Internship is an opportunity to for any student to experience working life before the student graduates. Thus, it is easy to understand that internship is considered as one of the major milestones in your academic life. I am convinced that before you land your eyes on this article, you would have reviewed articles, blog posts, videos or maybe attend seminars on how to land a ‘dream’ internship. For those of you who have done your homework, chances are you have heard or read this advice before: improve and proof-read your resume, clean up your social media accounts, dress appropriately and arrive earlier for your interview, have a firm handshake, look the interviewer straight in the eyes when communicating and tirelessly build your network.
While the advice above may be sound and logical, you obviously do not want to just land on any internship but rather the one that can make you stood out against the rest. Internships are not structured equally, each will expose you to a unique opportunity and learning experience. Some prestigious internships are made to be the golden tickets that will fast track you to a permanent position with substantial salary and bright future. Thus, this article seeks to guide you to secure internships with your future career in mind.
Who they are looking for
Prestigious companies love a practical visionary. In the process of researching your internship, you would have to align your interest with the company vision and in turn, how you can contribute towards its growth. Thus, your internship application can be seen as justification of your choice of major and your future career plan. When you are working with the big picture in mind, it will be a factor that can ensure them that you know what you want to achieve in your career projectile. They love people who know what they want as this gives them assurance on investing in them, internship is one of the main pipelines for hiring and companies are more likely to convert their interns into permanent staff than candidates from open recruitments.
When you’ve understood the position you applied for and your goal in the company, it will be a lot easier to see which experience may be relevant to the company and whether your qualities and interests match what the company is searching for. One question which can bring you ahead in the internship deal is to prepare an answer to the question “What makes you stand out?” Obviously, in order to achieve this, you should interact with people who have worked or currently working in the company or even ask for an opinion from their business partners. This brings me to my second factor of consideration.
Know thy companies
Companies, not only those in the Fortune 500, like to be recognized. As much as they would like to know you, they would like you to understand what it is that make them stand out as well. In most internship interviews I have been, interviewers are quick to ask questions such as “What do you know about us or our products?” or “How do you think this company has bring positive impact for the society?”. While this seems to be a filler question, this can be a very powerful indicator on how thorough the applicants have considered the companies they have applied for as it shows how much effort the applicants put in finding out whether the companies are good fit for them.
I often find that applicants are taking this factor lightly because the position that they are applying from Company A is the same as Company B. It is important to take note that company’s culture, vision and day-to-day operations can be significantly different despite operating in the same business segment. Spend more than few hours researching about the company that you are interested in doing internship. Your research should not only cover the company and its product, but also include about the news about the company, their culture and market sentiment towards their product. From this information, you can convey your in depth knowledge and avoid sounding ignorant or discussing irrelevant topics It is true that potential interns should have the courage to speak up and contribute to brainstorming sessions. However, effective and credible input can only be given from thorough research.
On top of knowing the company, it is also recommended that you have experienced using the product offered by the company. For example, if you want to land an internship with Facebook, you should be able to showcase how Facebook has positively impacted your personal and academic life. It is recommended that you share personal insights from what you have researched or experienced. You can take it one step further by discussing politely what features of the product you may find unsatisfactory and how they can be improved, this is usually perceived positively by hiring managers.
Show, don’t just tell
Last but not least, I often hear from my friends that their strategy in landing their targeted internship is by showing their passion towards the company blindly without validating the means. It is fair to say that you are an avid fan of the company but an individual does not become an employee in Google for example because they simply by googling everything. One way to showcase your dedication to the company is by showcasing how you’ve infused the company’s products into your daily life, for instance your projects, even if it is not something they’ve paid to endorse. As for the resume and cover letters, it is important to highlight your projects which closely align to the values or qualities that the company is looking for. A resume that contains from coursework alone will not stand out.
I hope that this article can be a helpful input especially for those who are trying to land on an internship. I understand that applying for internship can be frustrating when students have to apply for internship while juggling with their coursework. I hope that this can provide clearer perspective on how you should set your prospects in landing that dream internship. I wish you good luck!
Picture is taken by the courtesy of InterviewGold