In the search for job experience, many students choose to apply for internships that are connected to their major field of study.
The search for a suitable internship can be overwhelming at times, partly because over the past few years the number of students applying for internships has increased. This means that employers can be more selective when it comes to choosing the right applicant.
But the biggest challenge students face to securing an internship is not the large applicant pool, but rather the mistakes students make while applying. Many students are unfamiliar with the peculiarities of this process and so end up making basic mistakes that keep their application out of the yes pile.
Here are the 7 deadliest sins you can make while choosing your internship.
1. Localizing your internship search
Many prospective-interns only search for internships in their local area, not far from home, college or university. However, if you live in a small town or in a rural area, your chances of finding a good internship are incredibly low.
Your best bet is to expand your search to other areas. Is there a nearby city where you can sublet an apartment for the month while you intern? Think about cities and big towns you’ve always wanted to visit, or places that are known for offering great opportunities in your field of study.
One thing to keep in mind, though, is the cost of living in another city. Moving to a bigger city for an internship may cost you on average $6,000, so make sure you have the funds to support yourself. Also, consider the connections you already have. For instance, do you have a college friend or relative who lives in a more populated district? Ask them if they would consider letting you live with them for the duration of your internship.
2. Not expanding your research
The tools you use to search for internships can have a big impact on the kinds and quality of internships you find. The internet is a great tool, but there are more ways to find the internship you truly want. You might also look in newspapers, magazines, and other periodicals.
Another great way to find a summer internship is through your current network. Ask your professors, friends, relatives, and other people you know if they know of any available internship opportunities. Consistently mention that you’re looking for an internship in conversations with other people, and the perfect offer will eventually find you.
3. Delaying your application
Many students tend to delay sending their applications. Some struggle with procrastination while others fear rejection.
Regardless of the reason, delaying your application might be the deadliest sin you can make, and in the end, you might lose the possibility to get an internship at all. Each employer has deadlines for internship applications and you are expected to submit your materials accordingly.
So pay attention to deadlines and make sure you get those applications in on time!
4. Failing to comply with the requirements
Every internship posting will include a list of required skills as well as what is needed to apply for the position. Required skills usually includes things like a certain degree path, communication skills, and the ability to work well with others. Before applying for any internship, make sure you meet these minimum requirements, otherwise, you may be deemed unqualified.
Additionally, pay close attention to the application requirements. Most internship applications ask for a cover letter, resume, and letter of recommendation. Applicants who fail to send in all of the listed required documents will not be considered.
And remember, each company will be looking for something different in their applicants and will have their own specific list of requirements, so make sure you tailor your cover letter accordingly and don’t just send the same one in to every employer.
5. Not updating your resume
Many applicants forget about their resumes when it comes to compiling their application documents. Some have previously written resumes from past jobs that they simply reuse while others will send the same resume they used on their college applications.
Although your cover letter is an important part of your application, your internship resume is just as integral. Employers will usually skim your resume first, and if they don’t like what they see they may move on without ever reading your cover letter.
Before you attach that resume, make sure you re-read it and update it as necessary. You may want to refine the skills section depending on the internship requirements. Or, you may have taken a college course that reflects your interest in the position and is the ideal addition to your educational experience section.
6. Forgetting to follow up
Recruiters go through tons of applications and resumes to choose the right interns for their companies. The selection process is very complicated, and it’s normal that recruiters don’t remember the name of each person.
The best thing you can do to increase your chances is to write an email to a recruiter saying “Thank you” for the opportunity and casually asking about the selection process. This will show that you’re really interested and better your chances of getting a particular internship.
This is especially true if you are selected for a phone (or video!) or in-person interview. Always, always follow-up with a note reiterating your interest in the position and why you feel you’d be a great fit at the company.
7. Avoiding big companies
Thinking that you’re not good enough to get an internship in a big company would be the biggest mistake you could ever make. Big companies want to hire those applicants who demonstrate an interest in the company and a commitment to work hard. Even if you think you don’t have a strong enough background in the field, you may prove to be the most passionate or hard working. In fact, sometimes big companies even prefer applicants with less experience as it allows them to train the interns in their techniques.
If you’re really excited about a particular company, even if its a big one, go for it! Even if you get rejected, you’ll know what to work on to improve your chances next time around.
Tools for internship search and success
So now you know the seven deadliest sins you can make during an internship search, but how can you avoid making them? Here are 4 tools to help you out.
- Internships.com One of the best internship databases with a huge selection of jobs and internships for every major. There are also international internships for those who’re not afraid to step out of their comfort zone.
- InternMatch.com This website offers an advanced search for internships as well as a blog and a forum where you can ask for help. It features many stories from interns and employers that will help you make the best choice.
- Experience.com This is a great, easy-to-use, internship search website. You simply enter your skills and information about your education, and the site will provide you will best-match results.
Searching for internships may be overwhelming and stressful, but as long as you’re confident and determined, you’ll find the internship you need.
About Lucy Benton: Lucy is a writing coach and an editor who finds her passion in expressing her own thoughts as a blogger. She currently works at Proessaywriting. She is constantly looking for ways to improve her skills and expertise. If you’re interested in working with Lucy, you can find her on Twitter.