More than a Resume: Put Your Best E-Face Forward
Wow. I haven’t done hiring in a while, but I have to say that my recent foray into finding an intern has been just slightly short of awful. I know it’s unpaid, but really? No one worth contacting?
I want this terrible experience to be a lesson to people who may be fresh out of college looking for a job, or currently in the market for an internship.
For the love of everything that is good, take this advice!
- Google yourself. I’m going to. It’s almost the first thing I’m going to do. Get into Chrome, hit Control + Shift + N to open an incognito window, and Google the name on your resume. If you have one of those nice common names (not a problem for me!), you may want to add the city, or search your email address. See what comes up. If you are careful about what can be found publicly from you, then you won’t have problems. You won’t say crazy things on Youtube with your actual, full legal name attached to them. Today I searched for someone and one of the top results was her Youtube page. Cool, she knows how to use Youtube. The bad things? Videos of her doing some rather interesting dancing (not like Elaine Benes—think twerking), and comments on videos of Justin Bieber, throwing around some accusations about the sexual preference of women characters in the Twilight movies. Wow. I am definitely not going to give you an internship in PR when you clearly have no clue how to manage your own reputation with any amount of tact or detail.
- Add some personality. I got so many packets that were the current equivalent of Willy Loman. I mean seriously, there was just nothing remarkable at all. No personality. No fun. No character. Even if it was an okay resume and I might consider having them for an interview, they’re not the top of the pile. Not by a long shot. The guy that I picked for my first call back had written an essay about his philosophical take on a particular aspect of Star Wars. His online bio included the fact that he’d wandered the desert and was a non-traditional intern. Totally cool! At least you are a real person.
- Don’t be a serial intern. I have more than one packet in front of me where the applicant has had at least three internships. What is that? I guess I don’t understand. Do you not want a job or can you just not get hired? Why have none of these people hired you? I think that it would make more sense to do one internship, and then if they can’t hire you, you stay involved (if it’s unpaid anyway), and list that on your resume as volunteering. Then, if you want to get other experience somewhere else, try for an internship somewhere else, or—better yet—look for something part-time. This way you have paid work experience (even if it’s not your dream job), internship, volunteering, and hopefully some extra-curriculars or other academic involvement. That will make you look more well-rounded instead of looking like someone who is collecting a series of internship merit badges.
- Why are you so over-qualified? I’m not looking for free labor. I know it sucks that my company doesn’t have pay for interns, but that’s why I am trying to find someone who really needs a chance to prove that they can do it. It may seem counter-intuitive, but the person who sent me an entire marketing plan that they created, who already works part-time for a PR firm—why do you want this internship? Is it a matter of just trying to meet more marketing people so that you can hopefully get hired full-time somewhere? I get that it might help you reach your goal, but you’re going to come into an internship position and not need to be taught anything. You’re going to have basically a duplicate entry on your resume, but for a different company. What is enriching about that? Again, I’d still give the person a chance if they wrote a cover letter with good points about why I should pick them, but they’re not going to be the top of the pile.
- Write a cover letter. I don’t care if it’s a pain. Take twenty minutes to write a good letter talking about what you want to get out of an internship, and why my company will fit with your plan. And if you already have a cover letter, you’d better proof that baby good because I got one saying that it would be great to intern for a publishing company. Yeah, we’re a marketing firm. Nice try.
Who do I think would be the best intern? You try hard in school, you’ve had some employment (even if it’s service work or something not at all related to your degree—it proves you can show up, take orders, and not get fired), and you’re really interested in what we do here. Seriously. If you are majoring in balloon animals at clown college, but you really want to break into marketing and you have good communication skills, I’d be all about it. You just have to make your case.
And before you do that, Google yourself!