Some Advice For Would-Be Interns

It seems strange that I should be writing a post like this, since it was only a few months ago that I was an intern myself, desperately trying to show companies that I would be the employee that they couldn’t do without.  But life is strange, and I never say never to anything, because who knows what the future will bring?  (Well, I’m never bleaching my hair- I know for a fact that I will look horrendous if I do so.  It is known. [Shout out to Game of Thrones, Season 2 starting on April 1!!])

My work has been in need of some interns lately, so I’ve been posting the ads and screening the applicants and inviting them to come in an interview.  I haven’t had to conduct the interviews yet, but I usually sit in and listen, so I’ve been pretty involved in every step of the hiring process.  What I’ve seen and heard has appalled me.  I know college students aren’t expected to have a complete knowledge of the working world, but what are their career centers teaching them?  Do students even utilize those resources?  For anyone thinking of interning anywhere anytime soon, do yourself a favor and go to your school’s career center.  I know that my school’s center gave me tons of invaluable advice from everything from the format of my resume to interviewing tips.  If you don’t have that option, even Googling “How to interview” or “How to write a cover letter” will bring up loads of fairly solid examples- you have no excuse to be unprepared!

For people looking into internships, here are some no-nos I encountered while reading applications and sitting in on interviews.  Never EVER do these things:

  • Fail to follow applications instructions: Even though the ad asked for a resume, cover letter, and 1-2 writing samples, an applicant sent in a blank email with only a resume attached.  I kid you not.  A) Sending a blank email is rude-not even a Hello?  Really? and B) if you can’t even follow my simple instructions, how can I believe you’ll follow instructions at work?  You can bet that I immediately dumped the application in the “NO” pile before I even saw their resume.
  • Misspell the company’s name: An applicant sent email with our company name misspelled.  Yeah…you need to know the name of the place you’re applying to.  I know that sending out tons of cover letters can get confusing at times, especially if you’re nervous or stressed, but please PLEASE have someone else look it over.  Nobody likes their name misspelled- same goes for companies.
  • Bitch out your old boss: The first thing one applicant talked about when asked about their previous position was their awful old boss and complained about their lack of motivation and overall shady-ness.  Even if you had a crap boss, you NEVER bitch about previous employers.  You never know who knows who, and it looks really unprofessional.  The applicant was promising, but their attitude left a really bad taste in everyone’s mouth.
  • Go MIA after an interview: Hardly anyone sent in a thank you note.  I always thought that it was a standard practice to send a thank you note to whoever interviewed you, but apparently it’s falling out of favor.  Oh no.  A simple thank you can go a LONG way in helping an employer remember you when you mention a tidbit from your conversation.  It helps you stand out from all the other applicants; plus, it’s just courteous and everyone likes courtesy, right?  (Though chivalry is sadly becoming an endangered practice, but that’s for another post on another day.)

I’m fairly confident that all employers and hiring managers will agree with me on these four simple points.  As interns, we know that a lot of you are new to the working scene and are looking for a place to learn and grow- which is great!  But you need to prove to us first that you’re capable of handling the responsibilities that will be expected of you.  And that starts with spelling the company name correctly in your emails.


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