Internships for high school and college students are becoming more and more popular with good reason – they give students a great opportunity to explore their interests and learn real world skills in a safe environment.
The interview and application process is a new experience for most students, and as a veteran hirer of interns, here are my key pointers for all the prospective interns out there:
Cover Letters and Resumes. Employers don’t expect students to have robust resumes or years of experience to reflect on in a cover letter. What they DO expect is that students display professional maturity:
• Spelling, grammar, and formatting should be impeccable – it shows attention to detail and polish. If you have not graduated from college yet, your writing and grammar are most likely much worse than you think they are (seriously). Get someone more experienced to proofread!
• Cover letters should be SPECIFIC to the particular internship and company. Well-articulated enthusiasm for the company and position is impactful, generic personal statements are not.
The Interview. When evaluating interns (particularly younger ones who are not entering their senior year of college), there are a few key factors that employers look for:
• Maturity – candidates show up on time, look presentable, and acknowledge the fact that they are in a professional environment. Bring a pen, a copy of your resume and cover letter, don’t chew gum, etc.
• Enthusiasm – employers want interns that are genuinely excited to work at their company, not interns whose parents are forcing them to do something “productive” for the summer.
• Personality – an intern’s ability to seamlessly blend into the company environment is very important. No one expects an intern to be a polished professional, but they do expect them to be fun, positive, excited to be working, eager to learn, and easy to work with.
• Intelligence – almost by definition, interns come to the job with little prior knowledge or skills. Employers expect interns to be bright, resourceful, and learn quickly at a wide variety of tasks.
• Etiquette – send a thank you note! It shows maturity and that you care about the internship.
This guide certainly does not cover ALL facets of internships, but hopefully it will give students a better idea of what employers are looking for!