Before I head into the HOW, I do want to emphasize the circumstances that I was lucky enough to obtain alongside hard work. I am a first generation Asian American and the first in my family to attend college and the first female to do so. As much as this was a lot of pressure, it was also what people in business settings like to hear and see. It’s attractive to be the first to do something great. It’s even greater knowing that I was raised in a generation where technology is what I grew up with. I developed certain skills at a younger age…so in that sense, I was lucky.
However, I worked really hard in high school taking upon leadership positions and lots of AP classes. I pushed myself over the top with a lot of things at once and managed to land my first internship during my junior year of high school at an ad agency. That propelled me further into the industry and gave me a head start. Going to FIT, all the other internships kind of just fell into place as I utilized the tools that I have developed in high school which I will share with you today.
These five internships are including the two that I was able to get during the summer as well. I had 2 during my first semester and 1 during my second semester. Then 2 during the summer. Two of them are more freelance based depending on the work that needed to be done.
There are struggles in getting the first internship but there are also struggles in trying to keep on getting internships. Therefore, I’m going to give 4 tips on both of them.
4 TIPS FOR GETTING INTERNSHIPS
1. Create a portfolio/presence.
This one is important because like anything you’ll have to do in life, you have to make a stand for yourself. You have to learn how to market yourself to people and be able to tell industry professionals your story. A portfolio is like a good way to demonstrate your skills and talents in any aspect whether it’s engineering or designing. However, if you don’t have any hard skills like those, learn to make a presence instead. You can work on soft skills that make you stand out like public speaking, punctuality, and being able to sell. Having that is appealing to these companies who are looking for someone to add to their team, not bring the down.
Once you’ve gotten 2-3 internships, it’s good to make sure you update your portfolio and to keep your resume/cover letters in check before you find another. Your portfolio, resume, and presence tells your story. Not the full story but it should be an accurate representation of your career. This will help you look more appealing to other internships.
2. Search for paid part time internships and research about them.
Before anything, you have to find internships you personally would love to do and learn from. I suggest that you find one that is willing to pay you because those are typically the most rewarding. They pay you so they make sure you’re put to good work. You learn a lot more and you get a more in-depth experience with the crew. It also demonstrates that they are a company that knows the value in paying their employees and to make sure they are taken care of.
Then make sure you research about them before you make the decision to apply and possibly get an interview with them. A lot of companies love to know you did you research before the interview. It demonstrates preparedness and taking initiative.
3. Use LinkedIn to network or network in general
When I started out, my LinkedIn did not have anything but you start to get the hang of it like every other social media. You tell your stories through images and words and updates. This is a great way to connect with industry professionals you would never expect to connect with. If you met them at a panel, it’s also great to connect with them as well.
Attend panels or events that have empowering people you strive to emulate. They will notice your presence and maybe even offer you an internship or any other opportunity. Networking doesn’t even have to be in a professional setting. It can even be your professors who have experience or someone sitting next to you on the subway station. It could even be your friend who knows a famous photographer. Networking is simply making friends and connections. It will come naturally.
After your first internship, try and keep in touch with those people you’ve worked with. Connect with them on LinkedIn and then try to also maintain that relationship. Meet up with them over coffee and maybe see if they have any opportunities open again or if they have friends who do.
4. Get references and recommendation letters.
Have a reference letter that can be sent out if you need them to. That can be anyone from you professors, teachers, and mentors.
After your first internship, if you have made one close connection, ask them if they are willing to write you a recommendation letter or even be a reference on your reference letter. It makes you stand out so much more knowing that you have someone to vouch for you.
They can also vouch for you on LinkedIn under the part of recommendations. Ask them nicely or even go and get coffee with them.
I hope this helped you get through your difficulties in getting internships or continue getting them. I have another article that you can read that’s also about internships here.