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How to Get the Internship of Your Dreams: Part 2

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How To Get The Internship of Your Dreams Part 2
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Now that your internet identity is completely clean and professional, for the next part in our internship series, we can move on to more internship-like preparation! Potential employers will probably ask you for the following things that you can prepare ahead of time when applying for an internship: a resume, a cover letter and/or recommendations. Below, you’ll find tips on assembling each of these.

Computer and work
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Get your recommendations set before you send in your resume.

Recommendations (if necessary) will probably be requested after you send in your resume and cover letter, but it is a good idea to have these on hand, because obtaining them from past employers, advisers, professors, etc. will not necessarily be an easy feat. Recommendations normally take a while to complete, and you don’t want to keep a potential employer waiting when you can easily have them stored on your computer.

Even though your mom would write the most killer recommendation for you (I know mine would!), you should find someone more “professional.” An adviser for a club you participate in is a great place to start, especially if you’ve never had a job or internship with an employer who could talk highly about you. Professors are great to ask as well! Great advice that I’m told each semester: find at least one professor to become close with each semester. This is a great way to form a strong bond that will last for the future, and as a bonus, they will be more than willing to write you recommendations.

Here are some more tips to scoring great letters of recommendation:

  • It’s always a good idea to get recommendations from various sources. Some may be better than others, but you won’t actually know the quality of a recommendation until it’s in your hands.
  • If it’s taking longer than you expected for your source to write your recommendation, don’t hesitate to touch base with them through an e-mail or phone call. Let them know how thankful you are to them for working so hard and quickly on it since you will be applying for these internships in [insert time frame here].
  • It’s always a nice gesture to give the person writing your recommendation a small (or large, depending on how much they’ve done for you in the past) gift. This can be anything from a small gift card to Starbucks ($10 gets you about 2-3 drinks!) or a quirky desk decoration, like a paperweight.

Writing a resume
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Cover letters are a great place to express WHY you want the internship.

Cover letters are basically just what their name says they are: a letter that is attached to your resume. In this letter, you want to stand out and blow whoever is reading it away before they even get to your resume beneath.

Cover letters are great places to show how much you know about the company. If you throw in one or two discreetly placed facts about the company, it shows you’ve done your research. Don’t come out and say, “I know this company has been around for 20 years.” Instead say, “I feel that I’d be a great asset to and representative of your 20-year old company.” So, do your Google research before writing your cover letter. Go over the company’s mission and history, and maybe even their clients. This will also help you get an idea of what type of employee they’re looking for so that you can play up your best traits.

Cover letters are also great places to quickly summarize why you’re perfect for the job. Is there one major event in your life (for me, it was founding and planning a fashion show for my high school two years in a row) that you feel really qualifies you? Explain why. For instance:

In the founding and planning of a school fashion show for two consecutive years, I learned how to be a strong leader. This is one reason why I would be perfect for your company, since your level of innovation could only be achieved with strong leadership.

A cover letter should be no longer than a page long. Anything longer seems almost unprofessional and more like an autobiography than an introduction to you and your resume.

What you should always include in your cover letter:

1) Your contact information (name and address) – usually at the top of the letter
2) The employer’s contact information – normally on the top of the letter as well
3) Your phone number and e-mail – usually within your last two sentences of your letter
4) An experience/experiences that qualify you for that specific position
5) Why you want to have a chance to intern for the company

Here are links to several useful sites about cover letters:

Your resume is the most important part of your application.

After you have your cover letter and recommendations set, it’s time to work on your resume. As you know, your resume is a rundown of your experience, which will let your employer know if you are qualified for the job. A basic resume should have a heading with your name, address, phone number & e-mail address.

Here are some more tips to writing an amazing resume:

  • Your resume should also be no longer than one page. If you have so much experience that your resume doesn’t fit onto one single page, you should omit the less relevant or important jobs and experiences you’ve had. For instance, if you’re trying to get an internship in fashion, a potential employer won’t care about your experience as a day camp counselor (unless maybe you designed the costumes for the camp play or something else that’s fashion-related).
  • It is important to organize your experience by date (from oldest to most recent). You should have about 2-4 bullet points (try to be consistent) about each job/experience you’ve had. The most important and relevant experiences should probably get more bullet points than smaller jobs you’ve held. It is not necessary for each experience to have the same exact number of bullet points, and this will only take up more space than necessary.
  • Your resume should be extremely organized. Separate your actual jobs and internships from extracurricular activities. Also, make sure each “section” of your resume has its own title. For instance: Education (underneath, put your current college or where you graduated from), Work Experience (list your jobs and internships underneath this title), Extracurricular Activities, Skills & Achievements (list any awards or honors you have received as well as your skills, including Photoshop, HTML, Microsoft Excel, etc.).

