#1: Fail to Explore all Options
Internships come in all shapes and sizes and limiting your internship search too early can greatly limit the number of opportunities you end up applying for. College students are often still undecided on a future career path they'd like to pursue after college and internships provide an opportunity to check out various career fields or industries that they think they'd like to try.
In some of the big industries like finance, government, and publishing students oftentimes will seek out the biggest, most well-know companies. Although these companies can provide excellent opportunities for students, they are also very competitive. Although a student who has previous experience working for companies like JPMorgan, The Museum of Modern Art, or McGraw Hill can seem like a really big deal, interning at a smaller boutique firm, museum, or publishing house can provide valuable experience that can expose their interns to all aspects of the business.
#2: Fail to Create an Error-Free Resume and Cover Letter
The application materials you send in when applying for an internship are very similar to the “first impression rose” you see on the TV show The Bachelor. Once your documents have been submitted, you will not get a second chance to make a great first impression. When writing a resume or cover letter it’s a time when you want to let your perfectionistic tendencies come out. Also, be sure to have your resume and cover letter reviewed by a minimum of two people that you trust. Getting a second or third opinion on a resume never hurts and could provide valuable information that you would never think about yourself.
#3: Fail to Create a Targeted Resume and Cover Letter
Targeting your resume and cover letter to a specific internship and company will help provide them much more information than what just appears on the resume. Be sure to research the company prior to sending out your application. Knowing what the company is about and why you feel you are the perfect fit, should be included in your cover letter. By giving the company some insight about your personal interests and future career goals will help set you apart from the other candidates.
#4: Fail to Apply to as Many Internships as Possible
When applying to internships you will want to apply to all opportunities that meet your interests and criteria. Competition for getting an internship can often be fierce and you don’t want to limit your chances by only applying to the top one or two opportunities that are on your list. I recommend that you apply to as many internships as possible. Once you begin hearing back from employers you will be in the enviable position of having to make a choice.
#5: Fail to Follow Company Instructions
When applying for internships you may not think it’s imperative to follow each of the company’s instructions that are listed on their website. One employer may want just an application only while others may prefer a resume and cover letter. Always be sure to adhere if an employer explicitely states NO PHONE CALLS. By not following a company’s specific instructions you could end up being placed in the “no” pile even if you possess all of the qualifications the company is looking for.
#6: Fail to Follow up with Employers
Once you send in your resume and cover letter don’t make the mistake of sitting back and just waiting to hear back from the company. Remember the employer may have 100 resumes to review and it’s very easy to get caught up in the shuffle. Frequently employers do not have the time to read each and every resume and that’s why it’s so important to follow up after you’ve applied. By calling or emailing an employer and re-iterating your interest, you will hopefully get the employer to take a second look.
Although avoiding these 6 mistakes doesn't guarantee you'll be hired for an internship, it will give you a much better chance of being considered for at least one internship of your choice.