How I Landed The Summer Internship Of My Dreams
By Victoria Leandria
First of all, almost everyone told me: “Don’t even try finding a summer internship in NYC. They're too hard to get!” And, that was the best thing for me to hear, because I love challenges!
The truth is, thousands of college students want a summer internship in NYC, not only those who attend a college in the city, but also across the United States and abroad, so you end up competing with a huge pool of people with a variety of experiences, most of whom probably go to an Ivy League and most likely have sat down for dinner with Obama. Because of this, I’ve come up with a list on how to stand out among all of them.
At the end of my (exhausting) internship search process I was offered a position at three companies and I ended up accepting two of them: a computer science internship in the Marketing/Growth department at Vice Media and a journalism internship in the Arts & Entertainment department at NY1 News; making my summer a combination of my two passions: digital media and technology! Here is some of what I learned throughout the process.
1. POLISH YOUR RÉSUMÉ
Your résumé is one of the first ways you introduce yourself to a future employer. Many students don't do enough with their résumé's because they've been working in retail and not necessarily in an office environment. Even though I didn’t have corporate experience, I have always been very involved in my college. I’ve assumed leadership roles in different clubs and organizations and these served as proof of the responsibility and important skills employers are often looking for. My advice is to get involved in school clubs and organizations and show you know how to spend your time!
2. APPLY! APPLY! APPLY!
Don't be afraid to apply to your dream internship. Not applying is an automatic no. Apply as much as you possibly can and while doing so, shoot for the moon! Don’t let big companies scare you. These two internships are my first and many of my friends and professors recommended I apply to a startup or a smaller company, but I didn’t listen and I applied to big companies I was in love with. Often times, missing parties or hangouts with friends, I spent most of my second semester applying for summer internships- even during my vacations in Puerto Rico!
3. CONTINOUSLY NETWORK
Network like this is your new job. I went above and beyond to find events to attend related to my career. After each event ended, I stayed longer to introduce myself to the speaker and I asked for their contact information afterwards. Fight your fear of going to new spaces and meeting new people by keeping your goal in the forefront of your mind. Remember, if you don't connect with someone you will probably never see them again, but each experience will only boost your confidence for future events.
4. ALWAYS FOLLOW-UP!
This might be one of the most important steps in your search process. You want your new contacts to remember you and to know how interested you are in working for their company. A quick email thanking them for chatting with you and a very brief summary of what you discussed is a good way to establish a connection with them. You never want to be annoying, but you definitely want to be memorable.
5. CURATE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE
I cannot emphasize how important your social profiles are. These are often looked at by HR staff and verified. Employers have told me they’ve seen my Instagram account and blog prior to my interview and have complimented me for them, so it's very important to create good, clean content, and to stay active.
6. STAY DETERMINED
I honestly didn’t keep count of the internships I applied to, was rejected from, or didn't hear back from. This may or may not work for you. I have some friends who keep detailed spreadsheets, which allows them to stay motivated and organized. It's important that you have your own system that you're comfortable with because you are going to get rejected. But you have to stay focused and believe in yourself (as corny as it sounds). Opportunities, oftentimes, come when you least expect them and you should always stay prepared and ready to shine!
7. TAKE THE INTERVIEW
If there’s the possibility of meeting in person, take it! A one-page résumé can display much of what you've done, but a face-to-face conversation with your personality on display goes a very long way in helping employers know more about your interests, how you interact in-person, and can really showcase your enthusiasm in a way that your résumé doesn't allow. Make it a goal to meet with the employer in person because this a big step in determining if you are given the position or not.
8. ENCOURAGE YOURSELF
There were many times that I got discouraged and started thinking negatively about the process. I even said, “I’m not going to make it” and “I’m not good enough.” But, I didn’t give up, and despite having an accent, mispronouncing words, and feeling like I wasn’t the most ideal candidate on paper, I always showed my passion for the company, emphasized my fast learning skills and my entrepreneurial personality. What I learned is that ultimately that is what employers want: DRIVE.
Now go get them, I am cheering for you!