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Quick tips for a summer internship

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The internship application season is upon us! Most companies already have internship postings on their websites, and some internship deadlines are approaching. This article aims to give you a starting point and some advice to begin looking for your summer adventure.

  1. Find an internship to apply to

The first step, obviously, is to find an internship to apply to. If you have a specific company in mind, look on their websites for their Careers page, which should lead you to some openings for students. Otherwise, the Denison Handshake portal is a good place to start – there are several postings already up that should cover all majors in Denison. Kaleidoscope also has blog posts on potential internships that are geared towards the multicultural and international community. Once you’ve exhausted all these postings, it may be good to continue your job search on other job portals such as Indeed.com or Monster.com to look for internships. One good feature that Indeed has is that you can set alerts for your searches, and they will send you emails whenever there are new postings that fit your criteria.

LinkedIn also has a jobs section that matches you with jobs and internships nearby that fit your qualifications. However, I personally find that LinkedIn suggests more jobs than internships, so the aforementioned portals are my preferred choice.

One thing I would like to note is that there’s a much higher likelihood that you will get contacted for interviews if you apply through the Denison Handshake portal versus applying through regular job portals like Indeed or Linkedin. This is because usually (or in my cases only), internships posted on Handshake are job opportunities that alumni bring back to Denison. This means they are more personally involved in the recruitment process and they really want to bring more Denison students to their teams, so the odds are higher. With that said, I’d recommend sending out quality applications to as many companies as you can, to increase the chance of being contacted for an interview.

  1. Application process:

The general process to apply for an internship is to send in your resume, cover letter, etc., then phone interview and in-person interview.

Resume and Cover letter: The latter is usually optional, but it shows that you are serious about the job and you are putting in the extra effort to market yourself. There are handouts in Knowlton Center for Careers Development in Burton Morgan that will guide you through the resume and cover letter writing process. Knowlton also offers walk-in appointments for your to go in and review your personal documents. One key important thing that I would just like to note is that both resume and cover letter should be restricted to 1 page, and they should tailor to your potential employer. A good practice is to look up information on the company and what progress they have recently made to include in your cover letter.

Phone interview: Treat this like a regular interview. Potential employers will often contact you if they are interested and request a phone screening. Please make sure that you do your phone call in a quiet place, and you have paper/ laptop to note down what they are saying. Most phone interviews I’ve been through are relatively relaxed – your potential employers want to go through your resumes, ask you behavioral interview questions (you can see more of that here) in order to gauge if you are a good fit. Some interviewers also ask technical questions, so be sure to brush up on your knowledge and recent industry news. However, all in all, you can get through phone interview relatively well if you know your resume inside out and have some answers to behavioral questions on teamwork and time management.  

In-person Interview: This is it! The final hurdle to your dream internship. In-person interviews really vary from employer to employer, so it’s hard to write a guide that applies to all. However, in general, before the interview, you should re-read your resume to make sure you can answer any questions regarding what’s written there. Prepare responses to typical questions like why do you think you’ll be a good fit for the job, what are your teamwork experiences, what challenges did you face and how you solved them, so on and so forth (The list of common interview questions can be found here). In addition, read up on the industry to know what’s happening and brush up on your technical skills. For example, if you know Excel, list the functions you can use. Or if you have good marketing skills, be sure to detail what you can do and what projects you have accomplished which demonstrate those skills. On the actual day, dress in business attire (you can find details in pamphlets available in the Knowlton Center for Career Exploration), and arrive at least 20 minutes beforehand. It is imperative that you are on time for your interviews, so you’d rather be early than sorry. It’s also advisable to bring a file with your resume and a notepad to note down relevant information the interviewers said, and to appear professional. After your interview, based on your interview notes, you should send a personal thank-you email to your interviewer to say what you’ve gotten from your interview, reiterate your interests, and why you would be a good fit for the position.

For some employers, especially banks and financial firms, they hold “superdays” when there are 5-6 interviews per day for them to get through all of their candidates. Typically, you will have to travel to the company to attend your superday. Other employers may require you to additionally work in a team project during interviews so they can gauge your capabilities and aptitude for teamwork.

And finally, some quick tips:

  • If you are looking at a company’s career portal and they have the Summer Analyst and Summer Associate options, Summer Analyst is the one for you. Associate positions are usually for people with a Masters’ degree.
  • Smile during the interview (even phone interviews). This will make you feel more confident and approachable.
  • Look at the interviewer’s nose if you are too intimidated to look into their eyes. This gives the impression that you are making eye contact.
  • Look up the interviewer on LinkedIn to learn their background. If you can strike up a good conversation with them, it’s only more likely to boost your chance!

For international students, since some companies do not sponsor work visas, your chance of scoring an internship there will be significantly lower. Go to http://www.myvisajobs.com/ and look for the employers to see their track records. This will help you prioritize better.

Chau Nguyen

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