So the fall semester has come and gone by, and it is now the New Year. Everyone’s ready to get back into another school semester refreshed and ready to learn after enjoying a relaxing winter holiday.
Even though the new semester has only just begun, I spent my holidays surfing through online jobs in my quest to seek an internship for the summer. Because it never hurts to plan ahead of time, right?
Well, that advice couldn’t be truer. I was completely shocked by what I found while browsing job sites: employers have already started posting their summer job opportunities! Applications are due in late January, while interviews are happening as early as February!
Since when do employers post summer jobs in the winter?! This was definitely news to me.
So if you’re like me and you’re looking to land an exciting internship for the summer, here’s what you need to do to get ahead of the game:
Searching the right company
Start brainstorming and researching some companies that you are interested in, the types of work that you would like to do, or jobs that are tailored towards your major (if you’ve already chosen one).
For example, if you’re hoping to go into finance, check out banks and financial services firms to see if they have an internship program. But think outside the box, because you don’t have to limit yourself to the financial industry to get a finance internship, as almost every company has a finance department in need of an analyst, treasurer, etc.
Searching for an internship
When looking for an internship, don’t stop at just an online job hunt as many jobs aren’t even advertised. Consult your school’s career services department and the people in your social network.
Perhaps one of your best resources is your professors, who will almost certainly be able to connect you to employers by a personal reference. A lucky friend of mine scored an internship and full-time work at an esteemed tax firm thanks to our tax prof!
It is important that you think about what you want out of the internship and how you can use your past work experiences to move forward in building future success. Find and apply to jobs that will get you closer to the career you’re considering, to show employers that you’re interested and ready to work for them.
Polishing your resume
Employers browse through hundreds of resumes, so make your resume unique! I like to use logos on my resume to showcase the companies I have worked for.
Start with your education at the top of your resume, and make sure to indicate your anticipated graduation date – employers generally seek students who are in their third or fourth year, and who will soon be available for full-time work immediately after graduation. Include your major and don’t forget to show off your dazzling GPA.
Another tip is to list relevant courses that you’ve taken to show employers what you already know. Next, list your previous work experience by relevance – it does not have to be in chronological order!
Try your best to quantify where appropriate. For example, the number of customers you dealt with daily, sales targets that you met, how much money you fundraised, how many people you managed, etc.
Finish off with any relevant volunteer experience, extra-curricular involvement and provide links to your online presence.
Writing a great cover letter
A cover letter is your chance to deliver a sales pitch to the employer, selling your talent and competence by referencing keywords from the job ad itself. Be passionate and enthusiastic, and write why you want to work for the company.
The top five skills in demand are communication, leadership, analytical, technical, and interpersonal, so make sure to highlight these skills via working proof of your experiences from both school and past jobs. Remember, the employer is looking for what you can do for them.
Submitting your application
The rule is quality over quantity – don’t apply to every job you come across. Once you find internships where the job descriptions truly match what you’ve got, put effort into your application. Some employers hire through an online database, so you may need to put effort into filling in an online application by answering questions, giving examples of previous work experience, or even completing reasoning tests.
For a final touch, you may wish to attach your unofficial transcript, any relevant work samples (sometimes required for jobs in journalism or media) and make sure to be polite and professional if you’re sending your application by email.
Acing the interview
Pre-interview, learn the basics about the company and prepare thoughtful answers to questions likely to be asked of you. At the interview, relate every answer back to your skills and past experiences, what you learned from them, and highlight them again on your resume. Show genuine interest, be prepared, and be professional!
We all know that job-hunting can be exasperating and time-consuming work, but if you stay focused and start planning ahead of time, all that hard work will certainly pay off! Good luck in your job search!
Photo credit: University of Saskatchewan