When it comes to unpaid internships, we’re all looking for the best bang for our imaginary buck. Interns are looking to gain hands-on experience and networking opportunities. Companies want help with their workload. It’s a trade-off for both parties. Summer is nearing and Facebook feeds everywhere are filling with news about the last day of classes and the end of courses. Now is the perfect time to get some experience. Hello summer internships! Here are a few ways to land your best summer internship.
Do Some Reflecting
What are you hoping to get out of this experience? Be specific. Do you want to learn how to run a database, have some hands on experience with customers, or apply metrics to a social strategy? The more clear you are on your internship goals, the easier it will be to narrow down your list of companies. It may even be better for your employer to delegate tasks that interest you.
Consider your past experiences to help shape your goals. What have you learned about yourself? What are your strengths and weaknesses? If you excel at working with people, you may do better work drafting client emails than counting inventory. Even though there will always be grunt work to pay your dues, always consider the kind of work you’d like to do in the future, and you could get it. This is your experience, taking some time to think about what you really want will help you make the most of it.
Quick Tip: Think about a time you overcame a big problem. What tools and techniques solved it?
Make a List that gets You Excited
When you know what kind of work you want to do, it’s time to pick the kind of company you want to work for. Pick an organization whose mission gets you fired up.
When you believe in the work you are doing, the excitement is palpable. And you become memorable. In most cases, it’s actually more work for employers to hire interns, even when it’s unpaid. It takes time and resources to train, follow up, and check in with progress. When you really care about the organization, employees will feel more confident that you will work hard and really put time and effort into making the most of your internship. Internships.com has an extensive and helpful list of resources for finding the right internship for you.
Don’t be afraid to do some digging. Even if a company isn’t explicitly hiring interns, it doesn’t mean they don’t want awesome people to get in touch with them.
Think of it as a wish list of your dream jobs. Two of Sokanu’s early members started as interns. The easiest way to get your foot in the door is to already be inside.
Quick Tip: The people you already know are great sources. Who do you know that is working in an industry you’re interested in?
Write the Killer Cover Letter
The cover letter is the best place to make an impression up front. Talk about what you can offer them. Employers know that you will be getting valuable experience with them. What they really want to know is what you can do for them. What skills and experience do you bring to the company? It can even be as simple as working hard and listening. Think about how you can benefit the company by working for them.
Quick tip: Use more “you’s” than “I’s” in the cover letter.
Let the company know you exist! Personally, this was always the tough part for me. Send the email, make the call, walk in the door. Send your stuff out and be persistent with the ones you really want. If they write a great blog post, tweet or email them about how impactful you found it. Keep in touch.
Quick Tip: Find the name of the person you are contacting. Avoid “hiring manager” and “to whom it may concern.”
And when you do finally get into your internship, treat the entire experience like you were hired. Put in time, care about your work, learn all you can, and enjoy. All the time you put in will pay off. Figuratively and maybe literally.
If you could intern at an organization in the world, where would it be? Let us know in the comments!
About the Author
Renee Masur is the Community Manager for Sokanu and Island girl living in Vancouver. She loves people and their stories.Follow on Google Plus Follow on Twitter More Content by Renee Masur