By Jordan Perras
Whether you’re about to be a freshman or you’ve already got your eye on a perfect post-grad position, a summer internship can help make your dream goals a little closer to reality.
Here are some tips to make a great first impression, and end up exactly where you want to be when the summer rolls around.
1. Make a LinkedIn profile and update your resume. If you don’t have these two things, make them and then use them! Your resume is going to be uploaded to every internship application, so having it done first will streamline the process. Create a LinkedIn account and include the link to it at the bottom of your school email signature.
The more views you get, the better, so really take the time to showcase your accomplishments. Use my guide to making your first resume if you get stuck!
2. Check with Career Services. At many universities, Career Services is the one-stop shop for finding a summer internship. Companies can request to have their openings posted on the office’s website, making it easier for you to find a spot. Check that listing before you start searching aimlessly on the internet. They’re also helpful for resume review and interview prep.
3. Network with your parents’ friends. Summer internships can be competitive, but knowing someone in the company who can vouch for you is a huge step. My younger sister was looking for an internship in engineering this summer and received three offers from our dad’s friends at a holiday party.
Mention your search to everyone who will listen and you might be surprised too! That being said, don’t outright ask for a job offer. See if you can get some helpful tips on what their company looks for in new hires or whether they’re willing to sit down with you for an informational interview.
4. Start applying. One of my biggest weaknesses is that I tend to get stuck in the planning stage. I love to plan because I have control over pretty much everything. The minute I start, however, something ends up in someone else’s hands.
Don’t let your internship get stuck in the planning stage. Apply. Apply. Apply. The more jobs you apply to, the more chances you have of getting a call back or an interview.
5. Prep for the interview. Make sure you research the company and the position thoroughly. Be prepared to answer “Why do you want this job?” “What makes you a good candidate for this job?” “Why do you want to work at this company?”
Also think about past experiences you’ve had working in teams, problem solving or messing up and then fixing it. Tons of sites have lists of behavioral questions, so find a list and think about what you would say if an interviewer asked you those questions.
6. Dress the part. An interview is not the time to try out your new favorite trend. Stick with timeless and professional. My go-to is a knee length dress, small statement necklace and a blazer. If this is your first real professional experience, think about investing in a blazer, slacks and a nice conservative blouse.
Don’t be intimidated by the expensive prices at the big name brands. You’d be surprised at the inexpensive options at Kohl’s, H&M and Forever 21! Also reach out to your friends or their big sisters to see if there’s something you can borrow.
7. Follow up. At the end of the interview, ask for a business card so that you have your interviewer’s email address. 24 hours after the interview, send them an email thanking them for taking the time to interview you. Restate your interest in the company and the position, and then say that you’re happy to answer any additional questions they have for you. Double and triple check that you’ve addressed the email to the correct person!
8. Become the best intern your company has ever seen! Work hard, ask questions, be on time, be positive, be professional. These are the basics, but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t follow them in the workplace.
During the first few weeks, you’ll have a lot to learn and it might be overwhelming. Don’t get discouraged because they hired you for a reason! You can do it!
Jordan Perras is a third-year student at Northeastern University majoring in Math and Business Administration with a concentration in Finance and a minor in Economics. She has a wide variety of interests that include history, art and literature and plans to pursue an MBA after college. She is especially interested in the role of social entrepreneurship in sustainable business.