Applying to internships at any time of year can be stressful and exhausting. It can be difficult to motivate yourself to write cover letters and prepare for interviews on top of your regular schoolwork and time commitments. Here are some tips that might make the process easier for you.
1) Like any other task, set yourself incremental goals for submitting applications.
Internship recruitment is competitive regardless of what field you apply to, so it is important to submit a good number of applications. Considering your personal situation, interests, and experience, decide on an end goal for the number of applications you want to submit. It could be 10, it could be 50. Either way, make it easy on yourself by breaking up that end goal into smaller, more achievable goals spaced out on a weekly basis.
For example, you might commit to applying to at least 2 new internships every week. Treat it as a New Year’s resolution – if you take time to think through and plan out your goals, you are more likely to follow through.
2) Edit your resume and cover letter in light of each position you apply to.
Though this may seem obvious, catering your application materials to the specific job position and company you apply to can make all the difference. I have made the mistake of applying to too many internships without making many changes to my cover letter and resume in between.
When I made the effort to study companies’ missions and histories carefully and highlighted which parts of my background resonate with those core values, I garnered more opportunities to advance in the recruitment process. Even an action as simple as changing the order of bullet points on your resume or choosing a different action verb on your cover letter might improve your chances at landing your desired position.
3) If you do receive a rejection response, ask for feedback from the recruiter or hiring manager.
Rejections from internships always hurt. Sometimes I’d rather have no response than see a rejection pop up in my inbox. Still, it is a great practice to turn your rejections into opportunities for improvement. Taking just 2 minutes to reply back to your recruiter to thank them and ask for feedback on your application in a respectful manner can only help you. This will show your recruiter you value their opinion and are a committed applicant, even if you never apply to that same company again. If they do provide you with feedback, make sure to reflect on their feedback and channel it towards becoming a better applicant.
4) Be honest with yourself when you are deciding which internships to apply to.
Last year I applied to almost 40 internships, which for me, was a lot. Part of the reason why I did this was to play the numbers game. Looking back, I now understand how important it is to apply to positions that actually interest and excite you. I know that many students don’t have the liberty to pursue exactly what they dream. But just know that if you apply to a position that wouldn’t really fit you, it will probably come across in your application that you aren’t the right candidate.
You can better your chances if you apply to something you truthfully see yourself doing, or at least something that matches up with your past experience. Even without the perfect background, it is a better bet to apply to less internships, but ones you can demonstrate real passion for, than to apply to as many internships as possible just to maximize your chances of getting a response.
5) Remember that securing an internship is not the be-all and end-all.
Although the life of a student is often marked by stress and competition, if you don’t get an internship for the summer (or during the school year), it is not the end of the world. There are so many other valuable and enriching ways to spend your summer. Any experience is a good experience, as long as you treat it as a learning opportunity. And it doesn’t have to be some grand activity or achievement – you don’t have to spend your summer finding the cure for cancer or becoming the next Greta Thunberg (unless you want to do that, then go for it!).
If you can’t find something to do this summer, try looking for simple, daily activities that exercise your brain a little or promote personal growth. In the end, companies are hiring people, not words on a resume. Try not to put too much pressure or focus on becoming the best, most accomplished student, because you might end up losing sight of the people and the opportunities right in front of you. You won’t be a student here forever. Good luck!
By Sara Cheung