By Elizabeth Elizalde
I intern at the CBS News program 48 Hours. Last semester, I interned at NY1 and CNN. Other students always ask how I balance my internships, school and my social life. It may sound corny, but my key to success is organization, persistence, strategy and patience.
The point of an internship is to get your feet wet in the industry you plan to pursue. Some internships even pay a small salary or stipend and can lead to a full-time job after graduation. Others provide college credit. You may pay for the credit, but it’s worth it if you choose the right company.
I’m a journalism student in my last semester of college and all during school I have interned at companies in print and broadcast. The internships taught me how to conduct myself in a professional setting and helped me figure out what I really want to do.
When I graduate, I want to get a job as a broadcast or print reporter. I’m passionate about the news and want to report about issues that concern my community and stories that impact our society. And that’s why these news internships matter so much.
You may have different goals. But we all play the important internship game the same way.
Here’s how to score your dream internship or entry-level job.
Finding the right internship often seems overwhelming, but you need to dedicate time to search and learn about the company before you apply.
1. Research, Research, Research!
Research the company. Employers want candidates who understand their brand and product. Human resource representatives told me they think a good intern candidate is one who researches and knows about the company.
Broadcast companies expect candidates to know about their history, programming and on-air personalities.
Financial companies like JP Morgan Chase might question you about their banking services, accountability and stocks on Wall Street.
I guarantee employers will ask you what you know about them.
2. Social Media
Social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook help. They let employers know about you and that you connect with social media in a serious and useful way. You might also see which companies want interns.
3. Job Postings
Websites like Indeed, Monster and Glassdoor.com filter job options. Follow or subscribe to job listings on the Web to get their alerts.
4. Resume and Cover Letter
Resumes and cover letters count. Employers who read your letter and resume will get a feel for what you offer on a professional and personal level. Make sure to proofread your application before you submit it.
One-page resumes are best. Keep it short and use bullet points to highlight accomplishments. Put skills and work experience at the top and then your educational background and volunteer work. Make the information current and relevant to the position. You might have to revise your resume for each application.
Think of writing a cover letter as an art form. You want to clearly and concisely explain why you qualify for the position.
a. Explain how you heard about it.
b. Highlight skills, strengths and reasons why employers should pick you.
c. Conclude with contact information and explain your availability. If you have class five days a week, it’s hard to intern during the week. But an employer may want you on the weekend.
5. Inside Tip
Internship coordinators told me that volunteer work and extracurricular activities on campus make students stand out and put them ahead of the bunch.
Use your social skills and get out there and mix it up. Attend job fairs to mingle with professionals and recruiters in the industry. Join associations that pertain to your field. I am a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and that helped me expand my network.
I met a lot of wonderful professional people who offered helpful career advice.
When you go to a meeting or a forum, remember to ask for business cards from the people you meet so you can contact them.
As cliché as it sounds, it is all about connections. Be nice and make a good impression. You never know when you may need a reference for a position.
7. Practice your interview skills
The interview is a crucial part of the process. Employers interview you one-on-one. Sometimes they’ll screen you with a phone interview. Ask questions to show your interest and before you know it, the interviews turn into a conversation.
a. Ask a friend to conduct a mock interview or practice in front of the mirror.
b. Employers typically ask: “Tell us about yourself,” “Why do you want to work for us?” and “What makes you different from other candidates?”
Let them know you are a team player. Working at a company is all about teamwork, which is a quality employers look for in their candidates.
8. Show Your Passion for the Job.
Employers figure out right away if you’re passionate about your career goals. Someone I know interviewed for a job at a major network and told the interviewer he never watched the network. He didn’t get the job.
Show them you are motivated and enthusiastic about their company. Be confident and most importantly, be yourself.
Good luck and happy job-hunting!
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