How to Promote Yourself for Your First Internship in Today’s Job Market

Have you finished your degree or certificate?  Are you looking for a summer internship?  Or maybe you are looking for your first career position in today’s job market.  We are here to give you some insights and guidelines to help market yourself for that all important first internship or beginning career employment.  Below are some of the important fundamentals and rules you need to follow to land that first coveted job placement towards your path of career success.     

Your Resume & Cover Letter

Whether in an interview, on an online profile, or at a networking event,  you should always be marketing yourself to potential employers.   You number one calling card will always be your resume.  It is the ultimate first impression without meeting in person physically. Do your best to make it stand out and count.  It is important when creating and writing your resume that the final effect will grasp the attention of the hiring manager while reading it.   Try and differentiate yourself.  Review the particular wording used in the job description and try to target and match your job skills with those words. 

Additionally, always remember to include a cover letter.  The cover letter allows you to convey in more detail about your resume and your background.   Similarly, the cover letter also can express a bit about your personality.   Again, always remember to tailor your cover letter and to make sure it matches your resume.   

Social Media Presence

With the advent of social media, there are many more options and platforms for job seekers to make themselves stand out against other candidates,  but you need to know how to use social media correctly to your advantage.  For job seekers, LinkedIn, it is the best social media channel and it is the number one social media channel that recruiters do use to find potential candidates.   

Coastline College Communications Director, Dawn Willson, who has been marketing businesses nationwide for over 25 years says,  “LinkedIn is a MUST for job seekers.  People should actively seek accolades and testimonials through the platform because employers do look. Most people do not have a personal website, so LinkedIn may be the only profile for you on the web, so it needs to be your best.  From the photo, to the job titles, from having key words in the job description, the importance of having a presence on Linkedin cannot be said enough. It is also important to fill out as many of the fields that they have possible. Books published, seminars you spoke at, internships or volunteering at the food bank. etc., They want to see your work history, yes, but often employers want to know what kind of a person you are and if you will fit in with their company values. You want the right match for yourself as well! So be honest about who you are and put it all out there

There are other more personal social channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram out there on the web and it is important to remember that whatever you upload on your profile on these media channels can also be seen by your potential employer.  So, bear in mind and be aware of what you are posting about yourself for anyone to see.  Posting photos of you partying like a rock star on your Facebook page may hinder your efforts when applying for employment and you can LOSE a job opportunity if your other media channels are not kept in check.

Create an Alluring Elevator Pitch (Personal Branding Statement)

A strong introductory elevator pitch is essentially a verbal calling card in along with  your written resume.   A great elevator pitch shows your communications skills and as well as your experience and goals in an introductory statement when meeting with people at networking events or beginning a one-on-one job interview.  It should contain basic elements such as who you are and your background, what job position you are looking at, a list of your skills and qualifications, and why you feel you are the best candidate for the job. This in written form can also be included in your professional social media profile. 

Check out these following links for some examples of elevator pitches.

https://www.cmu.edu/career/documents/quick-tips/elevator-pitch.pdf

https://www.snhu.edu/about-us/newsroom/2019/04/elevator-pitch-examples

Be Pro-Active

Be hands-on in your job search.   Reach and contact those recruiters and hiring managers.   You can connect to them via email or you can find them on social media, generally via LinkedIn or Twitter. Do not  be afraid to reach out.   There are so many resumes submitted for any given open or available position, that by reaching out, not only are you showing you are proactive and assertive but you can also sometimes get a clearer picture of what the potential employer is specifically looking for in a candidate.    

Communications Director, Dawn Willson goes on to say, “Also, ask your friends. Ask friends of friends in industries. Join groups that are relevant to your industry on Linkedin and Facebook and ask around in these groups. Examples: You want a job in solar panels… there are a ton of groups about solar panels on Linkedin and other sustainable groups that could be related to them. Ask to join and tell them it is because you are passionate about the industry and you are looking for opportunities. Engage in conversations in the group and show your knowledge and intelligence. Trust me, someone will take notice and you will not only get real networking out of it, you may a friend or two as well. No groups for what you want to do? Start one! Show your initiative to employers and they will see you have no problem picking up the ball when it is time to run. Show your expertise in other ways as well, write a short ten-page eBook, share it online and in the groups. Write a 10-page power-point presentation on the state of the industry…show your worth, be proactive. You only get once chance to shine in that one moment against all others. Give it your best shot.”

Go to Networking Events

Above we reference online networking, but there are the physical networking events as well. In the days of COVID that has been tapered down a bit, but there are still job fairs and new fields hiring all the time. No matter what stage of COVID lock-down one is in, one of the best ways to find a job is by referral or word of mouth – that means make contact with others, for all you introverts out there.  Networking and participating in networking events are also invaluable for building a list of contacts which you can maintain not only for your present job search, but your future job search as well. And don’t just go to hand out your card either. Really try to connect and BE GENUINE, talk.  Do not look at your cell phone and expect someone to approach you.  It won’t happen. 

