After building several internship programs, I’ve noticed patterns of who gets internships and whose resumes never make it. Here are top 10 tips I have for those looking to get noticed by prospective employers – both for students AND non-students seeking internships.
1. Your resume matters!
In my experience, intern resumes are more likely to be put poorly put together. Many applicants often put their fast food jobs, for example, and say nothing about what relevant things they’ve learned in school.
* Hint: Got volunteer experience that’s relevant to the industry or job? List it!
2. Keep your social media outlets professional.
Google yourself on the Internet – what will prospective employers find? Are your privacy settings set up so that your social media are not visible to them if they’re not something you want publicized?
* Hint: If you haven’t already, get a LinkedIn account.
3. Elaborate on your academic projects.
If you’re a student and don’t have relative work experience, explaining what you’ve learned and applied in school is vital. Employers aren’t going to pick your resume for an interview just because you say you’re “a hard worker” and “learn quickly”!
4. List the tools and programs you know.
Understand a certain software program? Use a particular tool applicable to the work you’re applying for? List it.
* Hint: List it under the job - or class - where it was used. Simply putting it at the top of the page in a big keyword list tells us nothing about the context in when/how it was used.
5. Don’t omit work history.
If you’re fairly new to the workforce, show us you’ve had some type of gainful employment, even if you don’t think it’s relevant. It shows you’ve been in a work environment!
6. Not a student but want to start over? Consider an internship!
Your role as an applicant is to show us why you’ve got what we’re looking for – so make sure your resume and cover letter clearly articulate that you meet the skills requested, have done some learning on your own, and are willing to take the pay specified.
* Hint: Check out this article on the benefits of internships for adult jobseekers.
7. Include work samples.
Did you do a cool project that might be relevant to this employer’s industry or job specifications? Reference it in your cover letter and include a hyperlink on your resume, rather than attach a huge document (documents may not upload into the employer’s system).
8. Do your homework.
Way too many applicants that I call for internship interviews can’t tell me what my company does. Take the time to get to know them before you apply – not after they call you for an interview.
9. Build a relationship with your school’s career services team!
Strangely, I hired most of my interns through my network, traditional job boards and career fairs. I’m always surprised at how few direct applications I get through the college internship boards I post on. These folks are here for a purpose!
10. RESPOND to the employer – immediately.
More than half of the intern applications I’ve received have been tossed because I never get a response back to follow up questions. I’m serious! Others wait weeks because they were “on vacation” or “busy with finals”, thinking that’s okay. Don’t bother applying if you’re not ready to respond.
* Hint: On vacation? Check your email. If you’re looking for a job, you need to be responsive – you can’t expect employers to wait around for you to get back from Hawaii.