Dear College Students and Prospective Intern Applicants,
I just want to start this letter off by saying that I’m rooting for you guys. I really am. That said, you might not like what I’m about to say. But, I promise, it’s important.
Right now, you’re probably in the midst of applying to internships, right? You probably have one of those job search websites like Indeed or InternMatch up in another tab as we speak. Good for you! (I swear, I meant that in the least sarcastic way possible.) That means you’ve already taken at least one step in the direction of becoming a responsible adult and pursuing your career: realizing that internships are really, really important.
Now, I know the idea of being paid little to no money to do tons of work is incredibly unappealing, but A) not all internships are boring run-and-get-coffee type gigs, and B) internships = networking, which = jobs. It’s like algebra; you feel me? Good. So we can all agree that internships are vital to a successful college experience and to starting a career, no matter what your field is. Yes. Cool. Great. Thanks. Slow claps all around.
Let’s go back to the part where I said you’re probably applying to an internship like, right now. I’m just going to tell you straight up, you’re probably doing it wrong. I don’t mean to discourage you, but I read internship applications all day, every day. And this is basically how it goes:
Step 1. Receive email from applicant.
Step 3. Read cover letter.
Step 5. Sob uncontrollably on behalf of the entire Millennial generation.
To get the full effect of what a day in the life of an internship coordinator is really like, repeat approximately 52 times. It’s not pretty. Trust me. Why? Because the vast majority of internship applicants put approximately 0.003% effort into applying to a position. And I don’t know if that’s a laziness thing, an “I’m stressed out but I need to do this” thing, or if you guys just really have zero idea how to apply to jobs. Or read. Seriously, sometimes I question your literacy. It’s a problem. Hence, step 5.
Some of you do everything correctly, and when you do, it feels like this:
…Rather, it feels like how looking at that makes me feel.
Okay, so since we agreed that internships are important, and since you are probably not doing all that you can to actually get said important internships, let’s go over some things to consider, shall we? Maybe then we can make hiring managers around the world go from this:
Okay, let’s get serious.
Please, for the love of Batman, stop sending selfies.
This is not a modeling agency. You are applying for a professional internship. Whether you send it as an attachment (NO) or you sneakily incorporate it into your resume, no matter how great it looks, you need to stop right now. Don’t worry, if you want us to know what you look like, take comfort in the fact that we’re probably going to stalk you on social media, anyway. LOL guys. Hide yo tweets, hide yo Facebooks.
Write an appropriate cover letter.
Let’s go through the process of making sure your cover letter is worthy of hitting send. First, read the job posting in its entirety. Then, write a cover letter that follows instructions. Some places don’t give instructions. That’s fine. In that case, write a cover letter that incorporates all of the skills that you have that they are also looking for. Other companies will ask you to tell them a story involving Beyonce, tomatoes, and a poison dart frog. Give them what they’re looking for, or don’t apply. Read, edit, repeat. Then you can hit send.
Double check yo self before you wreck yo self.
Come on guys, Microsoft Word has spell check built in. This should be easy. Aside from the little mistakes like confusing “your” and “you’re” or accidentally leaving out a word (hey, it happens to the best of us) you should probably make sure you didn’t put the wrong company name (which happens way more frequently than you’d like to believe) or spell the hiring manager’s name incorrectly. Write your cover letter, read it, edit it, and repeat for good measure.
Actually write your cover letter.
Don’t copy and paste one from the internet and then fill in the blanks. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve read the exact same form cover letter, I could buy my own private island and become an eccentrically rich hermit and never have to read another cover letter again.
Make sure all your attachments are actually attached.
Please don’t forget to attach your resume (and writing samples, if applicable.) And please don’t send us 4 additional emails apologizing as you attach each thing you forgot, one email at a time.
Speaking of writing samples…
If the job posting asks you to send a writing sample, don’t send your 20 page term paper. Also, please do not send a short fiction piece that you wrote about wizards, or gang fights, or unicorns.
And once you get the application part down correctly and you move on to the interview portion:
Don’t trash your past employers.
Would you date someone who trash talked their ex all the time? No. So even if your application was perfect and your other responses were golden, you can go right ahead and consider us broken up.
Ask good questions.
Ask what the company culture is like. Ask if there’s a particular dress code. Ask what an intern’s day-to-day tasks are. But don’t ask if we eat Chipotle for lunch, because that’s awkward. (For the record: yes, we do.)
Follow up (but don’t be annoying.)
It’s always a possibility that maybe we didn’t receive your application. If it’s been about a week, feel free to email to follow up. But make sure when you do so, you re-attach the entirety of your application materials. And don’t email me every day until we respond, because you probably won’t like what you read.
If you can do/avoid all of those things, you’ll probably get an internship. At the very least, if you don’t get your dream internship right away, you’ll know it was probably due to the mass amounts of applications that company has received and not because of a silly mistake you made.
And if you only take away one thing from all of this: please stop with the selfies.
A Disgruntled and Disappointed Internship Coordinator
GIFs via Giphy, Featured photo via Thinkstock