I want to share with you the lessons I learned in the past semester about the internship process.
Over the course of the past five months I was actively researching media agencies, advertising/public relations firms and companies. I applied for nearly 100 internships and job positiions, and after some interesting experiences with the internship process beautiful serendipity came my way yesterday. I got a call that I had gotten the Winter 2015 internship position with Starcom MediaVest Group, the world’s third largest communications group and leading media agency in the world. With the hopes of attaining employement after I’ve completed my internship, right now I am just exulting in having achieved this.
It’s hard being an applicant, not only for an internship but also a job. There is a part of me that wants to call out certain people and certain organizations that gave false representations and behaved pretty badly. What would it say about me to call out people and organizations though?
What I can say is you have to compartmentalize yourself from the process. None of what you encounter is personal. In a perfect world everyone would be able to find their place and there wouldn’t be so many unneccesssary complications and barriers to securing an internship or job.
We are all so much in survival mode these days, looking out for ourselves because experience has shown us more negative than positive human behavior. I lost heart a few times during the process, feeling worthless, but I still had passion inside me. My husband, my parents-in-law, my parents, these five people always give me the truth. Every time I forgot myself, they would remind me.
I think there are three important pieces for internship/job seekers
The first most important piece is how you conduct yourself and present yourself on paper, on the phone, online, and in person. Online applications are how the majority of organizations hire, but we all get lost in the sea of applicants. Some of the smaller organizations I applied to had a more direct system where you emailed your resumé, coverletter, and the application to their hiring person. Still, how do you get to the interview step? There is no one answer.
Part of what get’s you noticed is luck, timing, and definitely perserverance. However conduct and presentation are the backbone you need to have in order to get noticed and get to the next steps in the process. I would also suggest trying to call the offices of the places to which you’re are applying. Why not stop by and ask reception if you can make an appointment to talk to someone about the company and give them your resumé? You want to stand out, you want to get attention so that you can get a shot at the internship. There are countless opportunities to visit the companies that interest you. I learned about the Publicity Club of Chicago through my school and they help students find opportunities to get exposure to the companies who are looking for interns and future employees. I attended a free Breakfast at a company in downtown Chicago, it was informative and gave me practice for interviewing.
Networking is the second most important piece of the internship process. A very nice young woman from a well respected company in downtown Chicago spoke to my Wednesday class this past semester and said that the way she got her internship positioins in her undergrad yearrs was usually through knowing someone who could pass her resumé up to HR. Although not all of us have connections inside a company that we want to intern or work for, that does not mean those who are networking are criminals. Those who are networking are trying to do the same thing we are, and truly good networking involves more than just knowing a friend. Networking is about putting in extra effort in order to get attention and stand out.
The third most important piece of the internship process is perserverance. You’ve got to let the negative roll off your back. Be proactive, ask for suggestions on what you can improve on so that you can be a better candidate int he future. Don’t cling to the idea that you’re never going to get an internship or secure a job. A part of perserverance is being realistic, not getting stuck in a black hole mentality of thinking. Look at yourself as if you are stranger who is regarding you. Is your attitude: “There’s a fascinating woman! I want to be like her one day!” or is it more “What a loser. She’s never going to make it” ? How we see ourselves and how we see others greatly influences our ability to recover from set backs and perservere. It also tells us about our outlook on life and that has a huge impact on how we conduct ourselves and present ourselves to others. The worst thing we can be is our own worst enemy, holding ourselves back from great opportunities.
Don’t think that it’s over, something will come along as you pursue your search. Being positive will help you not only perservere but also to be your best advocate. You’ll find you can see the best parts of yourself more clearly. Try to be objective when you’re feeling vulnerable after a rejection. Support from family and friends is important because they usually have our best interest at heart. Our family and friends are the ones who can help us when we can’t see the bright side or can’t pull ourselves out of the hole we dig ourselves.
I am overjoyed about what’s to come in 2015 but I am also greatful for the good and the bad I went through to reach this point.
You’ll find as you go through the process of trying to secure an internship or job, that you find your voice along the way and life doesn’t seem as uncertain or dire as you thought.