Recently I was offered a retail management internship with Nordstrom, which has been a dream come true! While I was going through the application process, I learned several things that I think would helpful for anyone applying for an internship or job. Here are my top ten tips on how to get your dream internship!
1. Decide Which Industries Are Most Interested In
Choosing which companies to apply for can be an overwhelming decision. In order to reduce some of the confusion, the first thing that I would recommend doing is to narrow down the industries that you are interested in working in. My interests include beauty & fashion, retail, music, sports, and automobiles. When searching for internship opportunities, I tried to stick to companies that fell under one of those categories. Most companies have a career page that will allow you to search and browse job opportunities.
2. Determine the Location
The next step is to decide whether or not you are willing to travel and relocate for the internship. Personally, I wanted to travel to a state that I had never lived in; therefore I applied for internships all across the country. Being willing to relocate can open up a lot of great opportunities, but you can always find a wonderful internship closer to home if that is what you prefer!
3. Determine the Time Frame
It is important to know when, and for how long, you will be interning. Some internships are offered during the fall and spring semesters, however most are offered during the sumner. This reduces conflicts that may arise due to classes. Internships can last a few weeks to a few months. Some even a last year! It is imperative that you know the duration of the internship so that you are aware of how long you are committing to work.
4. Find Out if the Internship is Paid or Worth School Credit
Internships can be both paid and unpaid. If the company is not offering any monetary compensation, it will most likely be allowing the student to receive college credit for the work that they are doing. In fact, some internships require that you receive college credit. This varies from company to company, so be sure to find out this type of information. If you are wishing to receive college credit, I would also suggest meeting with the facility at your school to ensure that you are following the proper steps to document your work.
5. Keep Track of Which Internships You Have Applied For
I applied to approximately 30 internships. In order to keep track of which ones that I had applied for, I made an Excel spreadsheet.
I divided the spreadsheet into the columns listed above. I found this to be very helpful. It ensured that I did not apply for the same internship multiple times, and it allowed me to keep track of which companies I had heard back from. I was denied by several of the internships, so having the spreadsheet provided me with an easy way to mark those companies off my list.
6. Read the Job Requirements and Description
Before you apply for any position, you obviously need to have an understanding of what that position entails. Reviewing the job requirements and description will help you determine whether or not you are qualified for that position. Some companies have GPA and credit hour requirements for their interns. You don't want to waste time applying for an internship if you don't meet these requirements.
7. Adapt Your Cover Letter and Resume for Each Application
Customizing your cover letter and resume so that they are tailored to each individual application can be tedious, but it is how you are going to stand out. Your cover letter gives you a chance to communicate to the company why you are the best candidate for the position. If you are not sure how to write a cover letter or resume, you can find great resources and examples online! Career services at your school may also offer assistance in creating these types of documents.
8. Research the Company Before Your Interview
Congrats! You have spent hours filling out and submitting applications, and now you have landed an interview! Before you go to your interview, or receive the call for an over the phone interview, I would highly recommend doing some additional research about the company. This will expand your knowledge and will assist in developing a list of questions that you can ask during your interview. I asked questions such as: How many people are you looking to hire? Will I be working in a specific department? How many hours a week will I be working?
9. Search for Interview Questions and Practice Answering Them
The night before my interview, I looked up typical interview questions. I was even able to find questions that people had been asked during Nordstrom interviews in the past. This helped me get an idea of how I wanted to formulate my answers. It may also be a good idea to practice interviewing with a friend or family member. If you are unable to do this, record yourself answering a few questions so that you can playback your response. Doing this can help you eliminate any stuttering, awkward pauses, or filler works (um, like, okay, etc.) from your speech.
10. Follow Up and Send a Thank You Message
A day or so after my interview, I sent a 'Thank You' email to the staff member that conducted my interview. I thanked her for taking time out of her day to interview me and told her that I enjoyed learning more about the company. This is a polite gesture and shows that you appreciate the person taking time out of their busy schedule to consider you for the position.
Well, those were my top 10 tips on how to get an internship! I hope that you found this post to be helpful. Remember, do not get discouraged if you do not hear back or are denied after the first couple of tries. There could potentially be hundreds, if not thousands, of people applying for the same position. Sometimes applications simply get overlooked. That doesn't mean that you are not a great candidate! Just put your best foot forward and the universe will send the perfect internship your way! Good luck!