6 unsolicited tips for students applying for an internship

I help run my company’s internship program for our office. Each season, I’m amazed at what I see in terms of resumes, cover letters, emails, etc. Each season I keep a list (for myself) of some of the crazy things students do to hurt their chances of getting an internship – all of which could be avoided!

So, this semester, I’m doing something about it. I’m sharing some tips for students (or really anyone applying for a job) when applying for an internship. Really, these are things to AVOID when applying for a job. And yes, I’ve seen all of these things in the past few years.

6 unsolicited tips for students applying for an internship:* (*I’m not an HR professional or a hiring professional or a spokesperson for my company – these are just tips in my opinion)

  1. If you can, personalize your initial outreach. If the document says to send your resume and cover letter to Melissa Koski, please send it to Melissa Koski. Not “hiring manager” or “whom it may concern.”
  2. If you personalize your outreach, spell the person’s name right! If the document says to send your resume and cover letter to Melissa Koski, please send it to Melissa Koski. Not “Malissa Koski” or “Melissa Kosky” (how did you spell my email address melissa.koski correctly??) 2b: spell the company’s name right. Just as important. And yes, people spell the company’s name wrong all the time.
  3. Personalize your outreach, but don’t make it obvious. I understand you’re applying for multiple jobs and multiple internships. I was once in your shoes. But please don’t send a cover letter with everything in one font and size, and the company name and my name in a different font and size.
  4. Take a little time to apply for the position. Don’t send a blank email with your cover letter and resume simply attached. At the very least, you can write “attached is my cover letter and resume” or simply copy your cover letter into the body of the email! A blank email says to me “I don’t care about this job enough to spend the time writing one sentence.”
  5. Proof your document – but don’t show me you proofed it. Hopefully all of the above can be avoided by a simple proofing of your resume, cover letter and email. Read it aloud! Read it backwards! Have someone else read it! But, don’t keep track changes on in your document and show me how your teacher/mom/friend edited your cover letter and resume. I’m glad you had someone take the time to read it – but you don’t need to prove it. (Again, yes, I’ve gotten documents showing track changes).
  6. If you’re applying for a job where you’ll use social media, share your experience with social media – but don’t overshare. Do you include a link to your LinkedIn/Facebook/Twitter account on your resume? Awesome! I LOVE to see that. It shows me you’re fluent with some of the social tools we use in our industry. But please please PLEASE make sure you’re censoring your profile first. What does this mean? Don’t include a link to your Twitter profile on your resume if all you’re tweeting about is parties, drinking (are you even 21?), skipping journalism class and hating Ohio.
There are so many more tips I could share and things to avoid, but I’ll save that for another time. In the meantime, if I haven’t scared you off, and you’re interested in working with me this fall as a PR intern, send a resume and cover letter by August 7 to melissa.koski@fahlgren.com, indicating “Cleveland Fall Internship” in the email subject line.
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One thought on “6 unsolicited tips for students applying for an internship

  1. She’s not as scary as she seems, folks! She’s actually dreamy to work with. But take every syllable of her tip sheet to heart. Every syllable.

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