You're probably aware by now: it's a tough job market out there. But with the right amount of experience and a reliable network of contacts, you can make the job search process a whole lot easier. You know how to meet people and establish a strong network. The question is, how can you gain work experience if you're young, looking for work, and, well, inexperienced? One way is to get a job internship.
Internships are especially important for students or young professionals who are looking to get their careers started. Unfortunately, competition for top internships can be fierce. If you're eyeing an internship at a top company or a glamorous nonprofit, you'll need to rise above the crowd with a great resume , a thoughtful cover letter, sharp interview responses, and a professional appearance and demeanor. Here are a few things to remember as you work to land that perfect internship.
It's the broken record of the career advice world, but for good reason: networking is where you'll find those dream internships and it might help you get your foot in the door. Networking doesn't necessarily mean you should call everyone you can think of, pleading for favors.
Instead, make sure you're maintaining connections with old friends, friends of the family, and community figures. Let them know you're looking so that they think of you when the perfect opportunity pops up in their office or their neighbor mentions that they need some extra hands in their office.
Another often untapped resource for networking is your college or university's alumni network. It's full of people who have made themselves available to people like you who are just starting out. They might have an internship for you, or they might just be able to give you some advice on your field and point you in the right direction. Either way, this is a great way to get some inside advice and jumpstart your job search.
Think Carefully About the Opportunity
Before you even start polishing your cover letter and applying for an internship, put some thought into whether the internship is a good fit.
Do you have the right skills and experience to excel in this opportunity? What experience has specifically prepared you for this position? How does it fit into your overall career goals, and what do you hope to learn from it? If you have a solid idea of how both the company and you will benefit, you'll impress in both your cover letter and interview.
Research the Internship Position
Make sure you have a good understanding of the company before you even start the application process. For example, research the "About" page on the company's website, and figure out if you fit into their office culture. Of course, research is also a critical step to acing your interview, but if you do some of your homework ahead of time, you'll have a better chance of getting to that step.
Write a Great Resume & Cover Letter
It's been mentioned before, but this advice bears repeating: your cover letter and resume need to be perfect. These documents are the only ways you can represent yourself to an employer. Even if you have a shining personality and the perfect skill set for the job, you have to convey that on a piece of paper.
When you're applying to internships, chances are you're just getting started in a field. Even if you don't have a ton of professional experience yet, you can put other relevant information on your resume: leadership activities, volunteer projects, or classes that relate to the internship. By including this information, your resume will prove that you're organized, a leader, and a go-getter. Just remember to keep your information relevant to the internship.
Interviews are usually the most nerve-wracking part of the application process, but they don't have to be if you're prepared. Visit LiveCareer for interview advice and free answers to real interview questions. A little research beforehand will improve your confidence and help you land the internship position.