Applying for an internship, or any job for that matter, can be intimidating. Being qualified for a position does not necessarily guarantee you the job, but I’ve learned a few tricks over the years that have helped me land several internships.
Stalk the company like it’s your ex-boyfriend. Be familiar with the company’s website, understand their mission statement, and know its role in the industry. Don’t be surprised if you are asked questions about the company during the hiring process, and know key people in the organization. If the company has a presence on social media, look at their different accounts to get an inside look. You can learn a lot from a Twitter feed and pictures on Instagram, and you may even be able to pick up on small details that will win you points in an interview.
If you arrive on time, you are considered late. Employers are taking valuable time out of their busy schedules to interview you, so as a common courtesy, arrive early. Know exactly where the office is located in advance (do a test-run, if need be). Add thirty minutes to your total travel time–allow twenty minutes for traffic and the possibility of getting lost, and ten minutes for arriving early.
Ask questions. At the end of your interview, you’ll likely be asked if you have any questions. If you do have questions–about the company, the position, the requirements–ask them! If you don’t have questions, ask one anyway (just make sure it is meaningful and sincere). Asking questions can be a great way to learn more information and to show that you did your research. I’m always interested to know what obstacles a company faces on a regular basis.
Realize that you haven’t failed if you are not offered the position. It is so important to remember that many elements are factored into the hiring process. I’m fortunate in that I’ve been offered a position after all but one interview. After not receiving a call back, I was upset, but mostly confused. Essentially, I possessed all of the qualities that the employer was seeking and had more experience than necessary. The job was a nannying position for a high-profile family, and I later learned through the hiring agency that the woman was wary of all potential candidates after her prior nanny exposed her on a public blog.
You are interviewing the potential employer as much as the employer is interviewing you. Don’t be afraid to turn an opportunity down if it isn’t right for you. Continuity is crucial in a collaborative office environment. Pay attention to initial vibes, and don’t accept a position if you don’t see yourself fitting in well with the team.
Proofread everything. Cover letters, resumes, and all correspondences should be meticulously proofread before sending. Friend your high school English teacher on Facebook if you must. Grammatical errors become glaringly apparent in applications, especially when you are attempting to describe yourself as an excellent writer and a detail-oriented person.
Send a hand-written thank-you note. In a technology-driven world, it’s tempting to type an email, but take the extra five minutes and mail a neatly written thank-you note. I truly think that this is a deal-breaker for most employers–it’s a small detail that does not go unnoticed. With that being said, an email should be sent at the very least. I like to send a short follow-up email a few hours after my interview, and then a note through the mail the next day.
See part one of my internship tips here.
What are your thoughts on thank-you notes?