It is a very different world from 30 years ago. Back then you would graduate from high school, go to college, maybe have a part time job in a restaurant or clothing store at the mall and then graduate, go on some job interviews and start your life as an employed adult. In 2014, many college graduates move back in with their parents and have to “borrow” money from them for their car payments, cell phone bills and their gas, not to mention if they want to do anything fun. It is almost unheard of for a college student in this day and age to not have at least one internship (if you don’t believe me check out the movie "The Internship"). We have to admit there is some serious competition out there for these coveted and very necessary internship positions. How do you get noticed? How do you stand above the crowd of your peers who are all in the same boat as you? My advice is to use your strengths. You are already spending hours every week on social media, why not use it to find that internship?! I am probably preaching to the choir and you are thinking, “I have heard this all before. Why don’t you tell me how, Lady?” If my opinion counts for anything I say your number one tool to finding that internship should be LinkedIn. Here are a few quick tips how:
The default on your LinkedIn profile headline will be your most recent job. Do you really want the first thing for your future employer to see, after your picture and your name, to be “Bartender at The Thirsty Pig” or “Student at XYZ State University?” It’s simple. What do you want? You want an internship, so advertise it! Your headline should say, “NCAA Athlete Seeking an Internship” or “Hardworking College Junior Seeking an Internship” or “Actively Searching for an Internship.” You will stand out right away.
This is not the time to be picky about who your friends are! Maybe that annoying professor’s next door neighbor is the hiring exec at your dream company. Maybe that girl that stares at you the entire English Lit class has an uncle who is the CEO of your next company. The best thing about LinkedIn is that it makes invisible connections visible. If you aren’t connected to your suitemate, your teammates or even your old pediatrician how will you know who they know? How will even know to ask them for that introduction?
What do you want to be when you grow up? Don’t know? No worries! Get on LinkedIn and search the job postings. You can be as detailed or open in your search criteria as you would like. You could just put in your zip code and browse away. What sounds interesting? That’s the great thing about an internship, it is not “til death do you part!” Go to the websites of the companies that look interesting, look and see if you are connected to anyone that works there. (This is where all those connections come in handy). You will be amazed at how many cool jobs are out there. I find a new “wannabe” career every week!
Find a place that looks interesting? Better yet, did you find your dream internship? Find out EVERYTHING about it, the company, the employees, the hiring committee, everything. Look at who posted the job, find out where they went to school, find out what groups they belong to. Join those groups too. Also, most company websites list their recruiters. (if they don’t, it wouldn’t hurt to call and ask) Find them all on LinkedIn and send them personalized connection requests. All you need to say is that their company looks really interesting and you are looking forward to learning more about it. Trust me, it will make their day to get a message like that. If you have any Groups in common, even better. Now you are already on their radar and you haven’t even applied yet!
If you are anything like me, the worst part of my birthday is writing the thank you notes. I know it sounds terrible, but sometimes I would rather just not get anything than have that huge task staring me in the face. (Not really, I love presents, but you understand). The worst was my mom asking me every day, “Did you get those thank you’s done yet?” and me once again seeing the disappointment in her face when I answered in the negative. Well, it’s never too late to learn a good lesson. I can count on my hands how many times I have gotten an e-mail, InMail, or LinkedIn message from someone after they have applied for a position. I can tell you every single time I do, I go back and look that person up and read (not just glance at) their resume or LinkedIn profile and more often than not if I am on the fence about them I give them the benefit of the doubt and move them forward in the recruiting process. It doesn’t have to be an imposing task. A simple “I just applied for your XYZ internship. Thank you for taking the time to read my resume, I am really excited to learn more about ABC company.” is all that is needed.
Now, go login to your LinkedIn account and get started! Please, let me know how it goes. I love seeing how just a few simple, easy changes in job seeker behavior can make all the difference in the world. Oh, and please please please if you listen to nothing else I have written I beg you, do not use a picture for your profile where you are holding a cocktail, wearing a swimsuit or even cut an ex out of the picture. I KNOW you know someone who thinks they are the next Andy Warhol, get them to snap a quick pic or two of you in front of a tree or a building or something (not a red convertible!) it will be better than the dozens of “pic in a bar with red eye” resumes I get every week!
Happy Internship Shopping!
Written by Christina Church
Christina Church is a Financial Recruiter and Social Media Marketing Trainer with 15+ years of experience working with recent college graduates as well as senior advisors in the financial industry. She graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in Communication and received her Internet Marketing Certificate from The University of San Francisco.
Christina advises Financial Advisors and recent college grads on how to use social networks to build relationships and deliver value. She spends her time speaking, blogging, writing articles and training.
She has been known to spend her free time writing about herself in the 3rd person and lives in Phoenix, AZ with her husband, 2 daughters and a dog and a cat that could be for sale on any given day. She can be contacted by email at Christina.Church@NorthStarFinancial.com or by connecting with her on Linked In at www.linkedin.com/in/ChristinaChurch.