By WHM Intern: Jenny Carter
Whether you are still in college or just graduated, an internship is an important part of gaining experience in your desired career. But where do you begin your internship journey? There are plenty of different approaches that one can take to begin the process. While this is not a definitive guide, of course, the following ideas and tips have personally worked for me and are lessons I learned along the way.
When I first started my internship search in the summer prior to my junior year of college, I began with a basic search for marketing internships in the area. At the time, I had no idea what I was looking for or what I wanted. I took the first opportunity that came up because I believed that any internship would do. After all, I was just trying to earn my required internship credits.
Boy was I wrong.
Now let me clarify: I loved my first internship. I had a good time and was surrounded by great people. But it did not challenge me in the right ways. That internship helped me align my goals better, which brings me to the first thing I think any one should do before they begin their search:
Figure Out What You Want in an Internship
What are some of your personal goals? What do you want to achieve and take away from your internship? Do you want more than just to get the grade? If you are looking for something specific, write down your specific goals. It would be advantageous to make them SMART goals. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable (or achievable), relevant, and timely.
This refers to the who, what, when, where, and why. You want to narrow it down as much as possible so that there is no ambiguous language involved. You want to pinpoint EXACTLY what you want out of your experience.
Make sure you’re setting measurable objectives that allow you to track your progress from beginning to end. Are you hitting the benchmarks required to achieve your overall goals?
How reasonable is your goal? How are you going to get there? Do you have to jumps through hoop to make it happen?
This was the part I fell short when looking for an internship. Yes, it was a marketing internship, but it did not challenge me. I did not figure out whether or not it was worthwhile and met my needs.
When do you want to complete your goal? Are you giving yourself a realistic timeline?
SMART goals can be used for a variety of things and are a great way to set yourself up to achieve success.
Know What You Don’t Want
Along with your SMART goals, it would also be sensible to pin point your deal breakers: what you DO NOT want in an internship? For me, I did not want anything sales related, such as pushing products door-to-door or gathering business cards. Considering what you do not want makes it easier to narrow down your options.
Lastly, pay close attention to the details of internship and job postings because they may not be what they seem. Sometimes there are scammers who post false internship postings just to obtain information from you. Or they may promote a job that is mostly busywork that no one else wants to do. Make sure to research the company and consider reaching out to current or former employees to see what the job is all about.
Check out more ways to spot a questionable internship.
Getting Experience to Get Experience
In this day and age, it is kind of hard to get experience without first…getting experience. Crazy right? Well, there are a few things you can do to stand out to employers to at least get an interview.
Spice Up That Résumé!
Let’s start with the basics: make sure all your vocabulary and grammar are exemplary. Think about what skills you’ve gained from class projects or after school jobs that will be valuable to a potential employer.
Your résumé should be neat, clean and readable at a glance. You can use tools such as Canva and Adobe InDesign to create an appealing layout. InDesign is a fantastic tool, but it can be expensive and requires a bit of skill and experience. If you don’t want to dive into learning InDesign, Canva is probably the better option for you. It is completely free and offers many options for customizing your designs. You can either use a template or create your own design from scratch.
If you want a simpler layout, try using the publishing layout option in Microsoft Word.
Digital Marketing Certificates
Digital marketing certificates can help you gain experience and stand out to employers. Most only take a few hours to obtain and are great to display on your résumé, website, social media and more. There are plenty of certificates available, the bigger ones being Google Adwords, Google Analytics, HubSpot and Hootsuite.
Now some of these do cost money, but talk to your professors; odds are they will like the idea and try to strike a deal with the school to get you a student discount. It could even count for a grade as well – sweetening the deal even further!
I cannot emphasize enough how important a portfolio is! These are great ways to showcase your work and who you are as a person. Not only that, you can slap the link for your online portfolio just about anywhere: résumé, social media sites, business cards, etc. Employers want to know what you have done. Prove to them why you deserve to be a part of their team.
To get started you can check out sites such as Wix or Weebly, or just a Google search for free online portfolio sites. Online portfolios are vital to differentiating yourself from other candidates. Make sure to send your portfolio to prospective employers, review it in your interviews and keep it updated constantly.
First impressions are key. According to Business Insider, you have about seven seconds to impress someone, so make sure to have that elevator pitch practiced and ready to go. Be sure to also prepare answers to some common interview questions. Not only do the answers to your questions matter, but the questions you ask matter as well. Interviewers love to see that you are involved and invested in them and the potential job.
And as always make sure you dress for success! That means no jeans, no opened toed shoes, and nothing too revealing Keep everything clean and crisp, along with nothing too distracting. You’ll be on your way to success in no time!
Once You’ve Landed the Internship
Just because you have earned your internship does not mean that you are done. You still have impressing and learning to do! With that in mind I have five things I think would be beneficial during your internship:
- Ask Questions: Try to find the answer yourself first, but don’t be afraid to seek out the information from others when you’re stumped.
- Do Not Be Afraid to Voice Your Ideas: This is all part of being in the workplace; collaboration, contribution and compromise. Who knows, you might have a great idea that your coworkers never thought about!
- Get as Involved as Possible: Make sure that you are letting your leaders know that you are dedicated to the success of the company. You also want to make it clear that you want to grow your own skills and that you are a hard worker.
- Be Confident: While this is still a struggle for myself, people are more likely to accept things from you if you are confident in what you are doing. Learn to trust and believe in your abilities.
- Do Not Be Afraid to Fail; Take Everything as as Learning Opportunity: Sometimes failing is good for you. It helps you identify your strengths and weaknesses. It helps you pinpoint what you need to work on to become a better individual in the workplace and in the business world.
Getting an internship can be difficult nowadays. I have struggled finding the right one to help me succeed and help me learn new things. I love that I have been introduced to my current internship with WhiteHot Marketing and I cannot wait to see my end results and where it will take me. Getting an internship should be about growing, not just about getting the grade or the paycheck. So make sure you are on your way to finding the right one!