How to Get that First Intership

Everyone is always looking for that “foot in the door”, that one opportunity that will help pave the beginning of his or her professional career, but how does one get that opportunity to get that internship, let alone stand out from the thousands of other students? As a freshman, I’ve personally asked myself these questions numerous times. Here is a list of things that I have found helpful in terms of getting a job or that first internship:

Network, network, network.

It’s crazy how all the hype these days has a lot to do with gaining a larger network. One of the keys to success is networking a ridiculous amount, yet people still don’t seem to do it. Some people still have not realized that the people you meet may not necessarily be the ones offering you a job, but those same people may know people who can. The bigger your network is, the more opportunities you may be offered.

Going along this same idea, you must also go outside of your comfort zone and walk up to professionals at job and internship fairs and introduce yourself. You must understand that you have to put yourself out there and become well-known in order to become successful.

Post fair.

Hypothetically speaking, let’s say you did it – you went to a internship or job fair and you found the perfect internship. What you do in the next 24 hours will be the determining factor in whether you get called in for an interview or just get passed on like the rest. Marketing yourself goes beyond going to a fair, handing the representative a copy of your resume, and hoping they’ll call you back. You have to keep in mind that at least 200 other students did the same thing. 200 people, maybe 4 spots, what makes you different?

So here’s something you can do to stand out – email them. It’s as simple as that. Hopefully you had asked for a business card after you handed them your resume. The day after the fair send them an email using the address provided on their business card saying something like: “Hello, I spoke to you yesterday regarding the internship you have posted. I’m very interested and would love to get more information” so on so forth. It’s also important to make them remember you. Bring up something you two had discussed at the fair. I would even attach an additional copy of your resume just so they are forced to look at yours rather than search through their large stacks of other resumes.

Set up informational meetings.

If you didn’t attend any internship or job fair, another option you have to stand out from hundreds of cyber resumes is setting up informational meetings with professionals. Informational meetings are a great way to network and learn a little bit more about a specific company or the industry. These types of interactions are extremely helpful if you don’t know anyone who works in the agency or business that you want to get into. It’s pretty obvious that everyone loves talking about him or herself, and no matter how busy someone is I’ve found that most professionals have an hour or so to get coffee with a student.

The most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to informational meetings is that it is NOT an interview. Don’t go into the meeting expecting to get a job offer, or to even talk about yourself. This meeting is about talking to the professional and asking them about how they got in the industry, their experiences, etc. If they do ask you about yourself, you should definitely answer, but don’t always expect that too happen. 

A way to get in touch with these professionals is by cold emailing. Basically this means finding the directory and sending out an email introducing yourself, and asking for a time to meet. This may seem intimidating, but it definitely pays off.

These are just a couple of suggestions and things to think about as you start applying and looking over applications for summer internships and jobs! Good luck to all of my fellow PRSSA members who are younger like myself and looking to get their foot in the door.

This post was written by Mohamed Sakallah (@msakallah5) and edited/posted by Kelsey Darnall (@KelseyJDarnall).

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About The New Take - University of Minnesota

Fresh new thoughts from writers in the University of Minnesota's PRSSA chapter.

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