more you apply to, the better your chances of finding an internship will be! When Lauren Berger came to talk to my school last fall, she told us that she applied to hundreds of internships when she first started her internship-hunt. After applying to 100+, she finally got one! There will be companies you never hear back from; it happens. There will be companies that will tell you no; that happens too. It’s part of the process. Getting your first internship can be very difficult, but don’t ever give up. Keep going & always put in your 110% effort! Hard work pays off.
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, be confident. You are special and you have great things to offer! Be confident- especially in interviews. Make a list of your strengths and the things you can offer. Confidence is SO important!
I hope that you could find these tips helpful. If you need any additional tips, I would highly recommend checking out Lauren Berger’s book. It helped me SO much last fall when I started my own internship journey. Let me know if you have any questions & if you have any other tips, please share them below!