Get That Internship! Wrap Up

Over the course of this spring semester, I covered steps in the internship search process. As a wrap-up to the series, here is the complete listing of “Get That Internship!” posts. Enjoy!

How to Find an Internship

How to Target Your Resume for Internship Applications

Internship Applications: What Do You Need?

How to Prepare for Internship Interviews

Ace Your Internship Interviews

Appropriate Interview Follow-Up

What to Do When You Receive an Internship Offer

Start Preparing for Your Summer Internship

Top Three Tips for Internship Success

I hope you found this internship advice useful, and I hope it helped you in completing a successful internship search. Best of luck in the next part of your internship journey!

Internship Applications: What Do You Need?

After you find an internship that interests you and after you have polished up your resume, it’s time to actually apply for a position. But how exactly do you do that? It’s a question I’ve received a lot lately, so I decided it was a good topic to cover on the ol’ blog.

Apply for Internship

As you move towards the professional world, formal application forms will become few and far between. Will you ever have to fill out an application again? Maybe. Some large corporations might have an online application to complete. In some industries, you might still see paper and pencil forms. But for the most part, you will be submitting your own materials to apply for internships.

So what will you be asked for when applying for an internship? Here are a few possibilities:

  1. A Resume – I wrote about internship resumes last week. Resumes take the place of formal application forms for professional and pre-professional positions. When you think about it, your resume contains most of the information requested by an application form. However, a good resume is targeted for the specific opportunity and can give an employer a better sense of what you are capable of accomplishing.
  2. A Cover Letter – Some employers may formally ask you to submit a cover letter (aka letter of application or letter of interest) when applying for an internship. If you are asked to submit such a letter, then you need to do so. But what if you aren’t asked to submit a cover letter? You are always welcome to do so anyways. A cover letter allows you to go into more detail about how you are qualified for the position, and cover letters have been a traditional piece of the application process. The key with a cover letter is to make it well-written and appropriately focused. It’s about the employer, not about you. Virginia Tech Career Services gives a good overview of the cover letter writing process. I also encourage you to seek guidance from a career advisor as you begin writing a cover letter for the first time.
  3. Writing Samples – If you are applying for an internship that involves a lot of writing – internships in Journalism and Public Relations come to mind – you might be asked to submit writing samples. Employers want to see your skills first hand. Boston College’s Career Center provides some good answers to common writing sample questions. Ask A Manager also covered it on her blog: What kind of writing sample do employers want to see?
  4. A Portfolio – Again, the request to see a portfolio will depend on the field you are seeking an internship in. You will commonly see them requested in creative fields, like Graphic Design, where an actual “product” is an important indicator of your skills. However, students in writing-heavy fields might also be asked to submit portfolios of their work. Portfolios can be used by students in a variety of fields. A link to an electronic portfolio can be an appropriate addition to any resume. Here’s a great post from YouTern on the topic: 5 Easy Steps to Build a “Recruiter-Ready” Online Portfolio.

This covers the standard elements of an internship application. In some cases, it might be as simple as sending in your resume. In others, you might be submitting some real work examples to further demonstrate your qualifications. Just be sure to give the employer everything that they are asking for. A complete application is the only acceptable application there is.

Have you seen any other materials requested for an internship application?

How to Target Your Resume for Internship Applications

Writing a resume is easy. Writing a perfectly targeted resume that sends you to the head of the pack is a little more challenging.


When preparing to apply for internships, you could put together a basic resume and probably get some interviews using it. On the other hand, you can spend a little more time tailoring your resume to internship opportunities and stand out as an above average intern candidate. Here are a few ideas on how to target your resume for internships:

  • Include relevant coursework. If you haven’t had any relevant experience yet, I would encourage you to include information on the relevant courses you have completed. The most common way to do this is to list relevant courses in your Education section. Alternatively, you can create a stand-alone Relevant Coursework section and provide more detail. If creating a Relevant Coursework section, be very selective with the courses you list and only list a few. Focus on classes that included a relevant, large project. For example, I know of Advertising and Marketing courses in which students put together campaigns for real clients. List the name of the course and include a couple of bullet points describing your work on the project and outlining the results.
  • Don’t mistake a paycheck for experience. I see many students gaining relevant experience through opportunities that are NOT paid jobs. From providing social media marketing support for philanthropic projects to holding leadership positions with organizations, “experience” comes in all shapes and sizes. When you title your experience section “Work Experience,” you are making it all about paid jobs. Instead, call your section “Experience,” or create two sections: “Relevant Experience” and “Other Experience” (“Other” being for unrelated jobs you’ve held). When you think about it from a pure experience perspective, you might be bringing more to the table than originally thought.
  • Keep your resume to one page. One issue always up for debate is the acceptable length of a resume. While more than a page is accepted in certain circles, it is very hard to make the case for a multi-page resume for a college student with no internship experience. Ultimately, this is what targeting your resume is all about – understanding how to boil down your experiences to the most necessary details. If you are having difficulty doing this, meet with an objective party like a career advisor. One of us will tell you what your resume can do without.

