Choosing the right type of internship for you might seem daunting at first. But with careful planning and research, you’ll quickly arrive at the rough idea where you want to work. Then comes the hard question – how do you stand out when applying in the midst of fierce competition? A common misconception among students is that they need to exactly match the list of job requirements in order to be considered for the internship. So what exactly are HR officers looking for in applicants?
Here are some tips on what you should focus on if you want to stand out when applying to internships.
Tip #1: Build a Personal Website
While this might seem odd for a first tip, here is why you should build a personal website before you start applying to internships. Nothing says you are keeping up with modern technology trends as having a personal website, i.e. your online resume.
Having a personal website will definitely set you apart from the rest of the applicants, as it adds a touch of professionalism, immediately boosts up your set of skills, and it gives you space to share what you find interesting, relevant or want people to know about you.
In one of our researches, we found that 67% of recruiters believe that a personal website provides more insight than a resume alone.
If you are uncertain what you should include on your website, here’s some advice on the contents of a personal website.
Oh, and if you dare say “I’m not a programmer, I don’t know how to build a website”, stop right there. Here’s how to build a website, zero programming skills required.
Tip #2: Think Outside the Box: Brand Yourself
Most of the time we focus so hard on making sure we cover all the listed job requirements, that we forget the most important thing – our personality. What most HR officers look for is someone, besides great work ethic, is a unique person. But what does that mean?
We all want to get recognition in the professional world, and get hired for your expertise. But to do that, you need to work on your personal brand. This entails promoting your skills, experience and personality that you want employers to see. How to do that?
Start by thinking outside the box – figure out what makes you unique. Then utilise that and make it your selling point. Build your identity around your values and show you personality, that will make you stand out from the competition. In order to incorporate your personal brand into your website, make sure to convey your unique selling point to your ‘about me’ page. Other elements such as logo, website design, colour palette and others make a visual representation of yourself. Make sure these are also in line with your brand personality.
“I think I was chosen due to my work as well as my personality. I was able to really connect with my supervisor and asked many questions that I genuinely was interested in. It is important to be yourself and let them know things about you that are not already on your resume. It is important to show your personality through social media, especially during these times when we are trying to distance ourselves. Employers will see it and it can definitely help you land a position but do your best to keep your platforms positive. It can be the factor whether you land the job or not.”Plina Nguyen
Senior at University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Tip #3: Devote Time to Networking
Networking is not everyone’s cup of tea, and it’s certainly not the majority’s favourite pastime either. Sure it can be awkward and time-consuming, but establishing long-term relationships that can benefit your career is vital for your success. Remember, networking is not about exchanging your contact information. It is about creating those long-lasting connections that will help you knock on the doors, get the job, learn about the industry happenings and exchange opinions.
While we perceive networking as a face to face activity, the good news is (especially during these confusing times) you can network online too! Some general ones are LinkedIn, Meetup, SharpNetworking, Tribemine.
“My university carries these career fairs and networking events, and they make me so nervous but once you actually attend and talk to the professionals, you realize that it’s just normal conversation.”Vivian Nguyen
Junior at Nova Southeastern University
Tip #4: Tailor Your Resume to the Job
Here’s the deal. You can apply to as many internships as you want, for as long as you do a proper research about the company you are applying to. Employers expect that you want to work for their company. If they notice the lack of interest in your application (caused by the lack or research), it is unlikely you’ll be called for the interview, no matter how good your resume might seem. Why is this? Simple. The application for an internship must convince the employer that you feel enthusiastic about the prospect of working for the company. You can express this enthusiasm with a thorough research and understanding of the company’s work. Show them how they can benefit from your ideas, background and soft skills.
Keep in mind that the internships are there for you to learn too! So make sure to point out how you’d benefit from being the intern at the chosen company. Your application should speak of ways in which the position would prompt you to grow and develop your skills.
“The greatest advice I received when applying for internships is to tailor your resume to what you are applying for. I remember a professor telling me that it takes less than a minute for employers to look over your resume to consider you. It is okay to have a general resume, but when you do the work in tailoring it to the position, you are giving yourself a better chance for an interview.”Plina Nguyen
Senior at University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
“I try to make sure that the internship has something I am interested in learning about or is a part of the specific field I am trying to get into for future jobs. I also try to apply to internships that will not only help me grow but a company I can help out as well.”Jessica Lazzari
Senior at the University of Iowa
Tip #5: Soft Skills – “Cultural Fit”
As technical demands for any job are constantly evolving, the technical skills you have today might not be sufficient for the job you will be asked to do tomorrow. This is why employers started putting more weight on soft skills as new logical criteria for differentiating candidates. These can include positive traits and skills such as good assertive communication, high emotional and social intelligence, willingness to share knowledge with others, and whether you are a good cultural fit for their company or not.
“I think I have a lot of personal skills that made me a good candidate such as being a leader and being trilingual, but I know I have weaknesses. With that, I think what contributed most to being chosen for the internship is my willingness to learn anything I don’t already know, and I am always pursuing ways to grow as an individual.”Iris España
Sophomore at the University of Iowa
Tip #6: Qualitative, not Quantitative!
When listing your past jobs and internships, make sure you take a tactful approach. Instead of listing all the job positions you’ve held, and writing down only general skills you’ve acquired, try to focus on a few jobs that best describe your experience and are relevant to the position you are applying for. Remember, quality overrules quantity always! So, when you are describing the details of your prior experience, make sure you’re not just giving job descriptions. The rule of the thumb should be: if that sentence could go on any other resume, then it might not be the best idea to put it in yours.
We had a chance to talk to PR Interns for LadyBossBlogger who were kind enough to share their experiences and tips on how to stand out when applying to internships.