This post was written by Raquel Richards (@RaquelMRichards), a PR 20/20 intern studying PR at Ohio University.
The fight for top talent is more competitive than ever before. In our field, employers are looking for candidates with hybrid experience, inherent motivation and leadership potential. One of the best ways to get your foot in the door is to complete an internship.
Did you immediately picture coffee runs and itineraries? Me too. But, the right internship (and the right people) will prepare you for what lies ahead: the so-called “real world.”
We often think that having a dream job is out of the question. Luckily, there are steps you can take to increase your chances of landing the internship of your dreams, and eventually, a job you love.
Take it from me. When applying for the intern position at PR 20/20, I was shaking in my boots. I had never worked for an agency, but I did my homework and earned the position of a lifetime.
Read on for six actionable steps to landing your dream marketing internship.
1. Find Out What Areas of Marketing Interest You
Before you search “marketing internships” on Google, consider what attracted you to the field in the first place. What would you enjoy doing and producing on a day-to-day basis? Thanks to digital, marketing comes in many shapes and sizes, from advertising, social media, public relations, traditional marketing, to inbound marketing.
Once you know what type of marketing you want to focus on, you’re ready to officially kick off your search. When I was looking for internships, I knew I wanted agency experience. PR 20/20 offered the perfect blend of inbound marketing and PR.
2. Own Your Personal Brand
Have you ever Googled your own name? If you have a name like John Smith, you probably won’t find anything that relates to you. But, if your name is Paul Roetzer (@PaulRoetzer), you might see pages and pages of search results.
It’s important to market yourself strategically and thoughtfully. First, ensure your brand is unified across all social channels, your resume and your portfolio. Be consistent with profile pictures, types of articles you share, and focus areas.
3. Write a Bomb Cover Letter
A cover letter is the first conversation you have with a company. This is your chance to give a non-interrupted elevator pitch about yourself and your skills. When starting to write, below are a few cover letter hacks to consider.
- Don’t repeat your resume. Cover letters go with resumes like peanut butter and jelly. But, you don’t want to include identical information.
- Cater to your job description. Use words found in the job description and apply them to your past experiences. Speak the company’s language to show you understand their culture.
- Be personal. Tell a story. This is a chance to expose your background and bring your experiences to life.
- Be short. Don’t go over one page.
- Be results driven. Companies care about results. Instead of describing your passion for writing, showcase a blog post you wrote and the feedback it received.
If you’re looking for a good starting point, consider looking at these cover letter examples.
4. Prepare for the Interview
Once you’ve secured an interview, start preparing for the best outcome. Do a bit of background research on the company, and your interviewer. Find out what they like, some of the work they’ve done, and how you might relate to them on a personal level.
Consider reaching out to the CEO. It doesn’t hurt to show your enthusiasm and appreciation. Ask questions about what the internship would entail, or how you should prepare for the interview.
Before the big day, prepare pointed questions. Make sure they are thoughtful and not easily found on their website. Think: personal experiences, more in-depth descriptions and day-to-day responsibilities.
Pro tip: Some employers—particularly in digital marketing—track candidates’ activity via website analytics, and may be evaluating you based on how thoroughly you familiarize yourself with their website in advance.
5. Master the Interview
This is it. This is your time to shine.
Arrive to your interview 10-15 minutes early. Dress business professional. (Guys, this means a suit and ladies, this means a dress or pant suit.) Unless, of course, directed otherwise. Bring a padfolio stocked with extra resumes and writing samples.
And, a few things to remember:
- Give a firm handshake.
- Be you—not a robot.
- Take notes.
- Be ready to ask questions.
Don't be afraid to show enthusiasm for the position. Before you say goodbye, request a timeline for appropriate follow up and a potential start date.
6. Follow Up
Your interview may be over, but the process of getting hired isn’t. It’s so important to follow up after an interview. Below are a few tips for post-interview etiquette.
- Send an email. Sooner is better than later. Send a quick, concise “thank you” email the day after the interview.
- Mail a handwritten note. In our technology-driven world, handwritten notes are a novelty. This adds value in a simple way.
- Add them on LinkedIn. The people you interview with are now a connection in your network. Reach out to them on LinkedIn, whether you get the position or not.
- Call back after deadline. Just because they said they would call you in two weeks doesn’t mean they actually will. If you get radio silence, give them a call to see if there’s anything else they need from you.
One of the biggest lessons I learned through my interview process at PR 20/20 was to appreciate the time you're given. The people interviewing you are extremely busy. Show that you appreciate their time and effort to get to know you.
And my final tip to you is this: I can’t stress it enough. PROOFREAD! Every email you send, every resume and every cover letter. Have a friend or family member read what you are writing to check for mistakes.
PR 20/20 was my absolute dream internship. It was a journey to get in the position I am, but I am thankful for every opportunity I was given.
Have you completed or are you completing a summer internship? Is there anything you’d add to the list? Please share it with us in the comments below!
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