Need more help preparing your resume for internship applications? Check out these posts from the past:

What is one way you have targeted your resume for internship opportunities?

Winter Break: Gear Up Time for Your Summer Internship Search

I can barely believe that winter break is already upon us. The fall semester flew by, and I’m guessing this spring semester will do the same. This means that summer – and its abundant internships – will be here before we know it.

Winter scenery

For my last post of the fall semester, I want to leave you with some things to do over the winter break to be prepared for your summer internship search. Opportunities will begin popping up in late January/early February, so you will want to be ready to take advantage of them. Here we go…

1. Get that resume ready!

It probably goes without saying, but you will need a resume in order to apply for most internships. And if great internships start getting posted and you don’t have that resume ready, you are going to be behind many of your peers. The break is an ideal time to work on your resume. No assignments, no papers, and no studying leave plenty of time to focus. I have written about internship resumes before, so check out these posts:

2. Google yourself and act accordingly.

Have you Googled yourself lately… or ever? If you are going to apply for internships, it’s a good idea. With the high potential for employers to scope you out online, you will want to be ahead of the game and know what’s out there. And if you’re strategic, you can start to mold your online presence and make it a positive one. Check out this thorough SlideShare presentation to help you get started:

3. Start building a profile on LinkedIn.

I refer to LinkedIn as your resume meets Facebook. It’s your professional social network, and it’s never been easier for students to build profiles on the site. LinkedIn takes your resume to a new level and will help you develop your professional network. Where do you begin? Check out the LinkedIn resources on our Career Resources website and read over the following articles:

Other social media sites can be beneficial as well. For tips, read Six Sites Every Potential Intern Must Be On.

Wishing you a relaxing, yet productive, winter break! “See” you in late January!

What is one thing that you will definitely accomplish over the winter break?

Photo by Bernt Rostad

Give and You Shall Receive

You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again: Internships are important. According to YouTern, “9 out of 10 direct-from-college hires to go those with internship experience on their resumes.” Employers that I talk with tell me that they look for candidates with related experience, the kind typically gained through internships.

You know that an internship benefits you. But have you ever thought about how an internship benefits an employer? Start thinking about it if you want that internship or if you want to be a successful intern.

Thank you Card

When Applying for an Internship…

  • Your resume is about you, but not really about you. Yes, your resume and cover letter provide details on your skills and experiences that qualify you for the internship. But when it comes to crafting your resume, it should speak to an employer’s needs. For example, let’s say you are applying for a PR Internship and you’ve already had some PR experience (like a previous internship). Instead of lumping that PR experience into a general “Experience” section with all of your other jobs, break it out into a “PR Experience” section. Help the reader clearly see that you have the experience they’re looking for.
  • Be careful with those Objective Statements. More often than not, I read Objectives on students’ resumes that are all about themselves: “To obtain an internship that allows me to gain experience, use my communication skills…blah, blah, blah.” If you are going to use an Objective Statement on your resume, keep it simple: “To obtain the ______ Internship with ________ (name of organization).” Don’t go into a long diatribe about what the internship will do for you.
  • The same goes for that cover letter. Just as with your resume, your cover letter is about you. However, the letter is about you in the context of what you bring to the table. How will your background benefit the employer? Have you worked in a similar environment? Have you done similar work successfully in the past?
  • Don’t forget to send a thank you note. This one should be self-explanatory. If you have an interview, make sure to follow up with a thank you note. Thank the interviewer for his/her time. Incorporate elements from your conversation, something that highlights what you will bring to the position. Showcase your appreciation for the opportunity and a genuine interest in their organization and the position.

During Your Internship…

  • There is never nothing to do. So, you finished all of your assigned work for the day. Do you sit back and relax until it’s time to leave? No, you don’t. Ask your co-workers if they need any help. Look around you for a new project to tackle. Work ahead on existing projects. Bottom line: Do something.
  • Be grateful for the opportunity. Not everyone does an internship before they graduate. For some, this might be by choice. For others, opportunities don’t pan out. Either way, you are fortunate for having the opportunity to work in a professional setting doing the work you want to do when you graduate. So, say thank you. Do small things like providing a co-worker a recommendation on LinkedIn. Share your great experience with others, such as through our Intern of the Month feature.

Yes, an internship will provide you with experience that boosts your resume and makes you a marketable candidate. But as an intern, you are there to do something for that employer, too. The right frame of mind, hard work, and gratefulness will pay off in your favor big time!

Photo by Jon Ashcroft