It’s difficult to start thinking about plans for the summer, especially with the chilly weather and winter storms, but it’s that time of year again—time to start applying to those summer internship programs. My search began a few months ago when I attended the Hofstra PRSSA Networking Dinner. After meeting so many inspiring professionals, I decided to begin conducting some research of my own. Below is a list of steps to take in order to land your perfect summer internship, with some do’s and don’ts you should follow along the way:
- Have the essentials: Before you start looking for internships, make sure that you have an up-to-date copy of your resume and appropriate writing samples to send out.
Do: Write about your extracurricular activities, especially if you do not have much internship experience. It shows that you can follow through with a commitment, and work well with others.
Don’t: Write about organizations you participated in or jobs you held in high school, unless they are relevant to the field you are looking for an internship in. Although being a member of your high school’s Key Club is admirable, it is no longer relevant—get involved in activities at your university!
Advice: PR major? Get involved in PRSSA (www.prssa.org). It will give you great PR experience and something to put on your resume. Also, visit your school’s career center for any questions you have regarding your resume or writing samples.
- Be proactive: The perfect opportunity is NOT going to fall into your lap. You will have to go out of your way to find internships.
Do: Utilize resources offered to you by your university (such as the Pride Management System application for Hofstra students), and sites such as PRSSA (http://www.prssa.org/internships/) and Intern Queen (www.internqueen.com). It may also be a good idea to follow your favorite companies on Twitter; they may post internship opportunities on Twitter first.
Don’t: Use resources that make you pay. With so many free sites out there, it is not worth your money.
- Do your homework: Once you have come up with a list of companies, start doing some digging. There are so many different fields within the PR industry, so you should make sure that a company offers practices that interest you.
Do: Look at some of the work that the company has done in the past. Read over the company’s values, press releases, and case studies to get a better understanding of the company culture. Still not sure which company would suit you best? Check out http://www.internshipratings.com/ for reviews on internships in tons of different industries and cities.
Don’t: Be close-minded. I was convinced that I wanted to work in entertainment PR, but once I interned in the Health & Beauty Department at an agency last summer, I changed my mind. Now I want to experience as much of the PR industry as possible before deciding which sector I want to specialize in.
- Address to Impress: Congratulations! You have narrowed down your choices; it’s now time to make your first impression through your cover letter.
Do: View yourself as a brand, and portray yourself in the best possible way—sell yourself! Highlight qualities that demonstrate that you are the best candidate for the position, and give examples.
Don’t: Write a generic cover letter filled with clichés. Some adjectives are used so often that they lose their meaning. Check out the most overused buzzwords from LinkedIn: http://blog.linkedin.com/2010/12/14/2010-top10-profile-buzzwords/. Also, companies can tell when you are sending out the same cover letter and simply changing the company name—don’t do it.
Advice: When writing cover letters, make sure to explain both why they should choose you and why you chose them. Write about your past experiences and the skills you possess that would help you succeed as an intern, but also let them know what about their company stood out and impressed you.
And remember: both your cover letter and resume should be no longer than a page.
Rebeeca Wool Junior PRSSA Treasurer