Going to college just isn’t enough these days. Forget what your parents said about how they didn’t need internships when they were younger. These are different times. And although an internship may be costly — commuting, renting, subletting and sometimes without pay — they are invaluable experiences.
Because internships are more desirable than ever before, here are the top six tips to set yourself apart from your fierce competitors.
1. Relevant work section
Create a “Relevant Work Experience” section in your résumé that highlights all the experiences you’ve gained within the industry in which you want to intern. If you have additional work experience, create another section called “Other Work Experience.” It shows employers that you are determined to work within the industry and are not just applying to the job on a whim.
2. Applicable skills
Employers don’t expect you to know it all. That’s why you are applying — to gain more experience. What employers want to see are your transferable skills. CDC Director Nancy Paul advises you to “value all your experiences,” regardless of what they are. All jobs help you gain experience, so never discount your job as a bus boy or a babysitter. They help decipher your work ethic.
3. Creative cover letter
Make your cover letter creative and engaging so that it draws the reader in. Be bold. Stand out.
“Put yourself in the employer’s chair, what’s going to attract your attention,” Paul said. “Make connections between your interests, what the company does, and what you want to learn.”
4. Dress to impress
In this fierce job market, you don’t want to be the forgotten candidate. While you still have to dress professionally in business casual attire, try to show your personal style.
“Students are going to have to think about organization,” Paul said. “Sometimes you can show more of your personal style. There is competition and you want to make for a good first impression. It’s not just black suits only, but you want to dress like someone who is serious about this opportunity.”
5. Always address your cover letter
If you’re addressing your cover letter “To Whom This May Concern,” then stop right now. Look online for a name of someone in the Human Resource department or pick up the phone and call. If all else fails, Paul encourages using the salutation “Dear Internship Coordinator.”
6. Follow up
After your interview, it is essential to thank your interviewer for the opportunity. An email will suffice, but if you want to make an impression, a hand-written thank you card really shows you care. Make sure to send the email/letter out that day.
Follow the CDC on twitter @BinghamtonCDC and “like” it on Facebook. Be sure to stop by the CDC for any help you may need. They are always there to assist you.