The Intern 101 Series: Pt. 2: How to Stand Out Above the Rest
Contributed by: @JFrimpong_
So you have figured out what you want to do and you have found a few schemes available? Great! Application time! Now, there's hundreds (literally) of tips and tricks for applications floating around on the Internet! Drawing from my experiences, these 3 tips are my holy grail:
Take *claps* your *claps* time! I had to go all ratchet on you all but honestly, when it comes to applications, take your time. I remember when I started getting into this whole internship thing, I would forget to apply for schemes all semester, then bam, two days before the deadline – began frantically filling out applications. Don’t be like me! Apply for schemes with enough time to spare and allocate time daily to work on your applications. HR and recruitment teams have been through enough applications to know a rushed application from one that has been filled out rather diligently.
In order to give yourself the best possible chance of securing that place – take your time! I used to allocate an hour and a half every evening to work on my applications. Then, I would split my laptop screen – on the left, the application mask and on the right, a blank Microsoft Word document. I would copy the questions into Word and bullet-point my answers in there. Having the questions in front of me, without the added pressure of time, allowed me to really take my time to answer the questions thoroughly – spell-checked! As most applications do have a time-limit, don’t forget to save your bits as you go along.
Tip 2 is intertwined with tip 1
2. Do not kill yourself!
During my second year at university, I did not know whether I wanted to pursue a career in legal private practice or elsewhere in the legal profession. As a result, I decided to apply for every single vacation scheme in the country – literally! Biggest mistake ever! Not only did I leave all my applications until the last minute, I barely submitted any of them. Why? I was simply doing way too much. If you are looking to work in an ‘opportunity-saturated’ industry, select a few companies that you are particularly interested in and work on those applications rigorously. It is much better to have 5 well-written applications than 15 sloppy applications.
With that being said, having the time to work on each application, researching and understanding the company (as per my previous tip), you stand a better chance when it comes to demonstrating your interest via your application and hopefully, interview!
3. Say something different!
Major key alert – be authentic. The key to standing out in the application process is being authentic. Many applications have a ‘tell us about yourself’ or ‘tell us about your extracurricular activities’ section where employers are looking for people that will bring more than their academics and professional experience to the table. (Shameless plug: If you are currently in university, I have written a post on my blog about making the most of your university experience; do have a read if you are struggling to find things to get involved in on campus).
Being a part of a work force is more than your job description. You are an individual and your interests and hobbies will differ from the next person. No employer wants to hire a robot – let your interests be reflected in your application. Wait, within reason of course. Don’t lie, or say something outlandishly unprofessional.
Putting this in context, I am heavily involved in charity and pro bono work, I always make that known in my applications and relate it to the company I am applying for, especially if their stance on corporate social responsibility is something I identify with.This is only possible if you do your research! (Read The Intern 101 if you have not done so already).
I seem to write share all my Adzvice mid-morning when I’ve had enough of poorly-negotiated draft contracts. I better get back to work and so should you – open up that tab and start that application! Procrastination kills.
Be sure to check out other posts within the Intern 101 Series!
Jennifer Frimpong (www.jenniferfrimpong.com)