Fast forward to Lauren’s junior year of college, when she’s preparing for her summer internship search. As she scrolls through Twitter, she discovers the United States Olympic Committee is looking for a summer social media intern. Feeling overjoyed about this perfect opportunity, Lauren decides to apply for the internship.
Just before Lauren submitted her application, though, she started to have doubts. “Is this internship out of my league?” she asked herself.
Many college students can relate to Lauren’s internship search. You find an internship that sounds like a dream come true… but become intimidated. Perhaps the fear of rejection kicks in. Do you stand a chance? Should you even apply?
For Lauren, and those college students like Lauren, here are five tips for landing an internship that you might think is out of your league:
1. Study What You Don’t Know and Practice Your Weak Skills
As you read through the internship posting, make a list of your strengths and weaknesses according to the position. Once you’ve identified your weaknesses, determine what you can do to fill the gaps.
For example, if Lauren noticed the internship requires the candidate to have experience working with Photoshop and she lacks that knowledge, it’d be a smart idea for Lauren to reach out to a graphic design friend who could teach her a few tricks. Or sign up for a course on Lynda.com or other similar site.
Be resourceful and figure out how you can improve your weaknesses quickly.
2. Focus on Your Best Qualities
Just because you don’t have the experience for the internship doesn’t mean you can’t sell your best qualities to employers. Millennial Branding’s 2014 Multi-Generational Job Search study found 43 percent of hiring managers look for candidates who make a great cultural fit.
As a college student, you have a lot of qualities to market to employers. Show employers how you’ve gained valuable time management skills by balancing classes with your extracurricular activities. You can also show employers your passion for their organization and explain why you have the personality for the job. These details play a huge role in how an employer gets to know candidates and select their interns.
3. Build Relationships with the Right People
Networking is always an essential tool for landing an awesome internship. If you have an inside connection with an organization, you’re more likely to get noticed by employers.
Begin building relationships with people who work at organizations you’re passionate about through social media networks such as Twitter and LinkedIn. In Lauren’s case, she could start connecting with communications and marketing professionals who work for the United States Olympic Committee. She could also connect with previous interns who worked there.
By simply researching an organization, you can quickly find the right people to connect with.
4. Create a Blog to Showcase Your Skills and Passions
If you don’t have any experience, blogging can be a great way to showcase your skills, passions, and personality to employers. According to a January study by branded.me, 62 percent of job seekers said their blog has helped them grow their career.
Let’s look at Lauren’s situation, for example. As a public relations student who’s passionate about the Olympics, Lauren has a great opportunity to use blogging as a tool to show employers her knowledge of communications and sports. If Lauren wanted to create a blog to brand herself as a young sports communications professional, she could write about her favorite Olympians and general communications strategies related to sports.
5. Create a List of Probing Questions to Ask the Interviewer
The key to impressing a hiring manager when you don’t have much experience is to demonstrate your knowledge of the organization. Once you’ve impressed the employer and secured an interview, it’s important to create a list of questions to ask the hiring manager.
Your questions should reflect the research you did on the internship and organization. For example, Lauren could ask about the goals of the organization, how social media plays a role in the success of the organization, or share some of her own ideas for the internship.
With a little effort, passion, and hunger for success, any internship is within your reach!
As long as you focus on your strengths, learn from (and strengthen) your weaknesses, and highlight why you’d make a great fit for the organization, you’re likely to impress the employer… and land your dream internship.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friend, Heather Huhman!
About the Author: Heather R. Huhman is a career expert and founder & president of Come Recommended, a career and workplace education and consulting firm specializing in young professionals. Follow her on Twitter at @heatherhuhman.