By Karis Hustad, Laura Kujava and Annie Gudorf
Internships are great and all, but how exactly does one go from lowly student to member of a professional organization? Let's just say the process isn't exactly a pleasant one.
Usually containing months of research and planning, the path to interning is a road paved in insecurities, multiple cups of coffee and lost Saturday nights. But with the right preparation and strategy it's a very doable process, and completely worth it in the end. So for this edition of "Summer Internship" we're going to take you through the preparation process to give you an idea of what it takes to receive that congratulatory phone call.
In addition, we also have a new intern joining the Monday blogging fun: Annie Gudorf, a rising junior at Loyola, is a veteran intern and will be sharing her tips on how to utilize your experiences. Here is a little more about her:
"I am an intern at Hafenbrack Marketing, a marketing firm in Dayton, Ohio. I work Monday-Friday from 8 am - 5 pm. Yes.... long days, but luckily it is paid (thank god). Hafenbrack Marketing is a local firm that specializes in healthcare marketing.
Basically, all summer I will be helping with the launch of the new company and Genessa's clients. So I will be sending out press releases, working on email blasts, direct mail pieces, writing copy for the website, etc. Basically everything that needs done to launch a new brand is what I am assisting with. So far this internship has given me new insight into what marketing is all about. I am no longer just focused on marketing products, but working on establishing Genessa's brand in the healthcare field. It is definitely something different than any other internship I have had before. I have been given the opportunity to start at the very beginning and get to see how the whole marketing process works. I can't wait to see what the summer brings!"
But enough about us. You came here to figure out how to land that internship. Here's what we have to say:
With my heart set on living in Chicago for the summer, an internship seemed the ideal way to disguise my break away from home as an important stepping stone to my future career. Finding said internship did not prove itself as easy as my decision to stay. I went onto Rambler Links (an online job finding service through the school) and applied for all jobs remotely related to AD/PR or marketing. This step yielded no results as I find that someone majoring in the communication school usually presents themselves best in person.
I then talked to anyone and everyone that I know in the marketing or AD/PR field. Most of the people I spoke to were very helpful, but many did not know of any specific internship programs for students at my level of education. Finally, while in my Reporting and Writing class, my teacher told us that if we went to the Communications school career fair, we would get 5 points extra credit. I decided to go even though I was not dressed in the recommended business casual.
The fair was amazing; dozens of stands filled with communication jobs all looking to hire students. I first met my current boss there and she explained to me the ins and outs of the job. One interview and a writing test later, I got a call that the job was mine. My boss even told me that she remembered meeting me at the fair. Thank god for my Reporting and Writing teacher and my desperation for extra credit points!
I would say the number one reason I got my internship is because I did some MAJOR prep work. To begin, I knew going into college that I wanted to have an internship under my belt by the time I started junior year, so I started getting involved right away. I wrote for the newspaper, started a blog, got a job and began volunteering and always stayed alert for more opportunities.
During winter break and the beginning of spring semester I re-wrote and revised my resume at least twelve times: I looked at online resources and also had my parents, a career counselor and several professors look over it. I also took advantage of the Career Week offered by Loyola's School of Communication, which invited professionals from the field to give tips on how to get hired. I had a general idea of publications and stations that I respected and wanted to work with so I pursued those first, checking their job listings and career page postings. I made a final list of places to apply and what each wanted from an applicant, and made sure to personalize every cover letter to show why I would be the best applicant for that particular position. It took some extra work, but it helped me realize why I wanted to work for each organization- which helped me convince them why I would be the best.
After sending in my resumes and cover letters, I waited about a week and then called to follow up on each of my applications. I ended up doing a phone interview for one and an in-person interview for another and was eventually offered both! I realized that WCCO was the right fit for me for this summer (I needed to be home for other reasons as well), but the other option, writing for Inside Loyola, offered to let me have the position when I came back to school for the fall. Though it was a few months of intense preparation and stress, landing two fantastic internships made it totally worth it!
With the economy still in a slump, I was terrified that I would not be able to find work, especially a paid internship for the summer. But due to some good connections and a great resume, I was able to. We have some family friends that work downtown and I simply just asked around if they knew of any marketing firms in the area and they were kind enough to give me some contacts. I immediately pursued their contacts and sent over my resume. Having the connection in place was a great stepping-stone. It helped me start the conversation with my current boss. He was very happy to see what he could do about giving me a position due to having a good professional relationship with my family friend. Tip - No matter what people tell you, USE YOUR CONNECTIONS! That is how my resume got in front of him. His firm typically doesn't hire sophomores in college, but this time he made an exception. Once he saw my resume, he said he was glad I contacted him.
After emailing a few times, he asked me to do a phone interview. To prepare, I made notes that I could lay out and reference during my interview. They contained information about the company and about the field, along with answers to some tough questions that I thought he might ask (he ended up asking a few of them and I was prepared!) After the interview he called me and let me know that I was hired! I couldn't have been more excited!
We also compiled a list of a few tips that can really take your application to the next level:
- Follow up (e-mail potential employers and remind them that you are interested in the job,.,this shows devotion)
- Thank them (after an interview, meeting ect. It shows that you appreciate their time)
- Dress to Impress
- A resume is ONE page long
- Don't be intimidated
- Bring writing samples (or anything else that pertains to your career choice)
- Check your emails (twice, three times, four times...you only have two or three sentences to show that you are competent)
- If you have a phone interview, don't forget to take advantage of the fact that you can have prewritten notes out about the company and about tricky questions that you think they might ask you.
- If you have a connection to an employer, don't forget to mention it in your cover letter or in the body of your intro email
- Have an online presence (even if you feel like neuroscience has nothing to do with the 'net having a well-composed LinkedIn account can get your name noticed in the right places- same with Twitter!)
- Find a creative way to show off your work (one option: create a personal portfolio on WordPress- this is a great place to add some extra details you can't fit on your resume and stand out from a generic applicant)
- If you're lucky enough to be offered multiple positions, decide which one is best for your current situation, but ask to stay in contact with the one you turn down- you never know if they want someone for next semester!
- On the first day: bring a small notebook, pens/pencils and take notes! You'll learn a ton of vital information and you'll want to keep it on hand.
Want a question answered or want to share your internship experience with college students? Comment below!
And check back next Monday for another edition of "Summer Internship" where we'll talk about what we've learned on the job so far.
Want more? Check out the on-going series:
Monday, June 13 "A Tale of Two Interns"