Thousands upon thousands of students are in the same position I was last year–just one month away from graduation! It is a scary, but exciting time in a college woman’s life and having some help is essential, whether it be financial help from your parents, emotional support from your friends, or the wise words of a self-help guru in a book you just can’t put down (L2B suggests Getting From College to Career by Lindsey Pollak). One thing is certain: the time has come, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.
One of the most important things that college students and recent graduates should make sure to do is get an internship. Internships provide great, hands-on experience that is extremely beneficial when getting started in your career. “But how do I land that?” you might ask. Well, it really isn’t as difficult as it seems.
Step 1: Your Resume
First of all, you must be prepared with a solid resume before you can start applying. Microsoft Word and Microsoft Works both have resume templates to get you started. Many universities also offer great services free to students at Career Centers on campus. They can really help you polish your resume to accentuate your best skills for your field of work. Plus, the volunteers have been trained by business owners to know exactly what they’re looking for.
Another great idea, especially in today’s digital world, is to create an online resume. You can do this in a couple different ways. One great site is vicualcv.com. It’s free and easy to sign up and you can browse other professionals’ pages to get ideas. I personally created my own website as a digital resume. I used a free web hosting site, wix.com. On Wix, a lot more creative possibilities are available. You can add pictures, an about me section, samples of your work, your resume, contact information, and almost anything else you want in a much more visually exciting and creative setting. This shows employers that you are creative, different, and also able to move with technological advancement, which comes in handy in any field. Just make sure to keep it professional and you’re sure to stand out.
Step 2: Confidence
After you have your resume and digital resume ready, you should be feeling pretty confident. Confidence is one of the most important qualities to have – or at least fake – when going through the internship and entry-level job search process. Make sure the employees hear that you know you are right for this job. You can show this in your cover letter. Always remember to tweak your cover letter to match each particular internship or job you are applying for. Employers want to know that you really are interested in this specific position and not just mass emailing every address you come across.
It is also important to keep in mind that you are just beginning your career. Take what you can get. Experience is experience and that is valued by future employers. Be confident, but don’t get cocky.
Now you’re ready to start applying. But finding internships that appeal to you can be as difficult as creating your resume.
Step 3: Where to apply?
First of all, apply to the internships that you get from your college advisor. They are sending them to you for a reason. I was accepted to my first internship this way. You can also check in at the alumni center on your campus. Your alma mater is always willing to help out since your success makes them look better.
If you’re interested in writing or the fashion and beauty world, ed2010.com is an amazing site for internships. This is where I found my second internship, which was virtual. Since it is a national website, it can be hard to find something that is financially possible for you. Most of the postings are in New York. If you can’t afford housing in the big apple (and let’s be honest, who can at this age?), NYU offers their housing to students and recent graduates who are interning in the city. Rent isn’t cheap, but it’s certainly much more affordable than if you had to do it all on your own. Meal plans are also offered to help with food costs. Check out NYU.edu/summer/housing for more info.
Another favorite website to check for internships is theinternqueen.com. On this site, you can search for internships by location, field of interest, and semester. This really narrows it down to each person’s needs. After you choose which internships are right for you, you send in your resume and The Intern Queen forwards your resume to the person in charge of hiring interns at each company you are interesting in applying to. This site is cool because there are hundreds of internships in several different fields listed, so you’re sure to find something suitable for you.
Step 4: Network
It is well-known in the real world that “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” This is not always the case, but most companies would rather hire someone that an employee knows and can vouch for over a random graduate out of the high pile of resumes. Just the fact that you went to college helps—you most likely know people in several fields that can help you out. Ask your old professors to connect you with previous students; send a Facebook message to your classmate from freshman English. You know a lot more people that can help you than you think and networking is key to advancing in any career. Be friendly and introduce yourself to strangers. A business card is always advantageous to have (you can print them at home on cardstock for cheap!) and always follow up with new potential connections. Go to a local hangout for elites in your field and strike up a conversation with one of the execs. You can never know too many people. Your connections get you in the door; your talent and work ethic keep you in the building.
Step 5: Dress for the Job you Want
This is another well-known way to move up in an industry. Respect comes more easily to those who look the part. You’ll look like you belong at high-power happy hour and CEOs won’t think twice when you approach them. Think of the new wardrobe as an investment in your future. It will pay off.
So go out, apply, and start your future now (the sooner, the better)! And remember, you create your own destiny.
If you are interested in interning with Lush to Blush, please send your resume and cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org.