It’s crunch time, undergrads! A lot of students have their summer internships locked down because most companies start searching for interns at least one full season beforehand.
But don’t worry. It’s not too late if you start now!
Realize, however, that employers are being bombarded by applications right now—so you really have to step your game up and set yourself apart from the rest. Social media, for instance, has made it possible for you to express your professional-self easier than ever before. Take full advantage.
The following are some tactics to step up your internship application:
1. Consider the Company’s Culture
Researching the company’s culture, or the values and organizational style, can be a useful way to leverage your application, says Gen Y Expert and Founder & President of Come Recommended Heather Huhman.
“Once you've done this research, you can include key words and phrases from the company mission or values within your materials (as long as they make sense and apply to you),” Huhman says. “You can also make your cover letter much more personal because you have an understanding of what's important to the company and how you'll fit in if you become an intern there.”
2. Find Common Connections on LinkedIn
Your network reach is bigger than you might think. Browse the folks that work at your desired companies—you never know, a vital professional at the company might share your alma mater.
Or, you might have a mutual friend that can introduce you via LinkedIn’s “introduction” feature. Either way, make sure your LinkedIn messages are personalized to maximize your chances of getting a response. Aim to exude your genuine interest in the company by asking questions about the company culture and tips for applicants.
3. Do Some Online House Cleaning
Google your name—because, according to a survey by ExecuNet, more than 70 percent of employers will be Googling you after coming across on your resume.
Time for some damage control! Find any old MySpace accounts from way back when? Delete ASAP. Cancel your Xanga Journal, full of public journal entries from the good old early 2000s. Delete out-of-date comments on any strange forums you might have participated in. The last thing you want is for your potential employer to see your archived teeny bopper phase.
4. Become a Regular BloggerAfter you clean up your online presence, take control of it. Blogging is a great way to show that you’re genuinely interested in your field and doing it regularly shows that you’re a consistent worker. Pick your favorite free blog platforms, like Blogger, Tumblr or WordPress, and share your entries via LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. Focus your blog on one interest. It’s also a great chance for you to keep practicing your writing skills because it’s a core skill you’ll need when you get the internship anyway. Don’t neglect to surf other blogs in your industry. Don’t know where to start? Check out Blog Catalog. Finding a few blogs in your field will encourage you to adapt to the industry lingo, learn more about the thought leaders of the industry, and see what other people are saying in the blogosphere.
5. Leverage Twitter
Create a Twitter list dedicated exclusively to your internship hunt. Then, add folks that work at companies at which you’d like to intern and make sure the list is public. Every employer or professional you add will be notified that they are a member of your list. Be creative and expressive with this tactic. Make a separate list for career experts to take advantage of free career advice.
Wait, don’t just walk away when you’re done! Engage daily by Tweeting interesting industry-related articles, participating in Twitter Chats, and responding to others in your feed. Twitter’s also a great tool to find internship openings as well — more on that in No. 6.
6. Be Super Resourceful While Hunting
Don’t limit yourself to your university’s job portal. There are a ton of other resources you should be trolling on the daily! Here are some:
- Idealist.org is a great platform for internships and volunteer opportunities.
- HillZoo.com is awesome specifically for internships in Washington DC.
- APHA.org is the go-to source for students looking to work in public health.
- FedJobs.com is great exclusively for federal internships.
- CareerBliss jobs, for instance, scopes out various internship opportunities from different job portals, from marketing internships to engineering.
- LinkedIn offers a variety of internship postings.
As mentioned in No. 3, Twitter is a great tool to search for time-sensitive internship openings. Companies often announce available positions via Twitter using the hashtag: “#internships.” In fact, there are about five new tweets about an internship opening just within the past hour!