Searching for a place in the “big-kid” world takes hard work and dedication. Most college students try to gain internship experiences during the summer. But getting those career-focused opportunities takes more care and planning than just finding a minimum-wage, after-school job in high school.
CAFNR’s Career Services Pinterest board and Whitney Kinne, assistant director of CAFNR Career Services, offer ten suggestions for a successful internship search.
1. Dress Appropriately
Proper attire for both men and women is essential in any professional situation. Men should wear a traditional suit and tie combination, dress shoes with proper socks, a dress shirt, belt, and, if desired, a watch. Women should follow similar guidelines and wear a darker, neutral-colored pant or skirt suit accompanied by a modest blouse to go under the jacket.
“Don’t try to be too trendy,” said Kinne, of CAFNR Career Services, “The newest boot and legging trend is not good business wear.”
It is also best to keep jewelry subtle and to a minimum for women. Don’t let your appearance distract from the position you are seeking.
2. Research the Company
“Don’t just talk to every company,” said Laura Bolte, elevator manager of the grain division at Bunge.
Before applying for a position within a business, make sure you know about that specific company. Do research on the role you want to fulfill as well as into the background and history of the business.
Bolte said that talking to every company you see at a career fair doesn’t help narrow down your own personal search. She suggests focusing on the companies with positions you would truly want to pursue.
3. Have an Up-to-Date Resume
The resume that you had to create for business class junior year in high school should not be the same one you present to future employers while in college. It is important to go over your saved resume and update it as needed. Include education and recent accomplishments and other internships you’ve had. Kinne said to think of your resume as an advertisement for yourself. It should look organized and be formatted correctly. Kinne also said to make sure the contents are concise and clear.
4. Be Yourself
“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it,” said famous poet and author, Maya Angelou.
On the journey to gaining an internship the last thing you want to be is someone other than yourself. During an interview for a job, don’t stray from who you are as a person and what you stand for. Never hold back from answering truthfully that your worst trait is procrastination or that you are most proud of being president of your student council.
5. Follow Up
After talking to professionals at a career fair, submitting an application or even handing out your resume, following-up is a smart habit to get into.
“Follow up, follow up, follow up,” said manager of talent acquisition Erin Barr of OsbornBarr.
She emphasized being consistent in your follow ups with companies. Do not email or call the company every day, by any means, but it is appropriate to type an email up a few days to a week after sending in a cover letter or going in for an interview.
6. Have an Introduction Prepared
“Tell me about yourself,” is the common first interview or first meeting question heard all around the business world. With this question, it is vital to make sure you have an introduction or “elevator speech” ready to go. Try not to keep your speech longer than 30 seconds and get straight to the point.
“They should include they’re name, major, and what they’re brief goals are,” Kinne said.
7. Don’t Be Too Modest
Understand that it is okay to brag about yourself — to an extent. Kinne said to share your strengths and weaknesses, this way the employer you are talking to can envision a specific job for you. Do your best to not appear conceited or overly confident, though, if the interviewer asks you why you would be good for the company. Embrace being good at the talents you have been given.
8. Have a Firm Handshake
Handshakes can make or break a first impression with potential employers. A handshake also gives insight to one’s confidence. A firm handshake is clearly set-apart from handshakes that are weak or have too much force behind them. You, as the person seeking the internship or job, should initiate the handshake. Kinne also said that a good handshake should include making good eye contact.
9. Good Eye Contact
Samantha Wilkerson Davis, a representative for the Missouri Department of Agriculture, said that she appreciates someone who is good about keeping eye contact with her during those first few minutes after an introduction. It shows that you are sincerely interested in learning about opportunities the company has, and it helps Davis feel that she is investing her time in a person who really cares about what her organization has to offer.
10. Ask your own questions
Specifically, in an interview setting, don’t hesitate to ask questions you may have for the company. Write down your questions before the interview and practice asking them to help make a good impression.
“[Interviews] not only allow the company to interview you, but give you the opportunity to interview the company,” said training specialist for Monsanto, Deb Bilyeu.