As a college student, finding an internship geared towards your interests and goals can always be tough. Add a global pandemic to that and, well, it may seem impossible. Having gone through this stressful process, which many of you are probably experiencing now, or will be soon, I have picked up some useful tips for success in your search. Here are some pieces of advice that helped me obtain a bomb, resume-building internship:
Choose an industry that is vital during a pandemic. For instance, public relations. Though an agency would not be considered an “essential business” by the current definition, PR is certainly an essential component of any business during this phase. Every company has had to alter their public relations plan to fit the current situation, whether that be in terms of developing a crisis response plan or simply a different way to promote their product or service. Not only that, but every company must continue to be on their toes and ready to make adjustments to their PR strategy with each new development. This makes the PR field a great choice for an internship during difficult times.
Seek out connections. This doesn’t mean that your brother’s soccer coach’s wife must be a big-time CEO of a Fortune 500 company in order for you to succeed; For me, it turned out to just be a friend of a friend who works at a local agency that happens to offer internships. Connections of any kind are always helpful to have, but especially during a time in which there are significantly more people applying to the same jobs as you. Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you should disconnect; You can still grow your network – even if it’s virtual.
Tough it up and write a cover letter. Though it may be (always is) the last thing you want to spend time on, it has a purpose. Cover letters are especially important when inquiring with a company about their need for an intern, even if they do not have internship opportunities posted. The cover letter tells the potential employer where your expertise lies, how your experience relates to them, what type of experience you are seeking out, and what you can bring to the company. When you’re applying for a position that involves writing (PR) it’s also a great way to showcase your writing ability. A cover letter explains much more than a one-page resume can and increases your chances of hearing back from employers. It’s a chance to show them who you are and how much effort you’re willing to put in.
Work on your phone presence. Even before COVID-19 there has almost always been a phone interview before an in-person interview. Now the hiring process may end by phone as well. For those who tend to rely on face-to-face connections in interviews to seal the deal (myself included), the lack of that type of communication can be detrimental to your chances of receiving an offer. This just means you should spend more time becoming comfortable with conducting professional conversations via phone or video calls. It often feels easier to be yourself and let your personality shine when meeting employers face-to-face, but practice will help you to stay relaxed and be more personable for your next phone interview.
*Pro Tip: Smile! Even though you’re on the phone, your demeanor and attitude will show through in your voice – good and bad – even when you aren’t face-to-face.
These tips will help you take the first steps toward finding an internship that is valuable to your future success. To achieve your educational and professional goals you must always remember that persistence is key. Never allow your motivation to dwindle in defeat. Looking back from start to finish, overcoming obstacles is always worth the wait – and the effort – if it means reaching your goals.
By Anna Blanton
BAERING Intern, Summer 2020