Don’t you love the way internships feel like a rite of passage? It’s like that coming-of-age moment in your favorite rom-com; your internship is that necessary first step between student life and real life.
Competition for jobs is at an all time high. That’s why, as a student, you need to start making the right moves now, while you are a student.
Would you start planning a world tour the day before you go? Don’t sit back and hope for the best!
Here are 4 steps you can take now to prepare for applying for your dream internship:
1. Create an intentional resume and cover letter
Your resume should be designed specifically for the type of position you are looking for.
Unless your experience relates to your career path, leave it out or write in a way that it is relevant to the application.
For instance, if you ran a lemonade stand and are applying for an internship in finance, talk about HOW you learned to manage money, inventory and how you made a profit from that experience.
2. Ask your counselor for feedback
Feedback from a neutral advisor can be super valuable. Your guidance counselor or program director is a potential gold mine for you. Get in there and dig for some feedback!
This will not only help you deliver a top-notch resume when you apply for internships, but it will also give you the chance for some one-on-one with your counselor, who (hint!) may turn out to be a great reference for you later.
Approach your counselor with an open mind, and be receptive to the insight they offer.
If you are not sure you will be open to their constructive criticism, don’t even ask.
3. Conquer fear now…take a public speaking class.
Yeah, yeah. You took public speaking as a freshman, because, let’s face it—they made you. It’s a prerequisite in nearly every program in the United States today, and there’s a good reason for that.
More people would rather DIE than speak in public. Get over this fear now. It will serve you well in life.
This class doesn’t just prepare you to speak in front of large crowds. It also helps you sharpen your communication skills in meetings, interviews and presentations. Effective communication skills are not optional!
So, find something like Toastmasters or a local T.E.D. event. Try an improv acting class. Take a shot at it, and learn from your mistakes (because you will make them at first). In the end, you’ll be so glad you did it. You’ll find that you’re more confident in conversation, even under pressure, and you will be able to speak eloquently on the fly. It’s worth it.
4. Make resource lists, check them all twice…and grow them
This may be the best advice you get all year: learn to love the art of list-making. We aren’t talking about your daily to-do lists or your must-watch Netflix list.
These are serious career-boosting lists that you’ll use for years to come.
So, grab some high-quality paper (or your mobile device of choice) and make yourself the following resource lists:
- Industry Influencers – These are the most successful people in your career field. Make a list of who they are and note how they got to the top. Want to take it a step further? Make a list of things you can do now to follow in their footsteps. Connect with them on LinkedIn and follow them on social media.
- Your Personal Network – This is quite literally every single person you ever meet. Don’t ever skip a name or number. We are talking about classmates, coworkers, friends, family, neighbors, and so on. Note their interests, where their friends and family are and what they do. What if your dry cleaner knows someone who is looking for an up-and-coming professional just like you? As the saying goes, “your net worth is equal to your network.”
- Top Companies in Your Field – Make a list of all the top companies in your niche, so you can research them later. Based on the information you gather, you should be able to categorize them into companies that you would like to work for and those you might not.
- Leadership Radar List – List the people on the leadership team on companies you want to approach. Find them on social media, join their Facebook group and follow them. Comment on their posts. Get on their radar now.
Any career-related topic you can think of can be made into a list that will help you grow as a professional in your chosen career field. Details are everything, especially when you’re just starting out.
Stay organized, do your research, and act now. It will lay the groundwork for landing your dream internship.