As undergraduates make their way through four years of college, the idea of obtaining a career-launching internship remains an ever-present concern.
The opportunity to get your first hands-on experience is both exhilarating and terrifying, but the real apprehension comes from the process of getting a position.
Most students find themselves asking the same classic questions that accompany the search for an internship: What are they looking for? What kind of skills will I need? How do I set myself apart?
While internship searching can be a nerve-racking experience, following these five steps can help set yourself apart and land your dream position.
1. Remember your writing skills
Writing is a critical skill that any professional position requires.
Recruiters will be looking for a candidate that can articulate their brand’s message in a way that is concise, thoughtful and error-free.
Be sure to double-check your resume, LinkedIn account and every email you send for typos.
“No matter what kind of internship you are going for you need good writing skills,” says senior journalism major Cydne Wright. “Your credibility diminishes if you are repeatedly making mistakes in your writing.”
After ensuring that your writing is error-free, consider supplying companies with papers and project samples if the position is writing intensive.
This will not only give the company a taste of your writing, but it will also make you look prepared, driven and more professional.
2. Make your social media marketable
Your personal social media is an extremely important tool when it comes to landing an internship.
Your social media not only represents your personal life but also gives insight as to how you will represent the company.
The first step is to make sure your social media is squeaky clean. With 37 percent of recruiters using social media to research candidates and 97 percent of companies using it to recruit hiring prospects, you should consider deleting any questionable posts.
Shelby Miller, an Auburn senior majoring in apparel merchandising, recommends keeping future employers in mind any time you post.
“Since I am currently trying to break into the fashion industry, social media is a really important tool for shaping my career,” she says. “I think for any career path you are following you should definitely keep your social media clean and try to post things that companies would be interested in.”
Take the time to research a company’s social media pages to get a feel for the kind of online presence they might be looking for. If the company holds your dream position, consider implementing what you find into your own social media accounts.
3. Networking is key
This tip applies to all job searches in general. When it comes to finding an internship, your professional network can put you far above the competition.
Whether it is a family member, a professor or professional acquaintance, having a connection on the other side of the hiring process is invaluable.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone for help when looking for an internship. You will be surprised by how willing people are to assist your search.
If you know any professionals in the field you are looking to enter, send them each an email to say you are interested in learning more about their position and company. This is also a great opportunity to pass along your resume to a professional who is in your desired line of work.
Just this small step can open doors to opportunities and insights that may have been left unknown had you not taken the time to reach out.
4. Interviews: do your research and have questions
Dr. Daniel Butler, a marketing professor at Auburn’s college of business, tells his students that for an interview you must “know before you go.”
Conducting research on a company prior to your interview is imperative for success. Research the position, the company’s history, its goals and anything you may want to use as a talking point during the interview.
By showing that you have taken the time to thoroughly look at the company’s website shows that you have a genuine interest in the position. Your research will also help you form meaningful questions to ask your interviewer.
“Always make sure you have a good question to ask at the end,” says Rachel Snow, an intern for Auburn University’s design team. “Whether the question is about growth within the company or something personal for the person interviewing you, asking a question makes you seem more engaged and will help you stand out.”
By researching the company’s website, your interviewer’s LinkedIn page and sites like Glassdoor, you will come across as prepared to take on your internship and a meaningful addition to the company.
5. Beef up your resume
Your resume is the single most important document for your professional career and is the key to getting your foot in the door.
It should be concise, error-free and limited to one page. Use sites like Canva to build your resume from easy to use templates. Along with these basics, you should also keep in mind that companies don’t just want a list of things you have done.
Employers want to know the positions you have held and the details of what you accomplished. Erin Duff, a public relations and marketing representative for Stable Kernel, recommends adding quantitative data to your resume in order to back up your experiences.
“Companies want to know the tangible tasks you have accomplished,” she says. “It is important to add numbers wherever you can to make your experiences more results-oriented.”
Don’t just say what you did: say how you did it, what you accomplished and what kind of contributions you made. Adding numbers to your resume, as well as thoroughly explaining your experiences, will better your chances of getting in the door and one step closer to receiving a job offer.
Landing an internship is the first step to entering a competitive workforce. By following these tips, you can leverage yourself above the competition and secure your dream position.