Internship Seeker, Heal Thyself: Passion, Ambition and Guts

Depression caused by chronic unemployment is approaching epidemic levels.

Sadly, while internship seekers are certainly not responsible for our current economy, this problem seems to be compounded by our attitudes: pessimism, angst and guilt.

And not to twist the already inserted knife, but to bring us to the root cause of the problem…

Far too many internship seekers are ridiculously dependent on technology-based means of searching for work. While certainly far more convenient, this sole dependence on the internet comes across as, well… lazy. So, what can we do?

Internship seeker, heal thyself.

What if, starting this week, we replaced pessimism with passion? Angst with ambition? And guilt with guts?

Through unbridled passion, clear ambition, and with guts clearly on display… would employers see us in a different light? Would we climb the competitive ladder closer toward the top? And would we stand a much better chance of getting that internship?

Of course!

And what if, at the same time, we began to realize the internet is a means of delivery, not always a two-way communication medium? Let me explain:

  • The internet – specifically job boards, Twitter and now LinkedIn – has done an incredible job of replacing newspapers as a method of advertising an open position; advertising, as we know, is one-way communication
  • As a delivery method, the internet has made snail mail and fax machines near-obsolete; these deliveries – email, tweet or LinkedIn message – are one-way communications (at least until the communication is acknowledged by the recipient)
  • Inherently, the internet is simply an ultra-convenient form of one-way communication

Disagree? How many times have you seen a posting on the internet that matches your experience and goals perfectly, replied in earnest, waited and waited but never received a response? That is the epitome of “one-way” communication (and in this job market, perhaps the first sign of a lack of ambition).

With this understanding, and knowing that what you’ve been doing clearly isn’t helping you find an internship, what if you began making sure that your communication was, indeed, two-way?

Sounds good! But how?

Once you’ve made your initial attempt at contact via internet (and if you do not receive a response, of course) face-to-face visits, when appropriate, are the best form of communication. This is especially true at small businesses, start-ups and non-profit organizations.

Dress professionally, hand deliver your resume and ask for an introduction to the hiring manager. At the very least, introduce yourself to the gatekeeper with a firm handshake and a smile. Impress her, and she’ll become your champion to the recruiter: “This guy showed some guts, is very professional – we should interview him!”

Second-best is a follow-up phone call; especially effective for virtual positions – and after sending your resume, or your first interview. And don’t make just one phone call. Be persistent! Our general rule of thumb:

  • One call within 48 hours of the interview
  • If you received voice mail or left a message, another call, again within 48 hours
  • If still no answer, make two more calls the next work week
  • At that point, you’ve made your interest known – no more phone calls

Lastly, send a thank you card via snail mail. And I mean a real card, from the business section at Hallmark or maybe Office Depot. Rarely, if ever, will a gatekeeper stop a hand-written thank you note from getting all the way through to the addressee.

Combine passion, ambition and guts to all three of these best practices for communication – stop relying solely on the internet – and your internship search will take a huge turn for the better.

What would you add to this advice? What “best practice” has won you an interview, an internship, or a job? Please let us know by leaving a comment below, or via Twitter.

About the Author: A passionate supporter of Gen Y talent, YouTern CEO Mark Babbitt is a serial entrepreneur and mentor. Mark has been quoted in Forbes, Mashable, ReadWriteWeb, and regarding internships, emerging talent and the current job market – and was recently honored to be named to GenJuice’s “Top 100 Most Desirable Mentors” list.

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