- First of all, if you are searching for an internship, any internship that will help you to get experience in your field of interest, try to select the one that is really the one you want and focus on it. Too often, job seekers send out a million applications and, with luck, get one positive response. In most cases it is impossible to submit a large number of applications and do a good job with it. The applications end up being average, and the chances for getting interviewed, much less hired, are poor. What is more productive is to choose just a couple of opportunities and to do your best in writing the cover letter and fine-tuning the CV. When you send a one-size-fits-all application where you just change the name of the company and maybe add a few skills, the committee can feel it.
- The next step is a good cover letter. Similar to the fashion rule that “less is more”, cover letters and CVs should be short. If you think that the committee will be impressed with your 3-page application, you are wrong. Try to compress everything into one or one and a half pages, and don’t add irrelevant information. Start with presenting yourself – who are you, what you are studying and how you and your studies connect with the job you are applying for. Formulate that as a reason for applying. Then proceed with some information about your background that relates to the job (your experience, studies, languages, the job you are coming from…) and then, in the next paragraph, try to explain why you are interested in this specific position. This is the point in the process where you have to show why you find this job so special, what you really, really like about the company, and what you believe you can learn just here and nowhere else. It has to sound like you want to work here and nowhere else in this world. After this important part, you have to add your skills and personal qualities, and highlight those that would be most compatible in your future working surroundings. Don’t mix this part with the part about your background. In the first part it is more important to say why your application makes sense (for instance: I am studying the English language and I am searching for an internship in the UK), and in the other to sell yourself (I am a very open minded person and a team-player).
- Together with your well written cover letter, you have to send a CV. Here there are two important points: how your CV looks and, of course, the content. If the committee receives your CV and it looks unprofessional and messy, the chances are high that they won’t consider your application. Take some time and play with form and colors, font, and make it look elegant and professional. In some cases, the form is already prescribed, but if not – try to make your own, unique CV. Also, make sure that you have a professional photo in your CV. Find a photographer, put a blazer on, and SMILE. Everyone likes a friendly face 🙂 After you have chosen the perfect form, pay attention to what are you writing. Avoid spelling mistakes, double-check the grammar and, especially if you are doing this in a foreign language (especially titles and dates – upper case and lower case letters, full stop after the year or not), and give all this to someone to review. While you’re writing your CV, try to be short and precise. Let the cover letter deal with anything you want to emphasize. Make certain your CV and cover letter connect, and use them to show everything you have to offer, without repeating it.
- But to do all these things right it is also important to understand what the committee is thinking and what they are looking for as they search for a candidate. Therefore, take some time to read as much as you can about your future employer. You can learn a lot from the style of their website and the call for applications, or how their newsletter is written. Try to find someone who has already done an internship there and ask for advice. But, also be careful with them as well, and read between the lines. Some people will exaggerate to show themselves as super-heroes who successfully went through a demanding process and finally got the job.
- Keep in mind that HR is not always just searching for someone who has an amazing CV, but also someone who demonstrates a great desire to get the job and therefore has spent some time to write a good application. If you can convince them that you really can learn a lot from the job and that you will be happy to complete all assignments, your chances are really high.
- And then a final word of advice: be honest and show how excited you are about the job! That’s why it is important that you find a place you want more than anything, instead of sending mediocre applications to hundreds of addresses. A committee can recognize when someone is really excited to get the job, and has not just applied “to check one more company off the list”. It is acceptable to calculate a bit and include in your cover letter something that you believe they want to hear. But don’t put too much effort into that. Speak from the heart and show them that they will get someone who will know to appreciate the opportunity if it is given, gain a lot from it, and work with serious motivation.