One of the most important things that students — regardless of their year in school — can do for themselves is apply for future internships.
Many businesses have already closed their application processes for their summer programs, but there are still tons of opportunities to network and find internships.
Interviewing for an internship isn’t just about going out there and charming an HR rep, it’s about being ready to handle tough questions and showing what you bring to the table.
Like one of my professors always say, “Proper prior preparation prevents poor performance.”
Here are seven key components of securing an internship:
1. Be proactive
The worst thing that you can do while searching for an opportunity is to sit back and wait for it to come knocking at your door. Go out and get your dream internship, because no one is going to hand it to you.
K-State offers various outlets for students through Career and Employment Services, including the spring 2013 career fairs (the Agri-business career fair is actually taking place tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Union Ballroom) which offer a platform to meet potential employers.
After interviewing, make sure that you follow up. Nothing says “I don’t care” more than not sending a post-interview thank you letter or email. Your interviewer has most likely talked to hundreds of students, so try to make yourself stand out.
Taking a few steps and being proactive can drastically improve your chances of securing an internship.
2. Do your homework on your prospective employer
Even in everyday conversation people love to talk about themselves. The more you can relate to the other person, the easier it is to make connections.
The same is true while looking to find employment.
Before you go looking for an opportunity, the first thing you need to do is conduct thorough research. Not only will this help you understand what kind of businesses you are looking to intern for, but it will also help you get background information in order to hold an in-depth conversation with your employer.
3. Play to your strengths
Remember, you don’t have to be good at every single thing that you do in order to be a good candidate for employment.
Focus on what you can do, and give your interviewer an idea of what strengths you bring to their company.
That’s not to say that if you are asked about your weaknesses you avoid answering. Try and be honest with what you struggle with, tell them how you are working to improve, and move on.
Make the center of the conversation what you are passionate about and how your strengths match the company’s needs.
4. Have a clean, professional resume
Having a well-put-together resume is the easiest way to catch someone’s attention. Make sure that your resume is updated, professional and easy to follow.
Only include your most significant accomplishments, and make sure that you have designated a system of organization for your items (chronological order, categorical order, etc.).
It is often said that employers look at your resume for less than a minute before they gain enough understanding of who you are and what you can bring to the table.
Make that the best minute of their day.
5. Look the part
Looks matter. It’s that simple.
What interviewers first see becomes their first impression of you. Being well groomed, following basic hygiene and wearing appropriate attire shows that you can maintain professional conduct, and shows that you are willing to get out of your sweats for the job.
Dress for the position that you one day want to hold. Not only will it increase your own confidence, but it will also assure your interviewer that you are serious about your opportunity.
6. Be succinct and honest
No one likes a long, drawn-out explanation for a very simple question. Don’t be that person.
When you interview, stick to the point. Provide details when necessary, and be direct with your answers. If the interviewer wants you to elaborate, they will usually ask you to expand on your answer.
Also, honesty is truly the best policy. If you embellish certain details, sooner or later, it will come to light.
Giving your interviewer an accurate representation of who you are and what you are capable is paramount to finding the right place to work.
7. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
Leave your options open while applying for work. Even if you have your heart set on applying to intern at a certain business, you never know what situation you will find yourself in.
The last thing you want to happen is to count on something fully, and then have it fall through.
Apply to a variety of different positions — you never know what you’ll find.
Andy Rao is a junior in accounting and finance. Please send comments to email@example.com.