By: Marissa Piffer, President
Believe it or not, the fall semester will be over in a blink of an eye. It may sound crazy, but many students have already started looking for spring internships for next semester. While it may seem overreaching, this is actually prime time for students to start looking. As you think about your internship quest, be sure to keep the following tips and tricks in mind before and after stepping in for an interview.
Clean up your social media
Before applying for any internship, you should ALWAYS take time to look at your social media. Browse through your feed and Google yourself – whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn or any other social media sites accessible to the public. Ask yourself…”Would I feel comfortable having my future employer look at this?” Find time to clean up your profiles, such as photos, professional summaries and your experience list. Before interviewing you, employers will often conduct a quick Google search to get a good sense of who you are and your personal brand.
Target the search
Applying to internships can be difficult when you don’t necessarily know what field you want to gain experience in. Take time to familiarize yourself with different industries and companies that interest you. From agencies to corporate and nonprofit, the choices seem endless. Compile a list of internships you’re interested in, and jot down a few reasons why that specific position interests you.
Ask for help from fellow peers
Being a member of PRSSA is a wonderful opportunity because your peers may have already had multiple internships in industries you’re interested in. Take time to ask your PRSSA peers about their experiences and what internships they recommend. Ask them to grab coffee or send a quick email with questions you may have. Sometimes speaking with your peers can help you connect the dots, and we want to help!
Email like a pro
While some internships have online applications, other employers will ask you to email your resume. Sending the first email can be intimidating, but here are a few tips to keep in mind before hitting “send.”
Have a professional introduction. Always open the email with “Dear Ms/Mr. __________.”
Introduce yourself. Three key areas of your introduction are your first and last name, what school you attend and your major.
Name Drop. If someone from the company recommended you, briefly mention them in the email (only if that person gives permission!)
Don’t talk about your experience too much. You aren’t summarizing your entire resume through email, but be sure to mention why that position is a good fit for you.
Close with a call to action. End the email in a way that would initiate a call to action on the employer’s end. (For example, “Thank you and I’m looking forward to discussing this opportunity further!”)
Have a professional closing. Sincerely, Marissa Piffer OR Best, Marissa Piffer.
Review your resume. Before sending your resume in, have your professors, mentors or the career center take a look at it for any suggestions or feedback.
Send your resume as a PDF. 99 percent of the time, employers will not open any attachments from new senders if it isn’t a PDF.
Have your email peer-edited. Before hitting send, have someone else take a look at your email draft. No matter how many times you read over your own writing, it is easy to miss those spelling/grammar errors. The first email to a potential employer is always a serious first impression, so make it count!
Here is a sample email where I’ve put these tips to use when applying to my current internship:
Do your research before the interview
After sending your resume to an employer, the best outcome is being asked to come in for an interview. Before going into the interview, make sure you are knowledgeable about the company. You don’t have to know every single detail, but show that you took the time to familiarize yourself with the company and the people who work there. When the employer asks if you have any questions, make sure to ask specific questions about the company that shows you did a little research.
Interview Tip: My padfolio (pictured below) becomes my best friend during interviews. In my padfolio, I typically write down some talking points I can bring into the interview after doing some research on the company. Having a padfolio is also great to carry around writing samples, extra resumes, business cards and take notes during your interview.
Overall, it is important to remember that interviews are just conversations! Don’t sweat the small stuff and be yourself.
Whether or not you think the interview went well, following up with an employer is always best practice. A simple “thank you” can go a long way, and will certainly help you stick out from the crowd. A good time frame to send a “thank you” email or note is typically 1-3 days, so make it timely!