Just a first-year student trying to find her first internship among the sea of more qualified candidates.
1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
I had no idea what in the world I was doing. I was on the phone with my mom every day and saw a bunch of my friends doing the same exact thing that I was, so you are not alone on this journey. Ask your friends and family to help. Whether it’s your mom, roommate, or an older girl in your sorority or club, they have a ton of information and experience that they can share with you. Even if it seems like other students are more prepared and have a better resume than you, most kids are just as stressed and confused as you. Everyone is in the same boat — just jump right in, get started, and ask for help.
2. The scary resume and cover letter: Don’t worry, it gets easier to do each time. I promise.
I had to look up online how to write a resume and cover letter. I had no idea what I was doing or how to write them. I also had no clue what a cover letter was until I asked someone. There are tons of templates online that can help you get a good outline and learn the basics; however, I think one of the best ways to write a good resume and cover letter is to ask people you know. Ask your parents, friends, teachers, or anyone who has experience with them because most people have a resume and are more than willing to help you write your first one or edit and improve one that you already have. Obviously, there are a million resumes out there and everyone has their own opinion of how they should look and what should be on it, but the bottom line is to take everyone’s opinions into consideration and then use your own judgment on what you think is important to have. Once you have a solid resume and a good outline, you will realize that you can tweak and change your resume according to the internship or job that you are applying for. As you apply to more jobs, this will become second nature. Resumes and cover letters are not as scary as they seem and once you have a good basic resume you can keep adding and subtracting information over time to make it the best resume it can be for your career path.
3. Don’t be afraid to use your connections.
You would be surprised at how many people get their first major internship or job through a mutual friend or even a family member. I was able to make a great connection with a girl at a huge, amazing communications and advertising agency because she was my grandparents‘ best friend’s grandson’s girlfriend. I know, that’s a long connection. Nevertheless, we got in contact and now she has become a great connection and an amazing mentor to me, as well as a person who can help me get a possible internship or job later in my career. I learned that there are tons of people out there who are more than willing to help and guide this younger generation of students who are trying to find internships and jobs. Therefore, do not be afraid to ask around among your friends and family to see if they know of any opportunities or people that you could get into contact with just so that you can make some more connections.
4. Speaking of connections, make them.
By just making simple connections in the working world you are starting early to grow a network of people who can help you get an internship or job. Also, if you are unsure of what career path you want to take, asking and getting in contact with people in a certain field might help you to decide whether or not you will enjoy a specific industry. As I said before, asking family or friends is key. Trust me, it will help. Family and friends are an amazing database of people who are willing to help you and expand your network to make more connections than you can imagine. I got one of my first internships through knowing a girl in my sorority which goes to show that connections are a great way to discover amazing opportunities. For a lot of internships and jobs, it is all about networking and connections. Just know that people are willing to help you.
5. In this generation of technology, use it and create a LinkedIn account.
If you don’t know what LinkedIn is, it is basically Facebook for the working and professional world. It is actually super fun and is a great way to stay connected to people in the professional world who can help you land an internship or job. LinkedIn also has a new app called LinkedIn Jobs where you can search and filter through different internship and job opportunities that are available at a variety of huge companies. This is a great way to just see what types of jobs are out there, as well as an easy way to find and apply for different openings. I also love this app because it makes it easy to search through jobs to find specifically what you want in a certain location. You can filter by seniority levels (internship, entry level, executive, etc.), types of industries (broadcast media, hospital and health care, apparel and fashion, banking, etc), types of job functions (accounting, marketing, design, engineering, legal, health care, etc.), and so many more categories. It will also send you jobs you might be interested in based on what you have searched through before. Long story short: LinkedIn is an amazing way to stay connected and gain information through technology.
6. Submit a lot of applications.
Just try to get your foot in the door somewhere. What I have learned through this whole process is that a lot of internships are looking for students who are older — not freshmen — and have way more experience than I do as a student in her first year of college. However, that is not to say that there are not multiple opportunities for younger students with less experience. Of course, you have to start somewhere. By applying to a lot of internships you increase your chances of getting at least one, and, who knows, maybe you don’t get your first four that you apply to but the fifth one you actually end up getting and it becomes the perfect fit for you. Just by applying and showing initiative will show some companies that you are hardworking and ahead of the game. You at least put yourself on their radar and show effort which they will appreciate. Also, if you apply again the next time the internship comes around most likely they will remember you and it will show them how much you want the internship as well as how dedicated you are. It’s like casting a wide net into the sea and seeing what fish or internships get caught in your net. Another tip is to try applying to smaller companies because they are willing to take time and truly teach you valuable lessons to give you a great experience. They will also most likely have more openings for younger, less experienced students.
7. Get involved with companies you love and share values with.
Do research on the company you are interning for or thinking about interning for. If you love the company that you are working for then you will have a better time during your internship and will be inclined to do a better job, put in more effort, and learn more. For example, if you are interested in the entertainment industry, try researching and looking for opportunities at companies such as NBCUniversal, Disney, Warner Brothers, etc. Or if you are looking to get into a startup company or nonprofit, try researching and finding one that surrounds an area of your interests or shares your values. Just find something you care about and search for opportunities with companies that encompass your interest. As they say, if you choose a job you love, you will never have to work a day in your life.