7 Steps to Landing Your Dream Internship
Savannah Bice | Lindenwood University Collegiate DECA
Searching for that perfect summer internship can be a very stressful experience. Not only is it hard to find the ultimate opportunity, but it is another thing to actually land that opportunity.
My last spring semester was spent applying to my top choice companies, editing my resume (and then editing it again) and preparing for interviews. After a few months of utter chaos, I landed my dream internship at Microsoft.
Although it was one of the most rigorous interview processes I have ever been through, I want to shed some light on how I did it successfully – and how you can too.
#1 Narrow Down Your Top Companies
Aimlessly applying to companies that you have limited knowledge on is a complete waste of time. Even if you do end up securing an interview, there is no way of knowing that you would even like to intern for that company. In the beginning of my search, I listed the top ten companies that I wanted to work for. I did this by deciding the top industries I wanted to work in, one of them being the tech industry. Once you have your top companies, this can make the process of internship hunting much easier. Why? Because you are giving all your focus and energy to just a few companies, and recruiters will notice the difference.
#2 Conduct Research and Make Study Guides
Never assume an interview will be only behavioral questions. Case studies and technical questions are something that should be expected, so don’t be caught off guard. During one of my interviews with Microsoft, I was asked a question about Office 365. Instead of staying in my chair to answer the question, I joined the interviewer at the whiteboard and solved the problem by working it out and discussing it with the interviewer.
The person interviewing you will also want to see if you have an understanding and a basic knowledge of the company. Reading online blogs or searching through the company website is the best way to discover potential interview questions and company specifics. Before interviewing with Microsoft, I read their 10-K statement and other company documents. I took all the information I learned and put it into a study guide, which gave me something to study during my spare time. You will be surprised at how much information you can pull from these documents in your interviews.
#3 Revise Your Résumé and Cover Letter (Again and Again)
Three words: don’t be generic. Many companies set up a resume filter that looks for certain detail words and then tosses out the resumes that don’t include these words. If your resume doesn’t make the cut, it will never even be read by a person in HR. Take a close look at the internship description and see how closely it aligns with your resume and cover letter. Show your best qualities and genuine interest in the specific company through the writing in your cover letter.
Since you are applying to only a handful of companies, personalizing your cover letter won’t be too much work. State how your experience and qualifications directly align with the internship description. Your resume and cover letter are representations of you, so make sure they are something people would want to read!
#4 Gather Recommendation Letters
Even if an online application or university recruiter doesn’t ask for them – include them. Many online applications give you a chance to upload additional documents and this is where your recommendation letters should go. If you have no recommendation letters specifically for your internship search – ask for them! Past employers, university professors, or organization advisors should be willing to help if you ask them to write a recommendation outlining your work ethic and qualifications. These recommendation letters will go a long way when adding to your application.
#5 Conduct Even More Research (Even for a Phone Screening)
Once you do get an interview, conduct more research! Using Glassdoor as a resource for potential interview questions is a great way to develop an understanding of what the interviewer may ask you. If you have a study guide typed up, then this gives you something to go off during a phone screening. However, be sure not to read directly off the study guide and sounding too rehearsed.
During an in-person interview, you will be able to pull the information that you studied into your interview and impress the interviewer even more. Don’t forget that phone screenings are usually a casual phone call and the interviewer just wants to know your what your personality is like, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your research!
#6 Show Your Passion for the Company
After studying and reading about Microsoft, I developed an even deeper passion for the company. Learning about their mission and how they treat their employees gave me a great desire to want to work there for my summer internship. This passion showed during my interview, especially during the more behavioral and personal questions that were asked. Don’t be afraid to show what attracts you to a company – they want to know that you have a genuine interest in working there.
#7 Send Thank You Notes (or E-mails) After Interviews
This should be a no-brainer, but it is still surprising how many students don’t send thank you notes to their interviewers. Never underestimate what a simple thank you note or e-mail can do for you. Most likely, you will be interviewing with other students who are just as qualified. A simple thank you note can put you over the top, especially in a competitive interview process. This gesture will also solidify your interest in the position and keep you on their minds. Make sure you take the time to construct the message well as it could be the last impression you give them before they make the decision to hire you.
There is no doubt that the internship search is a stressful process. Taking the time to walk through these steps will help increase your chances of landing your dream summer internship and hopefully make the process a little easier. Good luck and happy hunting!
This article was written by former Collegiate DECA Vice President and Lindenwood University Collegiate DECA member, Savannah Bice. You can follow Savannah on Twitter @SavannahBice_.