How to Ace Your Internship Program Application

7 min read

Sep 09, 2021

Maybe you’ve seen “The Intern” with Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro, or perhaps you’ve laughed at all the Gen Z-esque captions from news sites. Either way, part of you probably feels like nothing could have prepared you for the ins and outs of an internship program.

But take this into account: More than that dreaded thought of adulting, an internship program is still just a training ground for a career and working life. So, if thinking about resumes make your stomach all queasy and interviews suck the life out of you, don’t worry! Because you’re there to overcome those gaps and get a great learning experience out of it. So, take a few deep breaths, relax for a bit, and just take everything as it goes! 

And if that little pep talk didn’t help you, here’s a step-by-step guide to internship programs, starting with that pesky application process.

How do I get into an internship program? 

Aside from the school-arranged career fairs, there are lots of ways! You can start by looking through job search sites like Jobstreet, Kalibrr, Indeed, or LinkedIn. These are the easiest ways to find internship openings, and it’s also made easier with search bars that allow you to filter by industry, job types, experience level, etc.

You can also look through the websites and social media of the companies you’re interested in themselves. Some have pages for openings they may have. While others casually post on their social media timelines, Facebook Jobs, or on industry group pages like the Independent Creative & Advertising Professionals. 

But do note that not all companies are keen to share their job openings in a public sphere. In my experience, many of the companies I was interested in applying to before were pretty lowkey about it. This is because companies may prioritize postings for full-time jobs. This brings me to my next point.

If the options above feel limiting, look no further. Just send out that cold email! Instead of waiting for possible openings or scouring pages, you can just directly contact a company already. But, big tip: Rather than inquiring if a certain place accepts interns, just straight up send that all-in-one email that includes your cover letter, resume, and your interest/intent for an internship. Companies receive a ton of emails already, and it just streamlines the entire process to have all your cards laid out instead of these back-and-forth inquiries.

And if you’re curious about how to make all that, check out the next item on the list.

What are the steps for applying? 

First off, it all starts with the resume! And please don’t start dry heaving at the thought of it. Remember, you’re not expected to have it filled to the brim because you’re there to gain that experience. But let’s think about what you can fill it with to make up for those gaps!

Do – Put an objective/profile, educational background (high school to college, with the graduation year), professional skills, software (if applicable), academic achievements, membership to campus organizations/clubs, or any volunteer experience! You can even include competitions, workshops, or relevant classes if it’s related to the industry or holds importance to you. But don’t overdo it. 

Don’t – Put unnecessary personal information (address, birthday, age, etc.), your entire educational background, a full list of your hobbies and interests, a photo of yourself, your references (only include if requested), or basically, too many details. Always keep it brief.

Now, on to the cover letter! This is something you put in the body of your email. There are honestly many templates you can take reference from online. But, in essence, this is just a short background about yourself, your skills, and whatever experience you may have. You can tailor-fit some emails for particular companies, such as sentences that detail a longtime interest for the company or goals from the company that you align with. But, all in all, this isn’t an essay. Pack it up, Lang Leav! 

Then comes the interview! The next item will detail this a little better, but a tip: Do not overbook! Companies will always reply and schedule at such random times, so you have to pace all these apps in between.

How do I ace my internship program interview? 

Here we go! The most anxiety-inducing part. When I first had my internship program interview, I felt like my heart was beating out of my chest. I was literally vibrating off my seat from the nerves. But when it was over, I went, “Huh? That’s it?” So please, please, please keep in mind that it’s never as bad as it is in your head.

The reality of interviews is that it’s just you and the interviewer having a conversation. First impressions matter but reframe your perspective that it’s a make it or break it. This isn’t some teacher or professor calling for recitation on readings you were supposed to study over the weekend. It’s just them getting to know you. 

But, I get it! I’ve totally blanked before when an interviewer from a film company asked me a simple question of “What’s your favorite movie?” My head went into full crisis mode that day, and I ended up saying a KathNiel movie (which is 1/2 accurate).

So, to help you out in those moments, try to think of your answers ahead of time and practice! The way I look at interviews is that it’s divided into three parts: the usual Qs you can rip off the internet, the humblebrag Qs about your work and learnings, and the passion-filled Qs related to the industry or company you’re applying for. Try to research every company you’ve applied for and try to recall stories about your experiences. There may also be unknown variables that are either fun Qs about your interests and hobbies or #deep Qs about your viewpoints on life.

There’s no letting the imposter syndrome kick in today! You can do it!

How will it benefit my career? 

For most people, internships are the first work experience that they get to put on their resume. It’s the surefire item you’ll be checking off after graduation, so it really sets you up and helps you go far. So, with that, treat this internship program like it’s work. Because… It is. Pick a company you know you’ll learn from and go with an industry you can imagine yourself in.

Second, networking. And yes, I know. I hate that term too. But listen, when you’re an intern, you feel so small in this big world. But when you’re working, the world somehow feels even smaller. Most of the time, your boss, supervisors, managers, workers, or any co-interns you interacted with, chances are you’re going to see them again after grad. After all, you did all go for the same company, so that must mean you have similar interests and goals, right? So, just try to be friendly and interact with them a lot. And you never know, your internship company may absorb you for a job later on!

Third, you learn—the most important and valuable thing you can from the internship program. Away from the titles on the resumes and networking for career prospects, you learn so much about the industry you’re interested in being a part of. It’s your first taste of the future and first-hand look at how things will go. And this is the kind of learning that simply cannot be replicated in the confines of a classroom. So, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, ask all your questions, get advice from different people, bask in the work environment, and discover a career niche you might want to do!

Cheers to all the interns out there!

Art by Inna Cruz


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