Finding the Right Internship – A Complete Guide
The first step in the process of finding the right internship is looking at your resources; what tools do you have at your disposal to land the opportunity that could potentially kick-start your career?
Networking is powerful, but in the modern age we live in, we have become increasingly more reliant on using the internet as our main resource tool. Don’t write off networking with people face-to-face though. Exploit your resources to the best of your ability, talk to your college professors, classmates, friends, your cousin’s best friend’s dad who just happens to be the CEO of a really great company, etc.
Nonetheless, the internet is probably still our main resource tool. There are many ways that we can use the internet to do our research. The first thing that I would recommend doing, before beginning the initial search, is to create a LinkedIn account, if you do not already have one that is.
LinkedIn is an extremely powerful networking tool. This platform allows you to connect, build and grow “your” brand. Currently there are 300 million users in more than 200 countries, and the current total number of business pages stands at three million. In a recent Cision webinar that I attended, LinkedIn for PR Professionals, it was noted that an average of 45 million profiles are viewed each day on LinkedIn. Now, it is one thing having a LinkedIn account, but the next step in the process is utilizing it to the best of your ability. What does your profile say about you as an individual?
Getting Started on LinkedIn
LinkedIn for PR Professionals
It is important that you get the most out of your profile. After all, this is the online version of your resume when you think about it. Having a completed profile on LinkedIn will help you stand out from the crowd. Here are a few steps that I picked up from the webinar that will help you achieve profile completeness:
- Customize your URL (as seen in the image)
- Move sections around; if you’ve just completed a Masters in Communications, make sure this is at the top of your page
- Add articles, videos, presentations
- Join groups, preferably industry related or ones that relate to a personal interest or hobby
- Follow industry leaders and/or companies of interest
- Visit the Jobs section
Join LinkedIn Groups and Connect
I’m currently a member of the Fashion Bloggers group on LinkedIn because I write a blog on fashion and lifestyle. Being a member of a group also helps to grow connections as there is a common ground between you and the other person you are trying to connect with. These users are 2nd degree connections which you will be able to invite to connect with on this basis. When asking another user to connect with you, it is important to personalize your message to them (i.e. explain why you would like to connect with them and also mention the similarities that you both share).
Seek Out Companies of Interest
The next step in the process is to seek out companies that you have an interest in, and follow them. This is a great way to find out about the culture of the company and look at the type of content they are sharing.
Once you have an understanding of these steps, go visit the jobs section on LinkedIn. This is an excellent resource in itself as LinkedIn uses the information you have given them to make job suggestions on your behalf. You can also save jobs that you are interested in and later revisit them if you don’t have the time to fill out an application at that moment; this also allows you to review your past job applications and keep track of everything you have already applied for.
Watch your Tone
This may be common sense, but remember LinkedIn is a social media networking site for professionals. Be careful and adjust your tone; it’s not the same tone you use on Facebook. This is an excellent foundation, and when used correctly, you will have companies reaching out to you directly about opportunities and positions they are looking to fill, which is half the battle in finding the right role for yourself.
Do the Research
So at this point you should be “fluent” in LinkedIn and be able to navigate your way around the site. The next step in the process is being clear on what type of internship you want and what you would like to gain from this internship. I’m not saying to narrow down your search but to be specific with your keywords; this will save you a whole lot of time in the long run. I found my internship at Zion & Zion through persistent research. I searched online specifically for full-service advertising agencies as well as PR and marketing firms. I then looked for these companies in the media to see what was being said about them, checked out their social media pages, and their websites. I was able to apply my skills as an ex-recruitment consultant, and I made a shortlist of companies that piqued my interest (like any hiring manager would do). After reading about Zion & Zion and learning about the company culture, I knew that this was a fit for me. Zion & Zion has received many accolades for their contribution to the industry and pride themselves on a flat organizational structure—a business model that I’ve always admired.
Be Interview Ready
At the interview stage, you will more than likely be asked: why did you apply? The answer should roll off the tip of your tongue. This not only shows confidence but in all reality, you should know the reasons yourself. This is your chance at the big leagues, so it’s important that you are interview ready.
Our parents often preach to us but mostly make valid points that are worth paying attention to. From an early age, my dad has always said to me:
“Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.”
This is one piece of advice that I have taken from him, and I know it’s one that I will use continuously. If you decide to take one thing from this post, please let it be my dad’s statement.
Don’t be afraid to sell yourself; remember this is your chance to tell the company what you can bring to the table. Be honest. The worst thing to happen is to get caught lying in an interview or “expanding on the truth.” Don’t list a skill on your resume if it’s not part of your skill set. Have at least two references lined up and ready to go. Last but not least – be yourself. However, this goes without saying; yourself may like to wear sweatpants and tennis shoes on a daily basis. Under no circumstances should you ever dress like this for an interview. Use your common sense, and put your best foot (and shoe) forward.
These steps, coupled with self-belief and the ability to take knock backs should help you through your search to find the right ad agency internship. Spend the time working on your resume and LinkedIn profile before carrying out your search. Practice interview role-play with friends or family. Use your time to brush up on your Microsoft Office skills. Don’t give up, even if your first interview is a disaster, and learn from your mistakes so you don’t repeat them again. It’s a competitive market, but don’t lose faith. I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason.
Finally, go forth and intern. It just might be the most awesome decision you’ve ever made. I know it was for me!