What to do – and what not to do – to impress internship coordinators.
There’s still snow on the ground and already the applications are pouring in. I almost can’t believe it–I’m not ready for summer yet, so why is everybody else?
The people who coordinate summer internships can be easily overwhelmed by the volume of queries they receive. So here, encapsulated for you, are some tips for making yourself a more attractive candidate by making internship coordinators’ lives easier. They just may reward you with the summer situations you seek.
#1. Search the Internet: When you hear of an internship and don’t know much–or anything–about the company sponsoring the position, don’t call the internship coordinator and ask, “So what does your company do?” This is information you should be able to find on your own by doing five minutes of research.
Search the Web, look in back issues of business magazines, or ask a career counselor at your school to direct you to a reference guide. Show that you’re resourceful. A capable and savvy person doesn’t call and say, “Hi, this is Scott Brown and I’d like to be a lawyer someday and, um, are you a law firm?”
#2. Read the listing thoroughly: If you see an interesting internship listing in a school bulletin or on the Web, read it completely before asking questions. Don’t be the applicant who says, “Hi. I saw your listing in Monster and I wanted to know if you offer a salary,” when that information is clearly displayed. Or worse: “Hi, I wanted to know if you have an address?” Yes, I do. Look it up.
#3. Follow directions: When you apply, send all the requested information. Check your notes carefully to make sure you’ve included references, project ideas and any other application materials listed in the job posting. If you don’t send a complete application, a busy internship director probably won’t make time to call and ask you for the missing information. Frankly, only you care whether you get a job or not. Sifting through cover letters and resumes is time-consuming; employers are happy to find reasons to eliminate applicants. So if your application is missing information, it may be excluded without a second thought.
#4. Write a cover letter: You can use the same cover letter structure for most of your applications, but don’t write a generic letter and simply address it “to whom it may concern.” Show you’re really interested in working for a particular organization by becoming familiar with its goals and products, offering specific examples of how your talents could be used. You don’t have to go into great detail, but dropping in a few careful comments (“…and I’d love to put my HTML skills to work and help redesign your “About” page…”) can set you apart from the undistinguishable competition.
#5. Do NOT make wierd requests: Don’t ask for application materials to be returned unless they are rare and valuable. An applicant once asked me to photocopy his resume and return the original to him. Not only was I surprised and baffled, but he didn’t even include a return envelope. Remember that internships involve trade: We offer students professional experience and training in exchange for help around the office. This kid did not strike that helpful note.
#6. Do NOT make multiple phone calls: Do not One call to see if your application arrived intact is fine. If you place two or more follow-up calls, you risk annoying the person taking those calls. If you’re suddenly struck by pressing questions that have to be answered immediately, write them down and ask them all in one phone conversation or e-mail message. Use your best manners and make it clear you appreciate someone’s time and assistance — answering your questions might be part of his or her primary job, but it might not.
#7. Do NOT ask if you GOT the job: Don’t call to ask if you “got the internship.” If you did, you’ll hear (probably by phone). If you haven’t heard, assume the decisions haven’t been made yet. Many internship coordinators have other daily responsibilities and they won’t always have time to keep you updated on your application’s status. It’s not that they want to blow you off–they just have other things to do.