Landing an internship involves a lot of work. From reading through internship descriptions to writing your cover letters and perfecting your resume, personal brand and elevator pitch… there are many steps to consider. If you want to be successful, it is best to excel at each part of the process.
If you’ve been applying but still haven’t landed an internship, or if landing an internship seems more difficult than it should be, there may need to be some process improvement. Below are seven mistakes many students make when applying for internships.
Do any of these sound familiar?
1. Limiting Yourself
The first way you can fail is if you put too many limits on the internships for which you apply. You need to explore all of your options and apply to as many positions as possible to give yourself plenty of opportunity for a positive outcome. Branch out to different industries, different sizes of companies, and different areas of focus. Consider companies in other cities or even other countries. Expanding your horizons is the best way to find the best fit.
That being said, don’t apply to companies where you don’t want to work. If you don’t think you’d accept an offer, don’t apply. Don’t apply just because you think you have a better shot. You need to find an internship where you will be happy.
2. Not Putting Enough Care Into Your Resume and Cover Letter
If you rush through too many applications, you’ll start to hurt yourself. You need to put time and care into every resume and cover letter you send. This means lots and lots of proof reading. Your resume and cover letter need to be 100 percent free of errors and typos if you want to be taken seriously. Ask someone to read over your work before you hit send.
Additionally, you need to tailor your resume and cover letter specifically for each position where you apply. This means going through the job description for keywords and including them in your materials. In your cover letter, you should include stories about your most relevant accomplishments to show how you will be the best person for the role. Targeting your resume and cover letter is what will set you apart from other candidates.
3. Not Following Instructions
One of the simplest mistakes you can make is to not follow instructions. This is something you’ve been doing since you were a kid, but we tend to get lazy. Make sure to read through the entire job description and follow the directions exactly.
If an employer says to use a certain subject line in your email and you don’t do it, you’ll be disqualified immediately. There is no room for error here.
4. Making Assumptions
Another way you can mess up is to assume you know what is expected of you. True, between the job description and the company website, you should have a general idea. But it’s important to ask questions when you’re unsure. Especially when it comes to the interview, employers want to hear you ask thoughtful questions because it shows you’re paying attention and you’re genuinely interested.
5. Being Unprofessional
This sounds like common sense, but it is essential to be professional throughout the entire application process. Be respectful of everyone you meet, including your interviewers and your competition. Dress in business attire. Arrive on time, early even. Any sign of unprofessionalism will get you kicked out of the race.
6. Not Following Up
Another way you’ll fail is if you forget to follow up. When you submit your application, if you don’t hear back by the deadline, send another email to remind them of your interest. Then, after every interview, send a personalized thank-you note to everyone you met.
Following up is the best way to show an employer you genuinely care about landing the internship, and it sets you apart from the candidates who didn’t think to do so.
7. Neglecting your own well-being
The final way you’ll fail while applying for internships is if you start to lose yourself during the process. You need to look out for your own well-being, so don’t let the stress get to you. If you don’t take care of yourself, it will show when it comes time to interview. It will be clear that you’re overly stressed or exhausted, so you won’t be representing your best self. Eat healthy, get a good night’s sleep, and make time for fun.
It can be incredibly easy to get caught up in the internship process. If you aren’t putting in the necessary time and care, you’re sure to fail. Take a step back and make sure you aren’t making any of these mistakes. The best part: once you figure out what you’re doing wrong, you’ll see much better results!
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Glassdoor.com!
About the Author: Heather R. Huhman is a Glassdoor career and workplace expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets. Follow Heather on Twitter!