We all know how difficult it is to get an internship. Most times, you need job experience before even getting your first job and this standard has only increased. To add on, COVID-19 has made internship hunting harder: no coffee chats, in-person recruiting events, and many companies can’t even afford to hire. However, COVID has also allowed us to work from anywhere. After going through the recruiting process myself, I’ve gained some experience that I feel can help you maximize your time and get an internship when you feel like it’s impossible. Keep reading to find out!
For reference (and ethos), I had a consulting and small banking internship two years ago and had the opportunity to attend some small conferences. Currently, I’m interning at an investment banking firm. I received neither of these opportunities through traditional resume dropping or online applications. With all this being said, I hope the advice I give in the rest of this blog holds some merit.
Build a Network
The single most important thing you can do to help you stand out from other candidates in lieu of in-person career fairs is building your network. Since you won’t be able to talk to recruiters in person and Zoom fatigue gets even the best of us, you have to take things into your own hands to, basically, create a career fair of your own.
Firstly, NETWORK. NETWORK. NETWORK. And did I mention network? Utilize your connections and if you don’t have connections… find some! Simply searching “[school name] [company] LinkedIn” into google will give you at least 10 connections to reach out to. However, don’t just rely on LinkedIn (most professionals won’t check it often). Instead, try to find the email format of companies. The most common ones are email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org which can usually be found in SEC filings. Next, draft up an interesting, but short, introduction email asking for a short phone or Zoom call. This builds a more personal connection and they now know what you sound like!
Make an Impression
Now, what do you say on the actual phone call? After briefly introducing yourself, give a quick elevator pitch (no more than 1-2 mins) as to why you’re interested in the field and why you want to talk to this person specifically. After that, try to let the conversation flow naturally and ask good questions. Besides the obvious, sometimes even “what’s your day-to-day like” or “why do you want to work at [company]” are a little generic. Instead, ask about specific projects that are happening within the company. Did your contact just publish something? Ask questions that prove you’re genuinely interested.
Ask for Referrals
Lastly (and this is the most important part), ask “is there anyone else at your company that you think I could benefit from talking to?” This way, your network doesn’t stop here, and you can use this person as a referral for the next. It’s like making your way up to the boss level in a video game. If they say yes, great, reach out to the person they recommend or wait to be referred. If they say no, then no worries, on to the next; there are 10,001 more people to reach out to.
Now, you have a whole long list of people to refer to in your interview; people to vouch for you and flag your resume for interviews and mentors to help guide you through the rest of the recruiting process. COVID-19 era job hunting is going to be difficult but keep pushing and something will come from your efforts!
Pearson Students: How did you land your first internship? Share in the comments below!