Advice Nobody Tells You About Getting Your Dream Internship
Internships. If you’re in high school or college, everyone’s told you how you need to have one, like, yesterday. But the thing these people leave out? Where to even begin. So we went straight to the expert: Lauren Berger, who has earned the well-deserved title of Intern Queen. Lauren’s website posts internship opportunities, as well as actually-helpful advice on scoring a gig (even if you’ve never had one before). Below, we quizzed Lauren on everything from cover letters to thank you notes...plus, the stuff that nobody tells you about landing the job.
When is the right time to apply for a summer internship? And how long beforehand should you start preparing and researching possible opportunities?
The time is NOW! March is the most popular month for summer internships. Employers are looking, interviewing, and making offers and students are applying, interviewing, and getting offers. Start looking ASAP. Seriously, block out time this weekend to put your materials (resume, cover letter, etc.) together, organize references, and begin your search and application process. I challenge you to submit at least 10-20 applications by the end of the month!
What do you do if you're in high school and can't find an internship that takes someone so young? Is there any other way to jumpstart your career path?
Many employers don’t cater their internship programs to high school students. But that being said, it never hurts to ask and put yourself out there. I’d recommend just applying for the positions that interest you and clarifying on your resume and cover letter that you're in HS but are a very qualified candidate. Show them what you’ve done in school that's relevant to their company. The cover letter is a great place to express how passionate and qualified you are.
Let's talk thank you notes. Email vs. handwritten...does it make a difference when sending them to people you've interviewed with?
I say send both. Immediately following the interview, send an email thank you note. Right after that, send a hand-written thank you note that will hit their desk in 2 to 4 business days. This is how to land an internship and beat the competition.
Speaking of, how can someone with no real work experience set themselves apart to get their first-ever internship?
Flip the script. Focus on what you do have and not what you don’t have. If you don’t have previous internship experience, talk about your part-time jobs, campus leadership, volunteer experience, or relevant classes. Print out the internship application or job posting, go through it with a highlighter, focus on the buzzwords. What are they looking for? What skills do they want you to have? Now, go back to your resume. Can you incorporate what they are looking for in your materials?
What's your advice for looking for an internship when you don't even know where to begin?
1. Go to your career center. If you're in high school, go to your guidance counselor and ask if they know of any opportunities for you.
2. Use websites like mine and see if you find opportunities that work for you.
3. Do your research. For example, “magazine internships in Tampa, Florida.” Make a list of the interesting companies you find, and reach out to them. If you have to cold call or email, that’s OK. First, look at the website and see if internship application information is listed. If you can’t find anything, cold call!
What's your number one, can't-miss tip for people applying to a summer internship?
Include a cover letter that clearly states where you will be for the summer. Employers want to know that you are going to be 100% available. Use that cover letter to sell yourself. Make sure you come across passionate and professional. Another tip: Rejection is OK! It all starts with rejection. I was rejected over 100 times while applying for internships and I still managed to land a ton of great opportunities. Rejection just means you are on the right path. Keep going!
Check out Lauren's website and YouTube channel for bonus advice (because, let's be real, you can never have too much).