Internships 101: Important Tips for the Application and Interview Process

Story by Christina Amato
Feature image via CMU Career Services

College is a full plate of priorities. As students, we spend so much time doing homework, extracurricular activities and working on portfolios, that finding a minute for internship hunting may seem like a loaded task – we all know, internship searches and interviews can be time consuming. To make the process a little bit better, here are some tips that you should stick by when applying.

Build your resume, cover letters and portfolios
Make sure that you edit and add everything to your resume. More than likely, employers will ask about your previous work, so have a portfolio or a portfolio link, if it’s online, readily available

Don’t be afraid to ask for help with cover letters, because that is what your potential employer will see first. If you have a good cover letter, that is the gateway for them to look at your resume.

Check out Career Services for finding a job or help with any application that you are struggling with.

Don’t be afraid to put small things on your resume
As we may think they are not, small things are important too. When applying for internships, they want to see all of the excellent experience that you have.

I ended up getting an internship because of my theater experience in high school. My employers saw theatre experience on my resume, and it showed I was very outgoing. So, don’t be afraid to say that you were in the debate club, played softball or ran track.

These are things that employers look for to show that you are involved, a team player and prepared for work.

Play music while submitting applications
You are now ready for online applications, which are unfortunately long and strenuous. There is no getting through them quickly, and you will have to type in the same information multiple times.

Play music that you would play while studying to ensure you can keep going. Don’t get too distracted from the music by creating a “chill” playlist. If you need to, take a break for a few minutes. Applications are only as long as you make them.

Don’t give up on your dream internship
It’s okay if you didn’t get the internship you wanted on the first try.

Many employers don’t see multiple applications as annoying, but that you are driven and determined. If you didn’t get it one summer or semester, try again next time. They will most likely remember your name, and it can give you a higher chance of success.

Apply for multiple internships
If you don’t get the internship you want, apply for other ones.

For many students, internships are required in order to graduate, so it is vital to look around at as many positions that are parallel to your dream internship.

Odds are, you make like another one just as much or even better than the one you wanted. Don’t forget to keep a list of internships you applied for to follow-up with the process.

Never think you weren’t good enough to get the one you originally applied for, there are a lot of students applying for the same position, and employers have to make the difficult decision of choosing one.

Send follow-up emails
This is a step that is often overlooked or forgotten about. This ensures that the company knows you are still thinking about them, and are serious about the position.

Around 2-3 weeks after you apply, send an email of confirmation to HR or the employer that you interviewed with on your recent application. Ask if they have viewed it, and that you look forward to hearing back from them. Be professional and courteous.

Get interview ready
When you get an interview for an internship, you have to look your best. First impressions in the workplace can open doors to making more connections, getting other jobs and establishing a reputation for yourself.

  • Men should wear dress pants, a collared shirt, nice shoes, a belt and a tie. If it is winter, you should wear a sport coat, but in summer, a long sleeved dress shirt will do.
  • Women, make sure if you wear a skirt or a dress that is is appropriate length for the work place.
  • Wear comfortable but practical shoes, and make sure your outfit is professional. If you need help with your outfit, visit First Impressions in the basement of the UC where you can try on and request professional clothing free of charge for students.
  • Next, it may seem silly, but practice your answers to questions in an interview    whether you do so talking in a mirror or utilizing a friend or professor. They can ask you questions that you are not expecting and you can see how you are able to handle the pressure.
  • When you’re there, take a deep breath. This is not the end of the world. Jobs are important, yes, but don’t treat this as a life or death situation. Psyching yourself out won’t lead to a better interview. Before applying or going to an interview, turn off your phone. You won’t be constantly looking down at it waiting for a notification.
  • When you are done with your interview, have a thank you card or a business card of yours handy. This is something that employers will put on their desk and probably look at later. Make sure your contact information is on it, because they will most likely contact you later.

Take these tips and tricks to heart, and know no matter what, there are always internships out there.