Here are some great links pertaining to resumes:

Resume t-shirt
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Spice up your resume.

If you are applying for a job/internship in an especially creative field, such as graphic design, you may want to use your resume to show off your skills. Here are some fabulous examples of creative and original resumes.

As you can see, all the resumes on that site are completely different from a typical resume. A typical resume should be created on some type of word processor and then converted into a PDF (this is very important: not everyone has Ms Office, while PDF is pretty much a universal format). However, resumes like the ones featured on that site are completely creative and out of the box, which is important for more artistic fields.

So, if you are applying for an extremely creative job, consider how you can “spice up” your resume. Add color, different fonts, shapes or designs. If you have the resources to create an incredible resume that will visually amaze whoever is reading, do it!

Not every internship you apply for is going to ask for the typical cover letter and resume. In looking for fashion-related internships, you may come across things like, “send a picture of yourself,” “send clips of your writing,” etc. If you are uncomfortable sending in a picture of yourself, then the internship may not be for you. Writing clips (or examples of writing you have done for a school newspaper, blog, etc.) are typically asked for when you are applying for an internship in journalism.

Extra tips

  • Many schools offer resume workshops where you can learn how to physically put together your resume and cover letter. I highly recommend attending one of these as opposed to going it alone!
  • Also consider going see an English, Business or just a trusted professor you may have had in order to have your resume edited or just to get general tips on resume writing.
  • Most schools have a Career Services department that specializes in helping students find jobs and internships, and they usually have resume writing resources and examples. Take advantage of these!
  • Always let an experienced adult look over your resume and cover letter before you send them out. Try to find a business owner who knows what other business owners are looking for in a resume.
  • Always keep your resume updated. After just two weeks interning for College Fashion, I understood most of my responsibilities and immediately posted it onto my resume, just so it would be prepared if I ever needed to send it out quickly.

What’s next?

In the next installment of this series, I’m going to be discussing where to find an internship. I will give you websites that you can find internships listed on (mainly fashion-related ones), tips on finding internships through family and friends, and various other tips on finding the right internship for you.

In the meantime, if you have suggestions for finding an internship, send them to sarah AT collegefashion DOT net or leave them in a comment and I’ll review them! Would love to have your feedback and I’ll definitely include your best tips in an upcoming post.

What do you think?

What do you think the most important aspects of cover letters and resumes are? Do you have any tips to writing a great resume or cover letter? How do you make your application stand out from the rest? Let us know in a comment!

Posted on on February 17, 2010 / Filed Under: College Life / Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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31 Responses to “How to Get the Internship of Your Dreams: Part 2”

  1. 1
    February 17th, 2010 at 10:54 am

    I highly disagree that your resume has to be only one page! Check the facts– most HR people at work sites and Career Services people at colleges do not adhere to this archaic “rule” which seems to have no traceable origin. A resume is the place to show how fabulous you are and even seemingly “irrelevant” information can actually tell a lot about you. For example, I am looking for a job in teaching, but I include on my resume the fact that I worked at a grocery store for five years. Even though the two look unrelated, the fact that I worked at the same grocery store for five years says a lot about my people skills, my dedication, and that my colleagues/supervisors must have liked me! People skills and dedication are definitely needed in the field I’m looking to go into (or pretty much any field).

  2. 2
    February 17th, 2010 at 11:47 am

    these posts are so great! you go so in depth and tell EXACTLY how to do it which is really helping me out right now! your tips are great and your instructions are perfect.
    thanks!!

  3. 3
    February 17th, 2010 at 11:48 am

    Great post! Really useful!

    I don’t think your resume has to be one page either though but if you’re looking to make more of an impact then short and sharp is better than something that rambles on for pages.

    I always think it’s a good idea to aim your resume at the job you’re going for – I’ve twisted mine about in the past depending on the type of position I’ve been applying for. Other jobs, although they may not seem as if they connect in the beginning, can actually show you’ve learned something that can be transferred into another sector.

    I would never include a picture on a resume either – I find it really awkward when people do that. I saw a resume of someone who applied for the job I hold currently where she was sitting on holiday sipping a cocktail. It seemed really out of place on a business document.

  4. 4
    February 17th, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    It was really interesting for me to edit this, because I look at all this stuff when hiring people to work for CF! In general, though, I hate resumes – they are so boring and they all look the same. And I think I would be really annoyed if someone sent me a resume (even though I ask them NOT to send resumes) that was more than 2 pages. Yikes! If you’re applying for a job that gets a lot of applications, rest assured that your 5 page resume will annoy the person hiring you more than it will tell them about you. And 99% of the time, they’re not going to bother with that second page. It’s just the truth.

