The Secret to Landing Your Dream Internship

April 2, 2014
The big secret to getting hired for your dream internship

I’ve looked at hundreds of resumes and spoken with dozens of applicants for Digett’s internship program, and have learned a lot about the interview process from an employer’s perspective. Ready to hear the single biggest secret to landing your dream internship?

Make it impossible for me to cut you

During big recruiting pushes I see 50 or so resumes a week; it’s my job to separate the wheat from the chaff and make sure I’m not wasting my time — or Mark’s — on applicants who are unqualified.

I’m looking for almost any reason to disqualify applicants so that I’m able to schedule fewer phone calls and in-person interviews. 

Since our interns are college students with little to no relevant job experience, I have to rely on more granular screening methods.

The owners of bad resumes and non-responders are first on the chopping block. Alternatively, a nicely-formatted resume and solid communication skills make it harder for me to bump someone from the list without speaking to him or her first.

So, how should you go about impressing me (or any other recruiter)?

Create a sparkling resume

Whether or not you have relevant job experience is less important in an internship setting (at least for Digett’s program).

What’s more important is your ability to write a resume that doesn’t make you look like a complete juvenile.

Drop the emoticons

“Smiley” and “winky” faces may be appropriate in texts and informal conversation, but they do not belong on a resume.

I’ve only seen this on a couple resumes, but even that makes me worried. Keep your statements fact-based and professional.

Microsoft Word is not a qualification

The days when the ability to type, save, and print a Word document was a special skill have been over for at least a decade.

Take it off your resume right now and replace it with a skill specifically related to your field of interest — Photoshop, FinalCut Pro, QuickBooks, etc.

Triple-check your work

Earlier this year I was handed a resume by an International Business major working toward his MBA, and within 10 seconds had found four typos — he misspelled both his major and the name of his university.

Pay attention when your computer’s typing program indicates that a word is misspelled. Print out your resume and go through it manually word by word, and have a friend look it over, too.

There is zero excuse for typos on your resume. If they pop up on your resume — the document which represents you to any company to which you apply — I hold little hope for your ability to communicate professionally and provide excellent work for our clients.

Beef up your online presence

This is a more complex challenge for those interested in entering the marketing or social media fields, but at minimum everyone should have a LinkedIn profile that includes everything on their resume, plus a little bit more.

Most of the LinkedIn profiles I see are sparse, and they all look the same. So when I come across one that looks great and provides me lots of information on the candidate’s experience and skills, there’s no way I can pass it up.

This is a total #humblebrag, but I’m quite proud of my LinkedIn profile. It’s not the fanciest, but it’s got all the info from my resume, plus a decent photo, my skills and certifications, a handful of my publications, links to the Digett and my personal blog, etc.

Learn on your own time

The best people in any industry are the ones who consistently take advantage of ways to learn more about their craft.

Classes offer fantastic learning opportunities, but you won’t be in school forever; your industry, no matter how well-established, will change over time.

  • Read books and blogs related to your chosen field
  • Find a description of your ideal job, see what skills are required, and get to work learning them
  • Surf the web for free tutorials and webinars, take extra classes, etc.
  • Find a mentor in your industry from whom you can learn

When school isn’t giving you the education you need to find an internship or job in your ideal field, you need to be willing to go the extra mile on your own.

If you’re not willing to do this — if you’re not passionate about doing your best — perhaps it’s time to consider a different vocation.

Forget everything you’ve heard about intern/job hunting

Instead, take a lesson from this awesome LinkedIn presentation. Get your resume in shape, kick your social media presence into a higher gear, put effort into learning more skills, and go forth and intern!

[Image: Liz Welsh