Attention Interns: You Need to Specialize!

We live in a specialized world. Your future currency will not reside in a commoditized role where competitors can undercut you based on fees.

Instead, your ability to think—to problem-solve, create new ideas and develop new lines of business—will determine your value to employers, in any economy.

So how does that translate to finding an internship? When contacting prospective employers you want to cast a narrow—not wide—net.

Especially in a tough economy, your instinct may tell you that you should be “open to anything”. That’s what a lot of people tell me when I ask what they’re looking for. But actually, that is the wrong answer. It means you’re thinking of yourself as a commodity, a pair of hands. Instead, your goal is to prove to a specific employer that you have specific interest and experience in the internship for which you are applying.

That is the kind of candidate employers are looking for!

To be a bit more specific, here are four arguments as to why you should specialize in your job hunt:

Go Deep

You have fewer types of organizations to contact so you can go deeper into specific sectors. The more organizations with similar profiles, the more efficient your research and the more targeted your resume. This makes you a much more attractive candidate.

Be Efficient by Being Specific

Your contact base becomes more efficient because you are specific about what you want. So people can really help, you always want to be specific in your ask. A vague request such as “If you have any thoughts I’d appreciate it” is unlikely to yield any significant response. Instead, guide your contacts very specifically with a request such as, “I am interested in talking with senior people in healthcare PR to understand if my degree in biology and love of writing makes me a good candidate.” This way, your contacts don’t have to do a lot of work aside from scanning their contact databases – and saying “yes”.

Maximize Personal Branding

By specializing, your personal brand will be at its highest use. The more expertise you can claim, the more you will become “known” for that thing. And being known means you will receive more requests for expertise, making you more desirable to employers.

Filters = Good Fit

You’ll have better filters – ensuring a better fit. It’s much easier to get a handle on which internship is the best fit for you if you understand your long-term goals. That way, you can map out whether an internship meets your needs – or if you should wait it out for just the right thing.

I would love to hear from you about your experience in being specific in your job search (and would be glad to quote you) for a follow-up blog post. Leave your comments!

 

 

About the Author: Allison Cheston is a New York City-based career advisor who works with mid-career executives and young adults to help them identify their unique value in the marketplace and explore alternative careers. Allison is the author of an upcoming book In the Driver’s Seat: Work-Life Navigation Skills for Young Adults, to help young adults from late high school through college develop strengths and interests and match them to internships, coursework and, ultimately, the right job.

 

 

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