Sitting around soaking up the sun sounds like a nice way to spend your summer break, but it won’t help you get a leg up after graduation. What will? The perfect internship. An internship in your field where you come out with relevant work experience and excellent contacts to add to your professional network is the best thing you could do with the three months between semesters. Here are four essentials every college student should include in their summer internship application package.
- Not just any resume
Of course you’ll have to send in a resume, but what your resume says and how it looks are equally important. Your resume should have a corresponding appearance to the career you want to pursue. Attorneys will have a very traditional resume (no Comic Sans!), graphic designers should use their resume to show off their skills. Video resumes are gaining steam, too, so you might want to recruit some of your film class buddies to help you come up with the right way to send your message, then upload it to YouTube. If you go that route, you’ll also need to have a paper resume, but can also include a link to your video resume in your cover letter. Speaking of which…
- A cover letter in your unique voice
Many companies are less interested in what you can do for them and more interested in how you’ll fit in their company’s culture. The wrong fit can throw the balance off. As company culture has come to the forefront in many startups and even through large corporations, it’s essential that you know something about the company before you apply and send a message that you’ll fit in nicely with your cover letter. Of course, your cover letter should have all the essentials — which internship department you’re applying for, why you think you’re a great candidate, etc. — but the letter should also say something about you through its tone and other inclusions. Information about what you love to do outside of school or work seems trivial, but it can set you apart and make your application memorable.
Okay, so you have the resume and cover letter. Maybe you’re not quite ready to look for an internship just yet, or you’re waiting to be accepted or have an interview. In the mean time, consider adding a new line to your resume that will get the attention of potential employers: tutoring with Solution Inn. On Solution Inn’s platform, you can be listed as a tutor in subjects you excel in, or find a tutor to help you in classes you’re finding challenging. It’s a win-win.
- Memorable references
Your friend-since-kindergarten might sound like a good person to include in a reference list, but unless they’ve got their own long list of accomplishments and credibility, you might want to reconsider. Who to include? If you’ve taken a class with a department head in your field, that would be a good place to start (if you did well in the class, of course). Talk to advisors for your extra-curricular activities, too. Know any community leaders back home? Ask them to consider being one of your references as well. Your references’ accomplishments will reflect well on you. The logic there: If a respected person respects you, you are worth respecting.
- Writing samples you’re proud of
Those essays you wrote in English Comp 1 are about to come in handy. You thought they were just throw-away essays for no reason? Think again. Those assignments are about to become your best asset in showing many of the skills your future internship mentors are going to want to see: reading comprehension, excellent communication, critical thinking. Pick one or two of the assignments you are most proud of and send them in with your application. In your cover letter, include an Addendum on a separate page that explains what the one or two additional documents are and why they’re important to your application — what do they demonstrate about your skills?
Whatever internship you’re applying for, include these four elements and you’ll set yourself apart from the rest of the college students looking for an advantage in the job market. Make sure you read the application form carefully and include any other requirements. Employers don’t want to have to follow up unnecessarily, so if you miss an important part of your application, chances are you won’t get a second look.