    Also, about photos on resumes, I’ve seen people do that too! Apparently it’s more customary in European countries – a woman I know from Germany says it’s pretty common in Germany to always have your photo on your resume. Not sure why, but I guess it’s something required there!

  5. 5
    February 17th, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    Yes, five rambling pages is overkill.

    According to what I’ve read, HR and Career Services types generally think one to three pages is appropriate. The rule of thumb is to justify another page, it should cover one-third to one-half of the page. Obviously, for college students and entry-level positions, one or two pages would probably be most appropriate.

    Being in a creative and (relatively) young field, I can understand why you hate looking at boring resumes and would want to see more creative ones. However, most jobs are going to have older people, more conservative people, possibly with not-so-perfect eyesight looking at the resumes. My Career Services person at my college doesn’t necessarily like the “creative” resumes because colors and fonts hurt her eyes or distract from the information needed.

    Its all about knowing what is appropriate. Any kind of Career Services, provided by a college or a private company, can help determine that.

  6. 6
    February 17th, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    Great point, Erin. It definitely does depend on the job you’re applying for. Obviously, in conservative industries like accounting and the like, resumes are required and you should NOT get too creative with them! In general, you should really just pay attention to what the specific job posting is looking for. I always say “no resumes” because I want more creative stuff, but if a posting wants a resume, you better include it!

  7. 7
    February 17th, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    Oh, also, another thing about resumes – if someone specifically says they don’t want you to send a resume, do not send one anyway! It’s such a pet peeve of mine. It’s like deliberately telling the person hiring you “I won’t/can’t follow instructions.” (Can you guys tell I deal with this a lot?) Of course it’s not a 100% deal breaker, but it definitely gives a bad impression.

  8. 8
    February 17th, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    Some of this is really helpful, but I would have to disagree with listing your information on your resume from oldest to most recent. I would definitely put my more current work experience at the top of the resume and go down the page from there. I wouldn’t want some silly job I had in high school to be the first thing the employer would see. I’d rather them see my experience at a newspaper for 2.5 years and then my most recent internships. Your jobs seem to get better as you get more experience.. so I would put it from most recent to oldest.

  9. 9
    February 17th, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Leslie,

    I totally agree with you! Your most recent experience should be at the top and oldest toward the bottom. I think I was typing so fast that I just was thinking from bottom up, and that’s why I wrote oldest to most recent. OOPS!

    XOXO,
    Sarah

  10. 10
    February 17th, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Sarah,
    This is a great article for students beginning to write a resume. I work for my campus’s Career Services office helping students edit cover letters and resumes, so I have a lot of training and experience with resume writing. Your tip to try and stick to one page is right on- many HR officers wont read a second page (unless you are applying for a teaching position). However, like Erin mentioned, always include experiences that show your responsibility and dedication!

    A few more tips:
    1. Make sure your resume is targeted towards the job you are looking at. Sometimes, instead of using chronological order, try putting the most relevant experiences first.
    2. Be creative with your category headings. It might be more effective to organize your resume by something other than work, volunteer, and extracurricular activities. Since I am interested in research positions, I have a Research Experience heading that includes both paid work and extracurricular experience, as well as large research projects for class.
    3. Quadruple-check for spelling and grammar errors!

  11. 11
    February 17th, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    Desiree, I have also been told the same thing, that employers will not look beyond the first page of a resume. I have always followed the one page rule. I think it shows that you can pinpoint what about you makes you suitable for that job.

    In terms of recommendations, I have had many professors tell me that they would prefer to send them directly to my potential employers. So I make sure to provide people with an addressed and stamped envelopes, just in case. I know you can not save them that way, but I also make sure I ask if they would be ok with me contacting them again over the next few years (1-2yrs) if I need a rec again.

  12. 12
    February 17th, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    Excellent series, Sarah,
    You were extremely concise and covered everything. My college coach is helping me work on a resume of my own, so I can’t wait to compare what she has told me with your tips! It’s always good to have resources. I find it difficult to seek out fashion internships, really internships of any kind (pertaining to what I’m interested in, doesn’t have to be fashion) in my hometown of Pittsburgh that, well, WANT a girl under 18 (but I’ll be 18 in March) with no experience or credentials, and who has only worked one job a few weeks out of her life! It’s frustrating and an endless battle to show people that yes, I am mature, and no, it doesn’t matter that I’ve never held a position of retail, because I have the passion, the flare, and the creativity to succeed. People are so agest.

