Posted by Tessa Wegert on March 22, 2016
What are you doing this summer? If you’re a student or a soon-to-be grad, odds are good you’re hoping the answer is an internship.
Besides providing real-world experience in your chosen line of work, a summer internship can help you make inroads into increasingly competitive fields like marketing, web development, and interactive design. LinkedIn reports that many Internet and design internships lead to full-time jobs, and that PR and communications firms are more likely to hire an intern than many other industries. So what are you waiting for? Here are five ways to land the perfect internship this year.
1. Identify Your Ideal Opportunity
There’s a tremendous amount of value in a summer internship—but only if you pick the right one. Start by examining your long-term career goals. Make a list of potential industries, companies, and roles that will propel you in the right direction. Ask yourself whether you’re willing to travel, and if the position could ultimately lead to a full-time job. And don’t forget about your passion! This is a chance to be intrepid and explore before committing to a career, so make bold choices. Your future self will thank you for it.
2. Spruce Up Your Portfolio
When your area of interest is advertising or design, your portfolio is your voice: the stronger it is, the more articulate and compelling you’ll appear as a candidate. Think carefully about how best to present your work. If you’re an illustrator with a lot of print projects, you may want to offer a physical copy rather than risk issues with digital image quality. If you’re eyeing a position in marketing, upload those videos you directed in your advertising class to a custom YouTube channel or dedicated Instagram page.
Use your portfolio to showcase your full range of experience, from the materials you’ve used to the digital platforms you’ve worked with. You might also consider pulling together an imaginative leave-behind that further demonstrates your creativity.
You may not think you have any connections that could lead to an internship with the company of your dreams, but in this age of social media, leads are everywhere. Leverage those Facebook and LinkedIn networks. Post a few words about the type of internship you’re looking for, and ask if anyone can help. Follow people who work in your target industry on Twitter, and engage them in conversation. Reach out to alumni for advice. If you’re honest, courteous, and enthusiastic, you’ll find that people are willing to go out of their way to help you make online connections.
4. Prepare to Nail Your Interview
You can hone your conversation skills and dress the part, but to really nail your internship interview, you need to ask questions rather than just answer them. What does the average workday look like for an intern? What defines the company’s culture? How many internships lead to jobs, and what does the employer look for in a full-time worker? If you can gain more insight into the position, you’ll be better equipped to determine if it’s a good fit—but showing an interest in the opportunity beyond how it will look on your resume also demonstrates a maturity and dedication that can set you apart from the pack.
5. Follow Up
Chances are you’re far from the only candidate interested in that internship gig, so no matter how well you think you did on your interview, following up afterward is vital. Send an email thanking the interviewer for their time immediately after your meeting. Then, a few days later, reiterate your interest in the opportunity with a physical thank-you card. Some human resources managers report that only 20 percent of students go to the trouble of sending such notes, so it “really brings those candidates to the top of the pile.”
Summer is still several months away, but prepping for an internship early is the best way to ensure you’ll be spending it shaping your future career.
At Paladin, we can help find you an exceptional summer internship or job opportunity to kickstart your marketing career.