It’s that time of year where students are beginning the application process for summer internships. A few of my friends have been asking me for advice on how to stand out and land one, so I thought I would share my take on landing your dream internship. I’m no expert at internships, but I do know what has and hasn’t worked for me when it came to applying and getting an internship. It’s a pretty long post, so let’s get into it!
1. Your resume has to be on fleek.
I can’t stress this enough. It’s time we click the red “x” on Microsoft Word templates and start thinking like designers. A well designed resume and cover letter is more likely to get noticed than a mundane one. Add an accent color, or interesting lines, and shapes and incorporate that into your resume. But don’t go extreme, it’s easy to over design a resume. Pinterest and Behance are great sites to get inspiration from. You also want to make sure the information on your resume is relevant to what you’re applying. For example, if you’re applying for an internship with Céline, it is not necessary to include your work experience at the Olive Garden. Include only the relevant experience you have. This could include classes you’ve taken, projects you’ve worked on and personal projects such as a blog or YouTube channel. Be sure to include a section for your special skills. You really want to sell yourself through your resume.
2. Is a cover letter really necessary?
YES. Your cover letter is the first impression of your personality. When a company reads your cover letter they are getting a sense of your voice. Use this letter to really let them know what you’re about, what internship you’re applying to, and what you can contribute to the company. A cover letter should be short and concise. Companies are reading hundreds of these letters, so you don’t want have a drawn out letter. Stick to two, maybe three paragraphs. Be sure to change the cover letter each time to apply for a company. For example “I would like to apply for the Digital Marketing Internship with Alexander Wang.”
3. Portfolios are the keys to success.
A portfolio is an obvious must when applying for an internship (especially design oriented ones). Companies aren’t looking to hire someone without seeing any examples of their work. So if you haven’t already, start compiling all of your best projects and put them on a portfolio site such as Behance, or on your own site/ blog (even better). Your portfolio should include a wide range of projects. For example, if you are fashion design, of course you want to include your design sketches, but don’t be afraid to include pages from your process books and even mood boards. If you have a blog, add a link to your blog. From my experience in every interview, it never failed for the interviewer to compliment me on my blog. It shows your dedication and style. This helps especially in a phone interview, because it lets them put a face to the voice.
4. So I applied to 3 places, when will I hear back?
Wrong. One of the things I stress to my friends is don’t just apply to a few places. Apply to A LOT of places. In my eyes an internship, is an internship, it doesn’t matter who the brand is. While I would love to intern at Alexander Wang, I know that there are hundreds maybe even thousands applying for the same position as me. So if I’m only applying to 3 major brands, it’s less likely for me to get an internship. Get in the habit of looking at the bigger picture. Start small and work your way up. I’m not saying don’t applying to big brands, but also apply to smaller ones. Smaller brands are more likely to work closely with their interns than large brands. Let’s walk through my application process:
- Get a piece of paper and pen
- Search for brands that are hiring internships. Use sites like freefashioninternships.com, indeed.com, internships.com, & internmatch.com
- Write down the brands you like and what position they are hiring.
- Go to that brand’s site, find the career or contact section and email HR or general info directly. Be sure to make the email subject “Internship Inquiry” or “Digital Marketing Internship” or what ever the position is. In the email introduce yourself, your year, and availability, and include your resume and cover letter in PDF form. Then send it off. Do this for all the brands that were looking for interns.
- Next, you’re going to apply to brands who aren’t really looking for interns (openly.)
- Open Instagram & Twitter and go through the people you follow and write down brands whom you would want to intern for that you may have forgotten about. This could include smaller brands and magazines.
- Now you go to each of those brands’ websites and to the careers or contact section and send an email. Same way you did for the brands that were hiring interns. You will be surprised to find out that a lot of brands are looking for interns they just aren’t advertising it.
I can usually apply to 5-7 a day. My friends thought I was crazy after I told them I applied to 30 in a week. It quite easy if you know exactly where you’re applying to. Now you wait days, and even weeks. It can take up to 3 weeks before you hear back from someone. But when you do, it’s so exciting. Keep in mind, patience is a virtue.
5. I’ve landed an interview! Now what?
Awesome! Now is your chance to shine. Whether it’s an in person, phone, or even a Skype interview you want to show your outgoing personality. Interviewers are essentially looking to have a conversation with you. They want to get to know you, your personality and your professionality. Don’t sit quietly and awkward, instead be confident in yourself, engage in conversation. Make it less of an interview and more of a conversation. Know your resume by heart and be ready to elaborate on it. There’s no way to really prepare for an interview other than knowing your skills and being able to apply them to whatever job or internship you’re looking to get. Whether it’s an in person or Skype interview, dress to impress. You want to dress like the brand you’re interviewing for. I did a guest blog post a while ago on how to dress for 3 different interviews, a business, a creative, and a virtual interview. Check it out here. At the end of the interview they will say “do you have any questions?” Whatever you do, DON’T say “no.” Have a few questions ready. Such as: What qualities do you look for in an intern? What kind of programs will I be using? What are the day to day activities of the intern? Questions show that you care about the position, and are engaging in the interview. At the end of an interview I always ask when I will hear a decision. Some say not to do this, but I like to know. I don’t see an issue in it. If they say two weeks, and you haven’t heard from them after two weeks, send a follow up email, most companies may not have gotten a chance to let you know you got the internship, but it could also mean you didn’t get it. Either way, I would rather know for sure.
I hope these 5 tips helped you in any way! If you liked this post and want more like it, leave a comment below and let me know!
*Photo by Maddie Ivey