In 12th grade, one of my older sisters was able to get me a job as an office clerk for $10 an hour. The first day I got there, I got a donut since someone bought donuts for everyone in the office. The work was easy. I just had to organize files and take care of random tasks that popped up. Everyone in the office was nice to me, and my hours were flexible.
I ended up working there for 2 years. I tried finding a paid internship before my senior year, but I never put a lot of effort into it. I didn’t start getting serious until I realized how I was getting tired of doing the same work over and I knew I could succeed in a marketing internship.
Finding out what I wanted
How many of us think that we won’t be able to land an internship in our field until were juniors and seniors with more experience? I used to think that, but I’ve changed my mind. My younger brother landed an internship in a related field during his last year of high school.
I just have to take a quick look at LinkedIn, and I see that others were doing internships before their junior and senior year. For me, I was hesitating because I didn’t understand what I wanted.
Even though I had finished 36 college credits in high school, I still didn’t know what field I wanted to go into. Finally, I started participating in different clubs on campus and thinking about what interests me. From there, I started going to career fairs and reading different job descriptions. During my junior year, I started getting more serious about applying for a paid internship.
Getting an accountability partner
I have to get a job/interview in my field a couple of times. All those times failed. I would lose my focus and maintain the status quo. It wasn’t until my older sister became my accountability partner that I started seeing some results. An accountability partner makes sure that you remember your goals and he/she also provides emotional support.
In my case, I would host a career circle with people in my family. Anyone who wanted to work on something career-related would come. The benefit was getting an immediate feedback and career advice.
Having a resume, cover letter, and samples ready
I recommend having a list of your accomplishments and positions that relate to the internship you want. It’s easier to do this when you know what type of internship you want. For me, I spent the last year building up some experience in my field by holding 3 different positions in one of my clubs.
Afterward, I found a template that I liked for my resume and cover letter. Then, I started looking for examples of my work. Lucky for me, I had created a lot of content for my club’s social media accounts and newsletter.
Telling my friends
Although telling my friends didn’t land me my internship, it helped my mindset. I became more serious about searching for a paid internship. Plus, I wasn’t stressed out about my references because they already said that they would be mine.
Prepping for the interview
Once I got the interview, I did more research on the company. Since I was applying for the marketing internship position, I made sure to check out their website and any social media accounts the company had. Next was the fun part. I collected some samples of my work and thinking about which experiences I should highlight.
From there, I did mock interviews with my accountability partner. I practiced some of the basic interview questions and got useful feedback. My main goal was demonstrating how my experiences made me suited for the role. In addition, I really wanted to show that I had potential to become great.
If your resume lands you an interview, then you’re probably qualified for the job. I view an interview as a time to judge the chemistry between you and your new bosses.
I also was very excited about possibly getting the internship and made sure to let my enthusiasm shine. During the interview, I took notes for my “thank you” email I needed to write.
After the Interview
Soon after my first interview, I sent a “thank you” email. I feel like the thank you emails I sent really helped. I must admit that thank you emails can be intimidating. You want to write an excellent one without writing a novel.
I followed a simple format:
-Quick thank you
-Reminded the interviewer about something he told me
-Harped on how I was excited to build a new skill
-Another thank you and my signature
Once I had the format down, it was easier to send them out quickly. My goal was to have a personalized touch with each email, so the people interviewing me would think that I was in a great position to hire.
Accepting the job offer
Have you ever had that moment where you just scream with reckless abandonment? Well, I did that when I told my older sister that I got the job. We both screamed, smiled, and did a happy dance.
I quickly opened my email and showed her the offer letter, employee handbook, and paperwork I would need to do. Before I showed her the email, I had already accepted the job. The story doesn’t end here. I still had one loose end – quitting my current job.
When you’re used to the status quo, change is difficult. The Monday after I accepted the job, I put in my two-week notice.