By: Alisa Popple
On October 9th, members of PRSSA, AAF, AMA, IABC, and WIC gathered in the Park Auditorium to hear about the internship experiences of 10 IC students. The event was led by moderator, Shayna Dunitz (’13). Shayna is the Campus Programs Manager at Intern Queen – a database available to students for information regarding internship applications for companies, tips and tricks for the interviewing process, and posts from interns sharing their experiences. Our panelists were junior and senior communications & business majors, whom provided valuable insight on their internship experience. Internships are such a helpful tool in getting the experience you need outside of the classroom and it is important to know how to search for them, how to apply, how to get it, and what your experience might be like there.
Many of our panelists had diverse experiences in finding their internships. Here are some tips and resources that may be helpful to you:
Use your connections on social media sites like LinkedIn and Facebook to keep in touch with people and see what they may be able to offer you.
Do a simple google search and clicking through a website to find where to contact the company and ask for more information. You could also send them your resume and cover letter there.
Pay attention to what Career Services sends out. They may have internship opportunities linked in e-mails, or there could be in interesting networking event being offered on campus, or you may just want to stop by and see if they can help you out.
Come to Career Services during Drop In Hours, where someone at the office can take you through the IC Alumni Directory and you can find alumni in the field you’d like to be in, city you’d like to be in, company you’d like to work for, or a combination of the 3 that you can get in contact with. Bombers helping bombers is real. Ithaca alumni want to hire IC students as interns or other IC alumni as employees.
There are databases and websites available to you to make your search easier and more direct. Www.internqueen.com. Www.thecreativeham.com is a website that lists all major cities across the U.S. and can tell you all of the advertising agencies (even though this is PRSSA, shhhhh) within those cities. Another helpful source is the Park internship database. It lists where internships are being offered at all of the places the School of Communications has connections to, either through alumni or through previous student interns.
How to Make Yourself Stand Out
“Be Honest with Yourself!” Express your goals and interests in your cover letter and make it a representation of you. Everyone is sending in the same cookie cutter resume and cover letter, so make yours stand out. Companies want to hire interns that they’ll enjoy. Another way to make yourself stand out, as one of our panelists did, is to make a personal website – squarespace.com is an easy tool to use. You can put in your interests and your quirks, but make sure you’re putting what they want to see and what is going to sell it for you.
Additionally, something on a smaller scale that will go a long way, and will be appreciated by your interviewer, is knowing the company. Do your part to find out everything you can about the company has done, where the industry is headed, and what the company is doing currently. If you know who your interviewer will be, research them. As one of our panelists said, “once you find out your interviewer, stalk the crap out of them”. Find out what they’ve done with their career so far, the type of work they’re involved in – it will stick with the interviewer and they’ll remember the interest that you took in the company and the position, in addition to whatever other charm you bring to the interview.
After the Interview
After the interview there are still a few more things that you can do to be remembered-
Write a handwritten thank you note. Handwritten notes are authentic and genuine. They tell the interviewer that you appreciated their time regardless of whether you explicitly stated it or not. It doesn’t have to be intensely detailed, just a short message to the interviewer expressing your gratitude. Do this IMMEDIATELY after the interview. Go to the closest Starbucks or somewhere you can sit down and write it. For some companies, even that is not quick enough. In those cases, send a thank you e-mail to stay in their minds and then send the thank you note along later.
Also, KEEP IN TOUCH. Don’t just say you will, actually do it. If you got the interview through another contact let them know how much they’ve helped you by filling them in, and they will keep their eyes open for you for future opportunities.
Check in with all of your contacts 3 times a year. Just find out how things are going at work, maybe personally if you know them well, what they are up to professionally, once again showing your interest and being remembered. By staying connected with people, you open yourself to their extended networks.
The Value of an Internship
Internships aren’t just making copies and coffee runs anymore. You’re given the opportunity to practice what you’ve learned in the classroom in real situations, and you learn aspects of the job and business that couldn’t possibly be learned in the classroom setting. Many of our panelists said the most rewarding part of their internship experience was feeling like they were a part of the team. They felt valued and connected with other team members or coworkers and were making real contributions to the company.
As an intern, you become fully immersed and become a part of the action. You’re given the opportunity to work on a project, and to struggle through something if you’re having trouble. Some people love their internships and love the experience they had and are certain that is the field they want to be in or the type of work they want to be doing for their career, others might not have the same experience. One may think that they got the internship of their dreams, but then after working that job they find out that field is not for them. That’s okay. It gives them the chance to figure out what they do and don’t like, to explore other opportunities, and find their calling. Getting to know and staying in touch with fellow interns is important- these are the people you will be working with in the future, whether through the same project, company, or industry ties your careers will be closely connected. Internships are a necessary part of being in the working world. They allow you to get your foot in the door and get a taste for your future career and experiences, so stick your neck out and see what you find.
Use your resources- use everything you have available to search for an internship. There are databases, services, events, and networks that you have access to so take advantage of them.
Do your research– looking for an internship, writing your cover letter, and going into the interview. Make sure you’re exploring your options and make sure you know that company.
Be honest with yourself– keep your career goals, the type of work environment you want to be in, and what your interests are in mind. Companies want someone they will enjoy being with, so show them who you are.
KEEP IN TOUCH! This cannot be stressed enough. Stay in contact with the people you meet. Connect with and let them know that you’re still interested.
We hope this helps you! Good luck to all on your internship searching, and may the odds be ever in your favor!