From the Intern's Desk

thoughts, tools, tips, and tricks from the perpetual intern

Archive for the category “College”

How to Write a Thank You Note

An intern needs thank-you cards before he or she ever sets foot on the job. Part of being an intern means standing out among all the other potential interns in your supervisor’s eyes. Sending a thank-you note after an interview shows your appreciation for the supervisor’s time. It also shows that you’re detail-oriented and thoughtful. Who wouldn’t want to hire you?

Tips for writing a memorable thank-you note:

  1. Recall something you discussed at the interview – If you learned something unique about the company, mention it! If you learned something about the interviewer (she went to your college, he’s from your hometown, etc.) mention that, too! Include details that show you were paying attention. Try not to go overboard in personal touches because you always want to …
  2. Keep it short and sweet – People are busy. Your interviewer will appreciate getting the note, but won’t want to spend more than a minute or two reading it. A few brief sentences expressing your gratitude for his or her time will go a long way.
  3. Always sound sincere – Saying you just can’t wait to work for the company and are so excited to be part of the team can come across as a little desperate, especially when writing it to every company you interviewed with. Companies know that there won’t be a connection with every potential intern interviewed. Be gracious, even if you didn’t make that connection.
  4. Include your contact information – A business card or just a phone number after your name will suffice. You never know when you’ll come across your interviewer again in the future. He or she might be able to help you get an interview or a position within the company. After I wrote a thank-you note to a woman I interviewed with, she gave me a call and said that I was one of her top choices and if I wanted to intern for them in the future (I chose another company) to let her know.

Here’s an example:

Dear (interviewer’s name goes here),

Thank you for meeting with me on (day) for an interview for the position within your company. I really appreciate you spending the time to learn more about my qualifications and work that I could do for (name of company, dept., etc.). I’m glad I could learn more about/I didn’t know/Thanks for sharing (something you learned at the interview). I’m very grateful for this opportunity and hope you’ll consider me for the position. I’ve included my business card for your reference (if you included it)

Sincerely,

Sara Steffan (Your name, obviously)
(Phone number/email address if you did not include a business card)

A final tip: if you have neat handwriting, write it. It makes it feel more personal. If you don’t have neat handwriting, still try to write it. Typing it seems generic. Do a practice run on a sheet of scrap paper if you’re worried about messing up. And whatever wording you choose, be polite and always be yourself.

Helpful resources:

The Morning News – How to Write a Thank-You Note by Leslie Harpold offers suggestions on how to write a more personal thank-you with tips on what not to include.

Write Express tells you why writing a thank-you note can get you a job.

And finally, you can purchase your thank-you cards from Vista Print, where you can design your own or pick from their styles, choosing exactly how many you’ll need and even the type of paper.

How to Gain Valuable Internship Experience

Seek and you shall find ... if you're looking in the right place, of course.

…without killing yourself. Here are some tips from my own experience as well as from other bloggers:

  1. What’s your value? Job experience, career exploration, résumé building – there are many reasons why you should intern. Determine the most important one to you. Tailor your cover letter to each employer – don’t just send out a generic letter. Show an employer why you would add value to their company.
  2. Where to intern? Analyze your needs and wants. Do you need a paying position? Do you want agency experience? Nonprofit experience? There are many outlets to develop your skills, but not all will be a perfect fit. Many internships are unpaid, but they offer college credit. Make sure to talk to your major adviser so they can approve your enrollment and even give you suggestions as to where to apply.
  3. Who can help you land your dream internship? People with contacts in your field, like a professional who can mentor you, would be great. You can develop contact at organizations that may have a local chapter, such as PRSSA or IABC. And of course, there’s always the career services office like the Cronkite Career Services Office for example that have a wealth of information. Make sure you’re on your college’s mailing list!
  4. When should you apply? EARLY. Early, early, early. Internships have deadlines. When I applied to an internship I saw in a career services email, I heard back right away because I was one of the first ones that applied. A job won’t wait around forever, especially if it’s one a lot of people want. Research upcoming opportunities, and if you see one you like, send in an application. Even if you don’t, anticipate the needs like how this One Day One Internship post said to search the Wayne Gretzky way. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box.
  5. What can you do to standout? Be creative. Emphasize your strengths by creating a social media plan for yourself – your Twitter page, YouTube, LinkedIn and how you communicate using these tools. Tell your employers how you did it. Advertise yourself. Use Prezi to put together a unique résumé that employers will remember. Reach out to employers on LinkedIn and follow them on Twitter. (see other good Twitter resources below)
  6. How do you move on if rejected from an employer? Don’t give up! Every setback is a new opportunity to find a better fit. Change your approach to networking. See if you get results. Internships are not jobs, so not as much is on the line. Read more blogs, comment and interact with others. Now is the time to take chances – establish yourself as a brand and identify your strengths and weaknesses.

Before you play the game, you must know the rules. Internships are competitive, especially in public relations. You have to be known before you’re considered for the job. The best way to get known is establishing yourself in the digital world. Use #prstudchat and #internchat hashtags to join the conversation, and find good people to follow.

Follow on Twitter

@YouTern – YouTern is effective because they tweet both companies to intern for and articles about interning. They have a blog offering tips and advice from experienced people that’s updated regularly.

Similar: @VoxPopPRCareers; @PRWork; @InternAlert – All update regularly with job and internship opportunities in the US (and even the UK for VoxPop).

@ComeRecommended – Offering several how-to articles, ComeRecommended works for both interns and their future employers. Their posts offer advice tailored to almost any situation you may find yourself in. You can join and interact with other interns and reach out to employers on their site.

@InternQueen – Lauren Berger, aka the Intern Queen, has years of experience. She had fifteen internships while in college. She offers tips and tricks for breaking into the internship world. Her site allows you to directly fill out applications for internships, even in fields other than PR.

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