By Samantha Haimes, Assistant Director of Experiential Initiatives
True or False: If someone advised you that the best way to begin your internship search was to refer to the Classifieds section of Sunday's newspaper, you might laugh in their face, assuming they must be joking.
If I know you, and I think I do, your answer is…TRUE. Ok, even though I don't know you, we are on the same page…
Now answer me this: If someone advised you that the best way to begin your internship search was to start by visiting specific websites, perhaps the company’s website or a site more all-encompassing such as HireACane or Indeed.com, you'd probably take their word for it.
Once again, also probably [and hopefully] your answer is TRUE.
Utilizing online portals such as HireACane is an excellent strategy; on these sites you typically learn about available positions, read about various companies, and can even submit your resume electronically.
Last question (I promise): After exploring these amazing sites with tons of opportunities listed, you submit your resume electronically and then wait for the company to contact you. Maybe you'll submit a cover letter too (if they ask for it). Ultimately however, the company will reach out to you if they like you.
Last but not least, I am willing to guess that the vast majority of students would say, TRUE. This seems like a great plan, right? Submit your resume to a couple of postings and then wait for companies to contact you?
One of the biggest misconceptions for students applying for jobs and internships online is that that's all there is to it—applying online. In reality, the truly successful way to obtain jobs and internships is to utilize the online application process as just a part of the process. Not the process.
I know, I know. Your mind is boggled right now. "What are you talking about, Samantha? Applying for positions online isn't enough? But that's the only way I know how to find out what companies are hiring for?" Do not fear- I promise there are easy [and dare I say fun] ways to take your application from the mediocre click-of-a-button-resume-submission to a strong, outstanding, and competitive application for consideration. Here are some of the ways to get you started:
Research, Research, Research!
Doing your research before you actually click submit is critical. For starters, it will give you a glimpse into the organization and will help you decide if this is a good position for you. Don’t be fooled by job posting titles- really read the descriptions and spend some time researching the company so you are confident that it is a good fit. The better fit you believe you are for the job, the more this will shine through in your resume and cover letter (which should be tailored to each position you apply for).
In addition, don’t be limited to the company website. Check out the organization on various social media outlets, see if they have YouTube videos, and scope out what headlines they are making in the news and media. The more informed you are, the better all around.
Use your personal network
Everybody knows somebody. And while you may not realize it right away, there’s a good chance that:
A) You know someone at the company you are applying to
B) You know someone who knows someone at the company you are applying to
C) You have something in common with someone who works at the organization (i.e. graduating from UM, being a runner in south Florida, originally from the northeast, etc.) - even if you don’t know them personally.
Tapping into each of these connections for help or advice is called utilizing your network. Before and/or after you submit your resume online, try to find out about specific people that hit all three of these targets. If you are delving into your network before you apply, try to talk about the company or position with someone you know- this will make you even more knowledgeable during your application process and will give you someone to reference in your cover letter (with their approval, of course). If you choose to wait until after you apply, be sure to let the individual know when you applied for the job and for what specific position, so that they can reach out to the right individuals are their company and put in a good word for you.
You might be asking yourself, HOW do I get in touch with people that I have something in common with but that I don’t know personally? The secret is….LinkedIn!! LinkedIn is an amazing resource for connecting with individuals in this exact situation. You can cross reference the college someone attended with their current geographic location, current employer, and industry they work in—it is a gold mine! Then you can connect with these individuals to learn more about an organization. This handy-dandy tool is at the tip of your fingers, just click here. You will need to login to your LinkedIn account, however, so if you don’t have one, make one ASAP. Here at Toppel, we critique LinkedIn Profiles and can show you how to effectively use this helpful LinkedIn widget, so come on in!
Become the company's #1 Fan (if you aren't already) & Follow Up
When you are submitting job or internship applications, it is easy to get complacent and a little bit tired. You might be asking yourself, “Do I really need to write a whole new cover letter just for this one position?” or “Should I actually follow up if I haven’t heard back from them in a while- I don’t want to be pushy.”
The answer is Yes. Always YES.
One of the biggest pet peeves for companies is to receive a general resume or cover letter that is clearly also used for 1,000 other positions, in addition to their own. Companies want to get the feeling that you want to work for THEM not just that you want a job.
- Follow the company on social media – find their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn Company Page, and Instagram account. Start liking their content
- Set up a Google Alert to keep up-to-date on what’s happening with them
- Connect with employees at the organization utilizing LinkedIn and/or your personal network
- Meet people who work at the company (personal networks or structured networking events)- be friendly and knowledgeable…oh yes, and smile
Additionally, companies only want to interview candidates that are passionate and excited about the job because that means they will be committed to the position and are more likely to be a strong fit. One of the best ways to convey this to an employer, outside of your initial application, is to follow up. No, this is not pushy; this is committed and organized. I would encourage you to wait about two weeks after you submit your resume to follow up directly with the hiring manager, via email or phone. You could write something along the lines of:
Good morning _______, “I am writing to confirm that you received by application for the _____position with _____ company. I am really looking forward to hearing from you as I feel I am an excellent fit for this role. If you need any additional information from me, please don’t hesitate to contact me.” Thank you! Sincerely, ________
This is not the end-all, be-all template, just a beginner’s suggestion.
I hope these tips have been helpful for you. I challenge you to keep all of these important points in mind during your fall internship search or if you are actively seeking full-time opportunities. If you forget anything, don't hesitate to reach out to me; I am happy to remind you!
HAPPY SUBMITTING (and so much more)!