(Editor’s note: Like a “real job,” finding a good internship isn’t easy and takes some work. For words of advice, we turned to Ohio State University student and Columbiana County native Haley Drake, who interned with Mahoning County’s OSU Extension office and the Ohio Farm Business Analysis Program this summer.)
When it comes to landing an internship, there are a few deal makers and breakers that will determine the success of an internship hunt. Listed below are some of the key things I have found that help (or hurt) when searching and applying for that dream job.
- Start now! If you are hoping to get an internship for next summer, or even in the next couple years, start researching companies and organizations that interest you. When employers can see that you took the time and effort to research them, it can do nothing but help.
- Network. Always be on the lookout for opportunities such as career fairs and leadership conferences; these help to get your foot in the door. Networking also helps you build relationships that could come in handy in the long run.
- Get involved! Always try to participate in clubs or extra-curricular activities. Employers like to see applicants who are involved in their community and take the time to improve their leadership skills.
- Update your resume. According to OSU Extension Field Specialist Dianne Shoemaker, an experienced interviewer, avoid having lists of every award or office you had in high school on your resume, although including larger awards such as an American FFA Degree or 4-H awards is recommended.
- Use a generic cover letter. When applying for an internship, Shoemaker also suggests you customize your cover letter for that specific position. Try to highlight your skills that are most compatible with the company and job you are applying for — it shows the employer that you are truly interested in the position and have done your homework. If you treat the internship as an important opportunity, you will stand out among other applicants.
- Use ‘To Whom it May Concern.’ When addressing your cover letter, always find out who will be interviewing you, or who the hiring manager is for the department you are applying for. Employers will be more willing to interview you if you take the time to research them.
- Wait until the last minute. Like I said earlier, if you know you want an internship, start the search now. A rushed resume and inadequate research will not be the best first impression you can give to an employer.
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No matter what you choose to apply for, make sure you always put in the time and effort so that you can have the best chance possible. Every application brings an opportunity to sharpen your communication and interview skills, along with making connections with people who can help you later in your career.
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