Internships provide a concentrated experience, a networking launch-pad and a litmus test to determine whether you actually love the career you think you want. Here’s the problem: new applicants are flanked on every side by 99 seemingly identical candidates clutching their resumes in-hand and sprinting to steal your dream position.
Claim your spot as a top candidate by intentionally dodging all-too-common pitfalls. It’s your career. Make a bold move.
Mistake #1: Ignoring directions and requirements. Required documents, application deadlines and position prerequisites deserve more than a passing glance. Entering the running for an interview starts with thoroughly understanding and observing the company’s needs. Kevin Durant didn’t become a basketball star by playing by tackle football rules. Still want an MVP internship application? Play the game by following the rules.
Mistake #2: Hounding the HR contact relentlessly every day. Considerate follow-up spread over one-to-two-week intervals can keep your application top-of-mind for decision-makers. Drowning decision-makers in a flurry of continual emails and/or phone calls might bring your name to the top of the list – but not necessarily in a good way. Always respect the hiring manager’s time and don’t take personal offense when one doesn’t respond immediately.
Mistake #3: Creating a disorganized, rambling resume. Your resume should be no longer than 2 pages. Dumping every shred of experience from your life onto paper informs the application reviewer you’re too lazy to understand which criteria they value. Instead, position tightly-written experience relevant to the specific job you’re applying for up-front. Separate work history from skills and categorize them for easy scanning. Next, eliminate every redundant project and position. Finally, highlight each unique experience and skill directly relevant to the application’s job description.
Mistake #4: Not customizing the cover letter for the job. Well-written cover letters land interviews. Avoid template cover letters like the plague. Do your research on the company and use your writing skills to explain why you’re the best candidate for the job. This is also the time to showcase that you’ve done your research!
Take a Bold Step. Avoid the four painful mistakes above and your application will find room to breathe at the top of the stack. If you’re in the market for a Saxum Internship or Fellowship this spring, the deadline is Oct. 15 — so send yours soon.
This post was written by Matt Woods, Saxum intern.
Find detailed descriptions of our programs and submit an application at Saxum’s Careers page.