If you’re shopping around for an internship opportunity that’s going to pad your resume, build your professional network, and round out your college experience (perhaps by awarding actual credit!) it’s time to take your search seriously. Site supervisors report that one of the most frustrating things about internships is the actual hiring process, which is often approached haphazardly by students who just don’t yet understand how to approach a job opportunity. Here’s what NOT to do:
- Do not slack on the in-person basics. This is not “old school” stuff. It’s basic professionalism and if you fail on this front, you’re going to have a tough time. So make sure you’ve got the following habits solidly in your arsenal before you meet anyone in person: firm handshake with polite greeting, eye contact, good posture, a smile, and no fidgeting or interrupting.
- Don’t neglect your research. By the time you get to your interview, you should know the organization, and the person interviewing you, inside and out. You should know what the company expects from an intern, (and if they haven’t made that clear, that should be at the top your list of interviewee questions) and you should be prepared to discuss why this particular organization is of interest to you.
- Do not act uninterested. The biggest mistake applicants make when seeking out internships is to hit “apply” as if pressing a magic button is all it takes to land an opportunity. You’re competing with other internship candidates. And chances are, the student who lands the job isn’t going to have the highest GPA or the most impressive part-time job history. It’s going to be the candidate who expresses that she’s interested in the job, talks about why, and is excited and motivated. If you get that interview, don’t walk out the door without saying “I really want this opportunity. I’m excited about it, and I think I could learn a lot from you. I’ll look forward to hearing from you.” You’ll blow away your interviewer and solidify in his mind your interest in the position.
This is a job search, so treat it that way! Be competitive, be aggressive, and be focused. Make sure your application reflects your interest, reiterate that interest during your interview, and remember that the impression you make is all the information your supervisor has when making a hiring decision.