Subject: How to land a great internship without having connections
If you’ve made it to this website, there’s a good chance you’re interested in getting an internship or at least having a decent career—whether it’s to get your foot in the door of an industry you’re passionate about or you’re simply hoping to make some money this summer.
For many people, landing the internship of their dreams is not an easy thing—especially when they don’t have the connections to get them through the first round of interviews.
Unfortunately, in this day in age, your network is everything. And when you are first launching yourself into the professional world, it’s hard to have an arsenal of professionals’ business cards up your sleeve right off the bat.
I was once in your shoes. Heck, I still am in your shoes. But, I’ve also managed to land two major internships recently without having many, if any, connections at all.
Here are some lessons I’ve learned on how to make your name stand out during the internship process, without having someone on the other side to vouch for you.
Research, research, research
Before having an interview with your potential employer, it’s super important to research as much as you can about the company. This is especially true for more prestigious internships, where you are competing against other people who might have more experience than you. The more knowledge you have going into the interview, the more likely you’ll be able to nail any question they through at you.
Use online resources such as LinkedIn or Handshake
When it comes to getting an idea of the types of interview questions you might get, websites such as Glassdoor can be incredibly useful. On the website, you can find other questions previous interns and you can also get a sense of how difficult the interview will be. Something I’d recommend doing is creating flashcards from the interview questions on the site to rehearse beforehand. And when it comes to making connections out of thin air, LinkedIn and Handshake can be your survival guide to finding employers at your dream companies. Even sending a LinkedIn message to someone with a position you’d like to have at a company someday can be a great way to make a good first impression, even if you’ve never met them in person. Curiosity can take you far throughout this entire process.
Write thank-you emails following your interview
Yes, your mum is always right. Thank you notes are so important and can definitely set you apart from other candidates who might be in the same internship stage as you. Thank your potential future employer for their time after the interview. It especially never hurts to emphasise (again) just how excited you would be to work for “X” company someday.
Don’t give up!
Although it might be discouraging to apply to a variety of internships with little to no connections, don’t lose hope. There are so many companies out there looking to hire young talent with new perspectives, and sometimes all it takes is to search a little harder to find the perfect internship for you. In addition to searching websites such as LinkedIn and on the company websites themselves, also try reaching out to your career centre at university or college to see if there are any opportunities posted; sometimes, you can even find grants or fellowships that can ease some of the financial burdens of relocating to a different city for a summer internship. Regardless of whichever method you decide, the more internships you apply to, the more likely it is that you will get one of them in the end!
Although sometimes internships can be a crapshoot, being prepared is always your best weapon about what sometimes can be a connection-driven system. Remember to keep an open mind, do your research and persevere through the process—9 times out of 10, it works out in the end. And if it doesn’t, apply again next year, when you have even more experience under your belt.