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5 steps to applying for your dream internship


Friday, October 17, 2014

When selecting the best intern candidate, employers take into account previous experience, GPA, relevant college majors and other awards and achievements. Even if all of this is impressive, it can still be difficult to stand out from the competition when it comes to landing your dream internship. Here's how to make sure your application catches the eye of the right people and earns you an interview with your top choice.

1. Do your research
Whether you realize it or not, it's obvious to employers how long you have been familiar with their product or company. Knowing what a company does is just one small piece of the company profile. When looking for an internship opportunity, the "About us" section of the company's Web site is a great starting point, but shouldn't be the only source of information. You should look at recent company news by browsing the  "press" or "news" section where you will find press releases, product updates or employee profiles. Make sure you know some of the most recent developments, as this can help you tailor your application to what's most important to the company at the moment.

2. Enhance your résumé
As an intern, you are not necessarily expected to have a long list of relevant work experience. However, that doesn't mean you can get away with a sparse résumé. Internweb.com, an online resource for interns and applicants, recommends keeping the internship description handy while you create or tweak your résumé. While you can't list skills you don't have or responsibilities you have never undertaken, the description can serve as a guide to help you decide which parts of your past experience to highlight. Adjust your résumé according to what the company considers to be important skills for the job.

3. Write an engaging cover letter
Gone are the days of boring, straightforward cover letters. Rather than rehash what your résumé already lists, use your cover letter to let your passion shine through. Forbes noted that enthusiasm for the company or position is typically more meaningful than simply getting good grades. Make sure you explain why you're interested and how you can benefit the company by being a part of the team. Describe any relevant projects you've undertaken  in your free time. This will alert  potential employers that you are motivated and driven even without the compensation  of pay or college credit.

4. Include recommendations
Some applications require recommendations. However, even if the position you are applying for does not, it's a great idea to include a few recommendations. Anyone can talk about their good grades and enthusiasm for a position, but having another employer or professor reinforce it is incredibly valuable to a potential employer. Not only does it add credibility to your experience, but it also shows that you work well with others and make a good impression on your colleagues. Either ask your former managers or teachers for a tangible letter or use LinkedIn to your benefit. There, you can request connections to endorse you for skills and experience, and you can also reach out to colleagues and employers for personal recommendations that appear at the bottom of your profile.

5. Send and follow up appropriately
While it may seem like a simple step, it's one that can easily make or break your application. An internship description generally lists directions for submissions. It's important to follow them appropriately. Sending an application manually when they request electronically is a big no-no, as is following up personally when it clearly says not to. Read the instructions carefully, and act accordingly to increase your chances of getting your dream internship.

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