The winter season makes us all want to curl up on the couch and binge on Netflix. Despite the cold air outside, summer will be here before you know it. And I’m sure for many college juniors and seniors, the thought of trying to get a marketing internship is daunting … and the last thing you’re thinking about doing as you’re up to your ears in school work and your social life.
But I’d argue that winter is absolutely the time to put in some extra work and – if you haven’t already – start the sometimes-scary and always competitive internship application process.
Before you start tweeting how much you loathe the process (yes, we’ve seen it happen), take the following tips to heart. It could save your resume from entering the rejection pile … and possibly land you the internship of your dreams.
Here, we’ve compiled our top tips we’ve come to appreciate after rifling through hundreds of cover letters and resumes of new grads and undergrads hoping to get a marketing internship.
Tip 1: Personalize your cover letter for the position.
Hiring managers understand that finding marketing internships isn’t easy, so they know that their company is not the only one you’ve applied to. However, this does not give you an excuse to get lazy with your submission. And the best marketing internships are insanely competitive, so don’t cut corners on this piece.
Your application will be on the fast route to the trashcan if you don’t take the time to customize your cover letter and resume for the position you’re applying for. All of your hard work to date – prior internship experience, your stellar GPA, the fact that you balance a college sport and serve as the editor to your school’s newspaper – won’t even get a glance if you don’t make the effort to personalize your cover letter.
Best advice: save all your applications as separate files on your computer and label them for each company and position you apply to. This should help keep you organized, saving you from a serious application faux pas: sending an Altitude Marketing application to say, Edelman PR.
Tip 2: Submit a resume with relevant work experience.
Contrary to popular belief, bigger is not always better, especially when it comes to writing a resume. Although a four-page resume might look like you have a lot of experience, a truly qualified candidate should be able to highlight his or her qualifications in two pages or less. And ideally one page, especially for students and new grads.
You might believe some of your previous positions show different qualities that would make you a great worker, but chances are, if none of the work is recent or relevant to the position you’re applying for, it can be removed.
According to a study done by The Ladders, a job-matching service that uses a heat map to record the amount of time recruiters look at resumes, hiring managers only spend six seconds reviewing an application. Six. Seconds.
In other words, if you want to get a marketing internship, you want put your most important and relevant work experiences on the first page of your resume.
So, although dog-sitting in sixth grade taught you responsibility and illustrates your trustworthiness, it probably won’t catch the hiring manager’s attention.
What you should include, however, is volunteer experience and participation in clubs, groups and teams. Just make sure these are listed in the appropriate section of your resume.
Tip 3: Sell yourself on your qualifications.
Employers want to know what qualifications you might bring to the team.
Being a college student or recent grad, it’s normal to have very little real-world experience, but this doesn’t mean you have no skillset. Take the time to highlight both inside and outside classroom activities that might make you a good fit for the position you’re applying to.
Managed a team of writers for the school paper? Served as a member of your student government association? Talk about some leadership skills you’ve gained and lessons you’ve learned in those roles.
However, be careful about the word “expertise” and how you’re using it. Experience with something does not equate into expertise. For example, just because you use Instagram does not make you a social media expert.
Tip 4: Thoroughly review your application.
Spelling and grammar errors land potentially good applications in the “no” pile without a second glance. Don’t want to run spellcheck? You won’t get a marketing internship (paid or unpaid).
The first place to start is using spell check—even if you think you don’t need it. Once everything comes back clean, read your cover letter out loud. Does it make sense?
Next, ask someone else to review it. Whether it’s a professor, parent or friend, a fresh set of eyes can go a long way. Getting an outside opinion can help point out flaws that you may have overlooked the 10 times you read through it.
Tip 5: Clean up your social media accounts.
You’ve heard it once and you’ll hear it again (and again and again): what you post on social media is open to the public. And. It. Never. Goes. Away.
A study done by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 84% of employers recruit via social media, and 43% of employers screen job candidates through social networks and search engines. Of these employers that screen candidates through social network and search engines, 36% of companies actually turn away applications just based on their social media accounts.
And these numbers are only growing.
Not sure what constitutes something as “inappropriate”? Here are some tips on how to save your online reputation from Northeastern University.
Follow these tips and you’ll be on the right track to get a marketing internship that will get you on a strong professional path … and will make your friends jealous of your super cool summer job.