Why am I writing this article? What makes me qualified?
Well, I spent 9 months on my internship search, before I eventually landed two offers in the same week, and therefore have gone through a lot more than many and have learned a few tricks that might help you in your internship search. You may or may not want to follow these tips.
Although it is just the start of your first year in b-school, some of you or your peers already have internship offers lined up for the summer. If you have an internship lined up, then congratulations! If not, then there are a few things that want to share with you that might help you on your way there.
- Don’t have good leads for an internship yet? Now is the time
You are probably thinking that this is just the start of the year, and there are a few months to go before the summer, and hence there is a lot of time to get one. True, but not true. Job and internship internship hiring is a highly seasonal and cyclical process. A typical first cycle ends in late October to early November, and the second cycle goes from February through end March to early April. Most good companies fill their internships in the first cycle, and if you don’t have good leads already, start working hard if you want to be a part of this cycle.
- Talk to second years – Drop your ego
Think you have an awesome resume, a killer cover letter? Think you know everything about interviewing? Think again. The only thing worse than a bad resume is having a bad resume and not knowing about it. I speak this from experience. I had what I thought a great resume last year, but got only one interview call till November, and that was through a career fair. I had a second-year student review my resume; turned out my resume was not so great. In fact my resume was the opposite, it took a lot of revisions and review sessions to get it to a presentable level, let alone making it great. The same was the story with my cover letter, and don’t even get me started on my interviewing skills. Suffice to know, I was at all three, and it took a lot of time and effort to get to a level worthy of an MBA student. Remember, tailor your resume for the profile .e.g. operations oriented or consulting oriented, and both should not be the same (and changing the objective and concentration is not it).
- Network, Network, and Network
Why do I say this? Well, I have a few reasons. The first of course is that networking is a great way to land an interview call with your favorite employer, especially if it is an employer which traditionally doesn’t hire from your school. However, most students think that this is the only reason you need to network, and this could be as far from truth as you can possibly imagine. Even if that employer hires from your b-school, networking with current employees can give you insights that will help you improve your resume, tailor your cover letter and of course give you an edge in the interview process. Networking is even more effective if you network with the people that you are actually going to interview with. Learn beforehand what they are looking for in a prospective employee. While a company has a set of values that they want to match you up against, each recruiter/interviewer has some distinct things that they are looking for. While one might want you to be more energetic, another might want you to be more humble, and so on and so forth. Also, speaking from experience, if you have had a great networking experience with an interviewer, your interview would be more of a conversation, giving you a distinct advantage over your competition. Last, and in no way least, networking will let you know if the company is a good fit with what you want or not. It may sound cliché, but it is very important that you intern with a company that is a good fit for you in a role that you like, as this would likely increase your chances of converting your internship into a full time offer.
- Apply Online, Regardless
I know that by now a lot of people, on a lot of occasions have told you that applying online is useless. This statement is incorrect. While networking can improve your chances of getting that interview call tremendously, what if you are like me (a bit introverted)? I can tell you that I had interviews calls from 11 companies last year. Only one came through a career fair, all others through applying online, which brings us back to the importance of having a good resume and cover letter. However, you need to know the right places to apply online. While most of you probably use CMA, there is another resource you can use at Purdue (I received 9 of my interview calls), and that is Center for Career Opportunities. It is here for you in Young Hall. Use it, use it extensively. There are some great opportunities posted through the CCO website, potentially one of your favorite employer that doesn’t hire from Krannert! There are also many opportunities on Linkedin and other online career websites.
- Take your time when submitting an application
While it is good to apply to a lot of places (simple probability), randomly sending your resume to a 100 job postings on a single day with a generic resume and cover letter is not the way to cut it. Take your time to see what the job is about and tailor your resume and cover letter accordingly. If you are able to send 5 good applications a day, that is a great pace. Often, the name of the recruiter is posted, connect to them and learn more about the company before you send in your application (another way to network!).
- Keep your spirits high
I’ve already stressed it’s time to get busy but you shouldn’t get down on yourself. I have seen colleagues who are more qualified in every respect but fail because they buckled under pressure. You have resources to help make you successful in every aspect. I ended up with two offers with great companies that do not hire from Krannert and one doesn’t hire internationals students, which I am. How? Because I kept my spirits up and hung in there, and both my offers came in mid-late April.
- Balance academics with internship search
A GPA is important, but what is most important for a successful full-time offer is an engaging internship experience on your resume. I spent a lot of time on my studies and have a high GPA which I could have otherwise spent on my internship search. There has to be a right balance because studying beyond a certain point adds very little value. Find the right balance between studying and searching for your internship.
- Stick to what you want to do
I know it sounds counter intuitive for when we are running out of time and do not have a lot of options; we tend to get desperate and start applying to every position in every company. However, it is the complete opposite. Applying randomly to every place is going to have two negative impacts. One, it is going to eat up your quality time which otherwise might be better served working on applying to interested positions. Second, if you get an offer from a company that you aren’t quite interested in and accept, you might end up missing out on your dream job/company. My two cents: no matter how late in the hiring cycle, have a plan, stick to it and the right offer will come.
Last, and I have said it before as well, HANG IN THERE, DO NOT get bogged down or stressed. Keep your spirits high, it will help you find the right internship at the right time.
Second-Year MBA Student