How to Land Your Dream Internship

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Want to land your dream internship? You're probably up against serious competition. Here are 4 tips to use to edge your way out and be the best candidate.Getting an internship in college should be everyone’s goal.

An internship will be one of your first hands-on experiences that allows you to learn about working in the field that you are studying to earn a degree in.

Needless to say, completing an internship by the time you graduate college is a must, if not a requirement, by some employers.

I had two internships throughout college and they gave me the extra experience and edge needed to land my first professional job just two months after graduating.

Some internships may even lead to full-time employment through the company, which is why it’s so important to go big when choosing which company or program to apply to.

You don’t want to be stuck licking envelopes or doing boring data entry work unless that’s what you truly want to do.

There’s no shame in wanting to land your dream internship that will be fun, challenging, and perhaps even provide you with a stipend or regular income.

Here are a few tips and strategies to help you land your dream internship.

Research Companies in Your Industry That You’d Like to Work For

Instead of searching for internships online, start by creating a profile of the ideal company you’d like to work with. Determine if you prefer working with a small company or a large one, where your ideal location is, and which companies have missions that you support.

If you find your ideal employer, you can always pitch them on providing an internship program if they don’t have one already.

It’s important to focus on other opportunities and not just those offered on Internships.com, even though that is a great place to start your search.

Expand Your Network

Networking is key. You want to put yourself out there and connect with as many people as possible because you never know when an opportunity will arise.

If you have a network that knows exactly what you are looking for professionally, it will be easier for them to recommend you for certain opportunities.

You can start by signing up for a profile on LinkedIn to connect with people and recruiters digitally. You should also consider creating business cards to hand out at meetings.

You can attend conferences or even smaller local meetups or events at your school if you are not super comfortable with networking just yet. You can also connect with current and old professors so they can keep you in mind if they hear of any opportunities and join organizations on campus to get more involved.

My old university used to have job fairs twice a year, so if your college has any of these events, be sure to attend since employers with internship programs will definitely show up. You can even check out local career fair events if your college doesn’t have any.

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Stand Out From the Crowd

Standing out is hard to do at times, but it’s absolutely necessary if you want to land your dream internship. Odds are, your dream job is someone else’s dream job as well, and there will be competition for the limited number of available spots.

You can do a wide variety of things to set yourself apart from other applicants, but make sure whatever you do is tasteful and appropriate. When it comes to your resume, you can print it on professional resume paper instead of regular printer paper and use a unique design to capture the reader’s attention so it will at least make it to the top of the pile.

You can also create a video cover letter with SparkHire. This is a unique way to introduce yourself to potential employers in a memorable way that feels personal and will let your personality shine.

When I was applying for internships and even full-time positions in the journalism field, I created an online portfolio and a physical portfolio book to bring to interviews to set myself apart.

I designed the portfolio book to be colorful, easy to navigate through, and I even printed out testimonials and feedback from others about my work which was a unique touch. If a professor or client sent me some positive feedback in an email, I’d print it out and add it to my portfolio book.

Another simple idea I had to set myself apart from other candidates was to deliver a hand written thank-you note to the interviewer instead of sending an email out like everyone else. When I wanted to try this idea after an interview right after college, I didn’t have a chance because the company owner called me back later that day to tell me I was hired and that became my first ‘big girl job’.

These are just a few ideas, but there are so many ways to set yourself apart from other candidates to ensure you land your dream internship. Just get creative and don’t be afraid to take risks.

Follow Up

Following up is one of the most important aspects of applying for an internship. I once applied and interviewed for a 10-month apprenticeship in downtown Chicago at what seemed like the company of my dreams.

However, I got lazy after the interview, and went on about my life while I waited for a callback, email, or something. Two weeks went by and I started to get worried. Then, three weeks went by and a whole month.

I realized the hiring managers were not going to reach back out to me because I forgot to send thank-you emails and a follow-up after the interview. It was a big mistake on my part, but I learned an important lesson from that experience.

Make sure you collect business cards during the interview and send a thank-you letter or email to each person you speak with. Try to send it soon after the interview or no more than 3 days later so you don’t forget.

You can also take notes during the interview or jot down interesting information that the interviewer shares with you so you won’t forget it, and you can mention it during your follow up email.

Overall, landing your dream internship is all about the strategy you employ which is why it’s best to do lots of preparation and make sure you remain professional.

What would your dream internship or dream job be? How do you set yourself apart from other candidates?