Why am I writing this article? What makes me qualified?
I spent 9 months on my internship search before I eventually landed two offers in the same week. I have gone through a lot more than many and have learned a few tricks that might help you in your internship search.
Some first-year Master’s students already have internship offers lined up for the summer. If you have an internship lined up, then congratulations! If not, there are a few things 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 school year, there are several months to go before the summer and a lot of time awaits to get an internship. True, but not true. Job and 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 the end of March to early April. Most good companies fill their internships in the first cycle. If you don’t have good leads already, start working hard soon if you want to be a part of this cycle.
- Talk to second years – Drop your ego
Think you have an awesome resume and 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 can say this from experience. I had what I thought was a great resume last year, but got only one interview call until November. I had a second-year student review my resume and it turned out that it wasn’t so great. It took a lot of revisions and review sessions to get it to a presentable level. The same was the story with my cover letter, and don’t even get me started on my interviewing skills. I was subpar 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 area (Operations or Consulting) and two cover letters should never be the same.
- Network, Network, and Network
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. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Even if that employer hires from your school, networking with current employees can give you insights that will help you improve your resume, tailor your cover letter and 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 or interviewer has distinct candidate 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. If you have had a great networking experience with an interviewer, your interview will 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 introverted like me? I can tell you that I had interviews calls from 11 companies last year. Only one came through a career fair, while all others through applying online. You need to know the right places to apply online. While CMA is a popular system, there is another resource you can use at Purdue (I received 9 of my interview calls from it), - the Center for Career Opportunities. Use it and use it extensively. 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, randomly sending your resume to 100 job postings on a single day with a generic resume and cover letter is not the way to do 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 five good applications a day, you are working at 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.
- 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. Both my offers came in April.
- Balance academics with internship search
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 that 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.