Develop a list of potential companies or job positions that you are  interested in pursuing and look for events affiliated to your specific industry so you can network with their representatives attending.  Build a rapport and develop a relationship with people you meet at these events that are in your field of work or interest.  You never know what the future may hold, and you may develop a personal and professional friendship and bond with some of the people you meet at these networking and industry events.

The Interview

Your first impression only lasts the first 30 seconds when you walk in the room. After that, you cannot give another first impression. It’s done. You had your chance before you walked through that door. Always come as they say, dressed for success.    That doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy a 3-piece $3000 suit. If you are a student, an ironed shirt with a tie will suffice, but comb your hair, shower, don’t wear jeans with holes in it or bad shoes. Show that you made an effort.  Even if it is a casual job and you will be doing construction all day, do not show up in your work boats and hard hat for the interview. Get it? It only shows disrespect for the opportunity.

Read the room – are they busy? Do they seem irritated? Do they seem like a person that likes jokes?  What should you say – do your homework. Research the person and company you are interviewing them. Don’t wait for questions, make small talk on what you have learned. SHOW your initiative before as soon as you walk in the door. You see a baseball on their desk next to a picture of their family – mention you played baseball in high school too.   

Your resume and cover letter, along with your education and skills got you in the door for that welcomed interview.   But remember, first impressions are always lasting and how you present yourself physically and verbally will determine if you move forward for that internship job position.   Your choice of outfit says a lot about you.  Do your homework and be prepared to know what is exactly required of the job position.  Be relaxed, but professional and ready to nail the interview.

During the Interview

1.   Answer the questions! I know this may seem obvious, but sometimes if one cannot answer a simple direct question, that will kill your chances on the spot.

2.   Don’t go on and on unless they ask you something open ended.

3.   If you do not know the answer, or don’t have experience in something in particular – own it. Do not lie. It could ruin your chances for the position, but it may also help you, you may never know and it could also lead to a position that is a better fit or that may have better pay.

4.   Remember, you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you, so have a list of questions ready before you go in, so you can look interested and invested.

5.   At the end, ask about follow-ups, 2nd interviews, length of process. Ask if you can send any sample work or further information – to give yourself an open to follow up.

After an Interview, Send a Thank You Note

In today’s fast moving and modern world, sometimes some good old-fashioned customs are important to remember to keep up and do.    After any interview you have, a wise and well-remembered proper response is to send a traditional hand-written brief thank you letter after the meeting or interview.  

Director of Communications, Dawn Willson had this to add, “I applied to a job at Cisco once, and I wanted to make a great impression and I knew it was a highly competitive position and they had narrowed it down between me and three other candidates. I had already sent my follow-up thank you letter, so I need to do something else after the third interview to make a memorable impression – it was decision time. I took a chance and guessed that the IT guy who was the final interview, who had graduated from high school in the late 80’s was most likely a Star Wars fan. It was just a guess, but it was a lucky guess. I sent him an animated ecard – altered of course: https://www.hallmarkecards.com/ecards/yoda:-master-teacher-npz5133/personalize

As it turns out, I guessed right! This was his exact response:

Hi Dawn,

Thanks for the eCard. How did you know I was a Star Wars guy?

As an update, our staffing team will be reaching out to schedule an additional interview with

AnnMarie Link who is part of my team. Appreciate you going through this process with us.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Regards,

Gary

“Bingo! If I would have guessed wrong and he wasn’t a Star Wars guy, then it would have been ok, because the message was relevant enough in the animated video. But, no one else sent him an animated e-card with Yoda talking on it and he remembered me for it. He probably shared it with at least one other person he works with in the office or at the very least, in the hiring process and he most likely shared it with his wife and kids when he got him, as a story that happened to him at work that day. That e-card cost me $3.99 to email. Would I do that for every job interview? No. However, for the ones that count, for the job you really want, you go the extra mile.

You make sure they remember you. You may wonder… did I get the job? No and Yes.  They ended up going with someone else that was a better fit for that position, but they came back to me a month later and signed a 6-month contract with me to work with them on another project. The cost of a Starbuck’s cup of coffee is what it took to be remembered.”

For an internship, you may think you do not need to pull out all the stops…you are on the bottom rung the ladder, no one will notice you, you think. Not true. Everyone pays attention to the new kid on the block. Everyone is looking for new talent, a good hard worker, an honest person.

“It only takes one job, one internship to change your life that could lead you on the path to success you never dreamed of, or it could be the path you did dream of and you got a big break because you were able to land an internship at the right place.” says Willson.

E-Mail for the interview follow-up is also quite acceptable and a welcome custom. Bring up something from the meeting, say it was a pleasure to meet them and you appreciate their time and the interview as well as show your continued interest in the position.  

Final Words

You want to stay ahead of the competition;  it is a competitive work market out there.   So following some of these guidelines should help you in your career journey!