Landing an Internship 101

Brace yourself internship deadlines are coming.

While most college students are preparing for finals and end-of-semester projects, journalism majors are busy updating their resumes and polishing their cover letters.

For the vast majority of students, November marks the last full month of classes. But for some, it means that application deadlines for landing a good internship for the upcoming spring semester is only a few weeks away.

For many aspiring journalist and public relations practitioners, internships are an essential part of getting a decent job right after graduation. In a career where experience and work samples often overshadow one’s GPA, landing a good internship can get very competitive.

There are a number of different ways that students can navigate their way through the challenges of securing an internship and separate themselves from their peers after graduation.

Here are a few tips that can help make the process of getting an internship a lot easier:

Make sure that you network

We’ve all heard the saying, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.”

This is something that is often overlooked by most intern-hopefuls when turning in their resumes. It is a valuable tool that you need to remember when applying for an internship.

It is up to you to put yourself out there.

Befriend and introduce yourself to as many professionals in the field as often as you can. Shake their hand, give them your name and if appropriate, get their phone number or their email address to stay in contact.

Alumni often come to visit their schools as guest speakers to talk about what it’s like working as professionals in their field. More often than not, they also come to try and recruit people to come work as interns in their organizations.

Being proactive is something that a lot of employers look for in applicants. Even if they aren’t looking for interns at that very moment, you can at least make it known that you are interested in working for them. When the time comes, you would have already gotten the opportunity to speak to them. Hopefully, you’ll be someone they’ll remember when going through resumes. This will give youan edge over your competition when the time comes.

Be active on social media

We are in the midst of the Digital Age. Having a presence on social media platforms or within the web in general, is something that you always need to keep in mind—especially when you’re thinking about a career in journalism and PR.

Make sure that you regularly engage in social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram. But keep in mind that future employers will look at your accounts, so make sure that you conduct yourself in a professional manner when posting content. If you need to, make a separate social media account that is strictly for professional use.

Suggestions:

  • Twitter is a great platform to network and engage with professionals from your field. Retweet them, post stories they write, engage with them in conversations about your profession.
  • Share work samples like feature stories, press releases and newsletters you’ve produced on Facebook and Twitter to show or create the impression that you have an audience and following.
  • In addition to Facebook and Twitter, make sure that you post your work samples on LinkedIn. Keep it updated as often as possible. You never know when employers look at your LinkedIn profile. It is also something that can be easily available to show to employers when they ask for a resume.
  • Learn how to create a website resume. User-friendly website generators are available online that allow people with no prior web design experience to create aesthetically pleasing and professional websites.

Sac Bee Office PhotoAt my desk at the Sacramento Bee, where I held a 10-week internship this summer as as sports writer.

Treat yourself as a brand

Think of it as you being the product and your future employers are the consumers. Why should they buy what you’re selling?

Dress in appropriate attire every time you have to meet with someone who you want to network with. Be conversational and friendly but not inappropriate when talking. You want to look friendly and approachable, but you don’t want to come off as unprofessional. During an internship, you will be in a workplace working side-by-side with your employers on a daily basis. You want to be seen as someone who is fun, or if nothing else, tolerable to work with in a confined space for at least 10-weeks.

Produce content that you are proud of. You will share work samples online that employers can see. Make sure that anything you create will impress them and make them want to hire you. Don’t share content online that could seem like it was created last minute. Always put forward your best work.

Keep in mind that every time you network or post something online, it is a representation of you. Take pride in yourself.

By Jose Olivar, Editor

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