Regardless of your major, or what kind of job you eventually want to end up in, you probably would love to land the internship of your dreams next summer. Whether this means an unpaid internship at one of the hot startups of the week or a glamorous investment banking internship on Wall Street, it takes some work to stand out from the crowd. As is often the case, this work takes time to do well – and can be done exceptionally well if you start earlier.
While some may argue otherwise, I believe that the benefits of a summer internship far outweigh any drawbacks. Seeing how well an industry fits your personality and work style, networking with executives and managers, and gracing your resume with real-life experience are all major pluses. Often, you are even paid a fair bit to do all this. Pretty solid deal, in my book.
So, given the allure of an internship, here are things you can do starting right now to put yourself ahead of the pack.
Gain Marketable Experience
At this point in the summer, hopefully you already have something cool to do with your time. But if you don’t, fear not my friend! We’ve got you covered. Anyway, whether you have some sort of job or prefer the personal project route, make sure you soak up as much as you can from the experience. It helps if you have fun, by the way.
Fine, I’ll come clean. The title of this section is misleading. Marketing your experience has little to do with the nature of the work you did – it is all about how you describe what you learned from it. Flipping burgers could be a mindless waste of time or it could be an enlightening view into developing efficient processes and an effective brand image. (I’m a business geek, what to do…)
Put in a little effort finding something interesting to occupy your time this summer, and a little bit more effort thinking of cool ways to talk about it. Your prospective employers will thank you.
Update Your Resume
How do you quickly convey this newly acquired marketable experience? That’s right, you put it on your resume. Recruiters use your resume as a quick snapshot of your qualifications and more often than not, they will spend less than a minute scanning it. Make it worth their time.
Use any extra time you have this summer to update and clean up everything on your resume. Make sure you are clear and concise in your bullet points to convey exactly what kind of impact you had and what skills you developed. Get feedback from friends to make tweaks and improvements that you didn’t catch. Of course check and double check for typos.
When the school year starts, you will have an impactful and polished resume to whip out whenever you need it.
Make friends. That’s all networking is. We all have countless opportunities every day to meet new people and it just takes a simple “Hello” and a question to start a conversation. Make sure to not worry about who can help you with what when you’re out making these new friends. For now, just focus on being yourself and slowly but surely your network will grow. This can be done on social networks or in person, whatever works for you. Either way though, set goals for yourself – like meeting at least one new person every day.
People that genuinely like you and would do you a favor are a huge asset in your upcoming internship search. They can and will introduce you to new contacts, give you tips about life, and put in a good word where it counts.
Summer is a great because you generally have more time and less stress than during the school year. How are you using this time to get ahead? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter!