Finding a great internship can be intimidating if you’ve never done it before. Our tips can help you land an internship with your dream company!
Tips on Applying
Even if a company has not posted openings for interns, you can still submit a resume. Follow these guidelines when you apply:
- Make a list of companies or internship postings that interest you.
- Ensure that you meet any requirements in the internship descriptions and that you have researched the company and its location.
- Create a winning resume and cover letter by following our guidelines.
- If you’re applying for a specific position, include all the requested documents and follow any application instructions listed in the job posting. Follow all application instructions carefully.
- If you are not applying to a particular position and want to create your own internship, send the following information to the employer:
- Your resume
- A cover letter (be sure to indicate that you’re looking for a full-time, professional level internship and that you are eligible for an internship position in the U.S.)
- At least two professional or academic references
Before submitting anything, don’t forget to check your social media accounts. Make sure your Internet personality matches the one you want to project to your future employer. Yes, they do check your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, etc. Instead of being held back by your social media image, you can use these tools to power your search!
Tips on Interviewing
Employers who like your application and feel you would be a suitable candidate to intern or train with their organization will contact you to set up an interview, either in person if you happen to be traveling within the U.S., or via webcam/phone if you are still in your home country. Use the following tips as you prepare to interview for internships and training programs.
Do your homework: Get to know the company
One of the major reasons applicants experience bad interviews is due to a lack of preparation. Finding out as much as you can about the company and researching the actual internship you’re applying to is essential to preparing for an interview.
After you’re familiar with the company, it’s important to brush up on what you know about yourself. Make a list of your skills, characteristics and attributes, and use these to formulate a strategy to stand out over other applicants.
Know how to make a good first and lasting impression
On the day of the interview, be on time and be prepared! If you are interviewing via phone or webcam, test your equipment in advance so that you are sure you know how it works. Also, be sure to find a quiet, private spot so that your interview will not be interrupted and there will be no distractions. Interviewing over video or over the phone and doing it well can take more preparation than an in-person meeting.
If you happen to be on vacation in the U.S. or have an opportunity to interview in person, the following tips will help you prepare for interviewing face-to-face:
- Practice walking into a room. It’s very important to be aware of your body language at all times. You don’t want to look bored, impatient or too nervous.
- Perfect your handshake. Your handshake should be firm and confident—not too weak and not too strong.
- Make sure that you can maintain eye contact and use your interviewer’s name when greeting him/her. By doing this, you make the meeting a little bit more personable.
- SMILE and be confident. Don’t second-guess yourself going into the interview. You were asked to come in for a reason.
- Stay calm and breathe.
- Be honest.
- Listen carefully and think of answers in your head before responding. Don’t feel like you have to rush to answer the questions.
- Most importantly: Dress for the job you want. Make sure to dress and groom yourself accordingly. In most cases, the first judgment your interviewer is going to make is based on how you look and what you are wearing. Always dress professionally and appropriately.
Practice your responses
Know the questions you’ll be expected to answer. Be especially prepared to discuss the experiences and skills you listed in your resume and the specifics in your cover letter.
- Be concise. Make sure you answer what is being asked and avoid rambling. Too much information will confuse your interviewer and may make other answers to future questions redundant.
- Do extra research on questions you find to be especially difficult.
- Most importantly, answer by providing examples of things you have accomplished. Arriving prepared with stories that relate to the skills your employer is looking for can give you an advantage. Respond by saying “Yes, this is similar to when I…”
- These stories/examples should emphasize your strengths, flexibility, leadership skills, motivation to learn new things, any contributions you’ve made to organizations in the past, creativity, problem solving, etc.
Don’t arrive empty handed
Be prepared. Bring:
- A pen and small notebook to jot down notes, even if you are interviewing via webcam or phone
- An extra copy of your resume and a list of references
- If needed, your portfolio and work samples
Do not bring:
- Your cell phone. If possible don’t bring it with you to your interview or turn it off before entering the building.
- If interviewing via your computer, be sure all alerts, notifications, or any other features on your computer that make noise are disabled so as not to interrupt the flow of your interview.
- Go by yourself. Don’t ever bring a friend or family member to an interview. In particular, do not bring anyone to translate for you. It is essential that you have sufficient English language skills to operate in the U.S. workplace, and you will not be able to demonstrate you have this ability if you have someone translating your interview for you.
American employers expect and want applicants to ask about the company and the internship responsibilities. Read our guide for sample questions to ask an employer in an interview. Interviewing your employer or future colleague will help you learn more about the organization and what it’s like to work there. Although your employer is trying to see if you’re fit for the position, you should be equally curious to see if the company is a good fit for you, too.
Your interview doesn’t end once you sign off Skype or leave the building
Post-interview follow-up is just as important as going in for the interview. Within 24 hours after your interview, send a short email to thank the person(s) that conducted the interview for their time and to confirm your interest in the position. You can also add something specific that you talked about to help them remember you who are or highlight certain aspects of the position that you find especially interesting or would look forward to doing if offered the internship.