  13. 13
    February 17th, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    I think this series is great! I am a junior in college and I have my first internship this year. I also belong to a co-ed professional fraternity where we do resume workshops, etc. One thing I have been asked for many times that I think would be a great addition to your list is a writing sample-if you are applying for any internship where you may need to demonstrate english, writing or language skills, I think it’s very important to have some writing sample on hand that you would be able to send. Overall great article, I would like to see more pieces like this on CF!

  14. 14
    February 17th, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    I totally agree with almost all of this! However, I’m pretty sure that you shouldn’t put your picture on a resume, at least in the US. Why? If you submit your resume with a photo and don’t get the job, then the company has a potential lawsuit on their hands, as you could claim they didn’t hire you because they didn’t like the way you look. I’m not 100% sure about it, but that’s what I have heard.

    Another tip-do NOT use the resume templates on MS Word! I know it’s simple to use them and really convenient, but it can be a pain over time, because you don’t have control over the document. This may be a personal thing, but I think resumes not from templates look much better than resumes from said templates. Anyways, just my two cents I love this series!

  15. 15
    February 17th, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    Wow, those resumes are just breathtaking! (:
    They really stand out from plain ones, and they look great! =)

    Great post, and I cannot wait for the next one! :]

    xoooxoxoxoxo

  16. 16
    February 17th, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    How do I convert my document into a pdf?

  17. 17
    February 18th, 2010 at 7:06 am

    @ Elle – if you have a Mac it’s easy, just Print –> PDF in the bottom left corner, then choose save as PDF or whatever it says. On a PC you need additional software, either Adobe’s or something else (no good at the PC stuff, no, heh) – there are freeware programs for it, if you Google “convert to PDF” or something.

  18. 18
    February 18th, 2010 at 7:34 am

    I LOVE this. The article itself, and the comments after it are SO helpful! Thanks very much, Sarah! Definitely a bookmark! :D

  19. 19
    February 18th, 2010 at 10:06 am

    Elle – There is usually an option on PCs and Macs if you use Office 2008 to either “save as pdf” or “print -> pdf”. It’s pretty much standard on Microsoft Word now. If you use another program, I’m not sure how you do it, though.

  20. 20
    February 18th, 2010 at 11:17 pm

    I read this article and I am liking the series so far.
    It’s ironic because i work at the career center in my school. Noone uses our servises except for seniors and people who need to desperately get internships and jobs. I do resumes and typically it is recommended to one page. I also do mock interviews. There are various sources where you can go to get a resume checked or references. First off try to see where your career services are and if they can review. If you go to a fashion school, they should most likely provide services VERY closely related to Fashion. Since i go to a mostly business-related school, most of our postings are business related.
    I would suggest that people who want to see what they can do to futher stand themselves out from other candidates to to their research on the company. hoover’s online is good. vault, wet feet, and the company website itself. For the fashion world, they might ask you articles on the latest fashion and why you think that why.

    Sorry for the long comment =) Will continue to read your series!

  21. 21
    July 9th, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    @elle : witch kind of document would you like to convert ? what is the extension ?

  22. 22
    September 16th, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    This is great. I also want to give you a huge thanks for using the correct form of “discreet” :PP

  23. 23
    January 17th, 2011 at 1:40 am

    My biggest issue is the creative resumes. I am a graphic design student and have been in at a ton of different workshops and jobfairs and even my internship at Zimmerman have said not to get too wild with your resume. It is still going to have to be clean and professional to get the job.

  24. 24
    January 7th, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    Everyone saying you can have more than one page is WRONG. It definitely depends on where you’re applying but the Career Services Center at my school has pages of employer listings that request one page resumes. Businesses don’t want to take the time to read through your 2 page resume that includes every single club you joined and every project you ever joined on. Included the important, relevant stuff.

  25. 25
    May 2nd, 2012 at 9:35 am

    i like this web site hope one day ill be a fashion desighner i just need some tips

  26. 26
    August 21st, 2012 at 12:03 am

    I have read some excellent stuff here. Definitelу worth
    bookmarκing foг revisiting. I wonder how much
    attеmρt you put to make such a excellеnt informatiѵe web site.

  27. 27
    November 13th, 2012 at 11:29 am

    This page gives me ideas and what to write in this resume i am only a sophomore in high school but when i finish high school but then finish college when am reday to find a job then i will know what to write in my resume. :)

  28. 28
    November 13th, 2012 at 11:32 am

    This website teaches me how creative i could be and good tips in becoming a fashion designer.

  29. 29
    September 20th, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    That’s a really good article, I certainly learned new things about writing resumes that I will be using in the future!

    But what to do once we land an interview with the really good resume, hm? Would you agree with that there are some tricky questions, that are difficult to answer? How would you answer them?

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