By Lea Mercado
Web Content Assistant Manager
It is that time of year again: internship season. The time where college students finally update their resumes, cave into writing cover letters and learn how to market their skills to employers.
While searching for internships can be an exciting process, it can also be exhausting. So here are a few strategies that have made my internship search significantly less painful.
Organize Your Dates
While being a student makes you somewhat accustomed to deadlines, it is easy to get caught up in the business of academic deadlines and miss career opportunities.
Generally, internship season begins a month or two before beginning a new semester. For example, while January and February are great months to search for a spring internship, the end of the spring semester will bring summer internship openings.
While it is always beneficial to begin your search early, the latest you’ll want to begin searching for internships is about two months prior to the start of your semester. Even if the applications aren’t open yet, many employers will still create the posting, which gives you an upper hand on preparation before the application opens.
(Note: Since summer internships are more competitive and demanding, they will often begin opening as early as the end of the fall semester. I’ve found that the best time to apply to summer internships in my industry is late November.)
Resumes and Cover Letters
Your resume and cover letter are the first impressions your hiring manager has of you; make it count.
Be sure to extensively proofread your resume and ensure that your intended message is getting across. Once you’ve read your resume for clarity, I suggest passing it along to a trusted friend or mentor to review it again. No matter how detailed one may be, repetitively reading over the same document can make you blind to errors that another would surely catch.
If you don’t have someone to forward your resume to, Texas State offers a free online resume reviewing service. You’ll fill out a form, upload your document, and someone will contact you in a couple of days with their thoughts and revisions.
Once you’re confident about your resume, it’s time to work on your cover letters. Cover letters tend to be very mysterious for college students who are just being introduced to the professional job market.
To state it plainly: Cover letters are brief summaries of your experiences and qualifications appropriate for the specific job you are applying for.
Since cover letters should be tailored to the position, I suggest writing at least two cover letters highlighting different skills. This way, you won’t have to write entirely new cover letters for each application process, but they can be adjusted and edited as you see fit.
Make sure to look to other industry professionals for advice on cover letters as they do slightly vary by industry.
As a journalism major, I found resources on NPR that highlight common cover letter mistakes because NPR is a major media organization, and if you can learn from the best, do it.
It’s Never Too Early to Network
Today, most students are familiar with LinkedIn for jobs or portfolio building, but LinkedIn is an incredibly powerful resource for getting advice on internship applications. Through LinkedIn, you can search for employees at the company you’re applying to, and sometimes, even Texas State alumni.
Not too crazy about LinkedIn’s interface? Handshake offers similar connection resources.
On the top of select job postings, Handshake will offer to connect you with the hiring manager either through chat or video. From there, you can speak to them about the process, company’s values and even get some advice on nailing your interview. Most importantly, the hiring manager will recognize your name.
While sorting through resumes, familiarity separates you from potentially hundreds of other names and can even be the very reason you land the interview.
While strategies from others are always helpful, it is important to figure out what works for you and your industry which will happen over time and through practice.
Just remember, it only takes one yes.
Featured Image by Lea Mercado
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