Internship Tips and Tricks
Spring is in the air and the final countdown until the end of the semester is on. This time of year an HR managers’ email inbox fills up with resumes and cover letters (hopefully they’ve included a cover letter) of eager internship candidates. Over the last four years, I have read nearly 3,000 resumes and participated in dozens of interviews. I’ve seen interviews good, bad and ugly.
I am sharing a selection of helpful hints for internship candidates out there who want to make the best first impression. Here are a few “do's and don’ts” that should improve your chances at nabbing the internship of your dreams.
- Don’t forget to send a cover letter – We want to see your writing skills. It can be an opportunity to highlight interesting experience that won’t stand out on your resume. It is also an opportunity to show us your personality!
- Don’t send a generic cover letter – We can tell! HR managers receive on average 160 resumes and cover letters per internship cycle. Yes, there are some parts of your cover letter that will be standard, however if you don’t show that you have done a bit of research on the company or highlight why you would be a good fit, your email will quickly go in the trash bin.
- Don’t ‘wing it”– Do your research. Be prepared for an interview. Have questions, know who you are speaking with to show a genuine interest in the company. If you are not prepared, it will show. Not only is a waste the time for all those involved, you will look unprofessional and uninterested.
- Do send an updated resume – Put your best foot forward when sending your resume and ensure it is a current reflection of your experience. Keeping it to one page is also helpful. Brevity is a skill.
- Do Proofread – Ask your roommate to read it. Ask your mom to read it. There is nothing worse than reading a resume and finding a spelling error or a “there” when you meant to say “their.” Attention to detail is important; HR managers are looking for stellar candidates who care about their work product.
- Do follow-up – HR managers are busy and usually wear multiple hats in a company. Follow-up within 72 hours after submitting your resume. It shows interest in the role and allows for another way to stand out.
- Do be honest – Honesty goes a long way. We can usually spot a fibber quickly. I had a great interview with someone who had no experience in financial PR, but she expressed that she thought it might be a budding interest. She was honest and used her lack of experience as a reason why an internship at Cognito would provide a perfect opportunity to learn. A year later she is a valued employee at our NY office.
- Do use social media – More companies are using social media as a way to share information about corporate culture and their work. It’s a great way to learn their internal voice and provides research not found on their website.
- Do send Thank You notes – Thank you notes are important. They provide an opportunity to reiterate why you are the right person for the role and keep you top of mind. Send a Thank You note within 24 hours of an interview. *Bonus points if it is hand written and delivered via snail mail – it is a pleasant surprise for any HR manager!
As you start thinking about how to apply for your dream internship, don’t forget to put your best foot forward. Use every opportunity you can to stand out from other applicants. Most importantly, use each interview and application as a learning tool: find out what works best for you and what doesn’t.
We are always on the hunt for energetic and excited new talent. If you are interested in a role with Cognito, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy hunting!
Cognito is a financial PR and marketing firm.
- Cognito Media,