11 Tips to Land an Internship to Gain Experience

What is one tip to land an internship with a company to gain experience? 

From crafting an elevator pitch to sending handwritten thank-you notes, there are several pieces of advice that may help you land an internship position and gain valuable work experience. 

Here are 11 tips for landing an Internship:

  • Craft an Elevator Pitch
  • Apply Early
  • Lean into Your Network
  • Put in Extra Effort
  • Write a Good Cover Letter
  • Pitch for Internship Positions
  • Make Yourself Noticeable
  • Highlight Volunteer Work
  • Suggest Solutions to Problems
  • Be Authentic
  • Send a Handwritten Thank You Note

Craft an Elevator Pitch

“When it comes to internships, there are often hundreds if not thousands of applicants all vying for the same spot. So how can you land one of these coveted positions? You need a well crafted elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is meant to be less than a minute, just the length of an average elevator ride. Your elevator pitch should answer who you are, what you do, and what makes you different. Most importantly, there needs to be a call to action and a hook to reel in attention so that the prospect wants to hear more from you.  With a well crafted and executed elevator pitch, you can stand out and turn a conversation into an internship offer.”

Heidi Peterson, Carbon Health Technologies

Apply Early

“Recent survey data at the University of Arizona has indicated that students who participate in at least one internship prior to graduation are twice more likely to report full-time employment after graduation. In addition, participation in paid internships also leads to increased starting salary and increased career satisfaction. So how do you land that great internship? Start applying early! Additional data from the University of Arizona indicates that students who started applying for jobs or internships 4 months in advance, were two and a half times more likely to report receiving a job/internship offer. Even more compelling, students who reported applying 6 months or more in advance were six times more likely to report having received an offer. Apply early, visit your university’s career center often for resume and career coaching advice, and don’t forget to attend both virtual and in-person career fairs and recruiting events being hosted at your school.”

Justin Finnerty, University of Arizona

Lean Into Your Network

“My main advice on how to gain an internship is to lean into your network. For example, in my work at ElevateEdAZ, I connect students with our industry partners. We have amazing businesses supporting our mission of connecting industry to education. I love when students approach me about our opportunities, including internships. It shows me that they are excited to get involved and are invested in their future. In turn, that makes me more invested in them!”

Allison Seitz, College and Career Coach at Elevated AZ – Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation

Put in Extra Effort

“In order to land an internship in the industry and company you are interested in, it is important to be strategic in your process. Be strategic in your search. Make sure the job description matches with your skill sets and tailor your resume and cover letter accordingly. You should not apply to every internship with a general resume. Be you! Be unique! You want to show the company what you can bring! By being intentional you will be able to see the results!”

Emmie Hughes, Success Coach Professional and Career Development at University of Arizona – Eller MBA

Write a Good Cover Letter

“You must have a cover letter that makes you stand out since it is not about your work experience. Show your passion for the role and the company and how the experience will have an impact on your career goals. Let them know what makes you unique. Tell your story and represent your true self!  Catch their attention!”

Lynda Booth, Soulful Search

Pitch for Internship Positions

“Instead of only searching for published internship opportunities, create a list of companies doing interesting work and request a conversation with people who work there by leveraging your network. Through these conversations, find out what kind of problems they need help with and how you could contribute. Once you’ve developed a perspective on how you can help, ask for introductions to hiring managers or reach out cold to pitch an internship that helps the employer see how you can add value.”

Steven Starks, Career Coach at The Muse

Make Yourself Noticeable

“It’s easy to forget about the small things that create a big impact and make us stand out from the rest. Clients and Recruiters alike remember the Candidates that bring a notepad to the interview, prepare questions for each person they speak to, ask about the next steps, and send a follow up email. These things seem small and are easy to forget, which is why we remember when someone does even one of them. Yes, what you wear, your degrees, and resume all matter, but it’s those small and thoughtful things that really stand out and say something about you as a person.”

Cassie Magee, Govig & Associates

Highlight Volunteer Work

“Even if you are trying to find an internship to gain experience, that does not mean you have yet to have any quality experience that these organizations will find attractive. Volunteering opportunities you have partaken in could be great things to highlight within your resume. Talk briefly about the various roles and responsibilities you had while volunteering that could translate to your future success in interning. You can also go into some of the on-campus roles you have taken in clubs or student body, these can also show how motivated and skilled you are as an applicant.”

Riley Adams, Author at Young and the Invested

Suggest Solutions To Problems

“Offer written suggestions on how to solve a problem or take advantage of an opportunity. If you are seeking a Marketing internship, offer some examples of how you might create a new marketing campaign. If you are seeking an HR internship, think about ways that you would recommend to improve employee engagement or the employer brand. Forwarding relevant articles to the manager can also help you create a relationship and demonstrate your skills, abilities, and knowledge and help to make yourself stand out in a sea of internship resumes.”

Scott Baker, CEO and Founder of Stage 3 Leadership

Be Authentic

“If I could recommend one tip to land an internship with a company to gain experience, that tip would be to be your most authentic professional self throughout the entire process. To further elaborate, I mean to truly show your personality where it shines and through that honesty, it should align with where you would like to be skillswise. When I think of the amazing opportunities that I have been able to be a part of– they were amazing, to begin with, because of how honest and clear I was about my goals including how that opportunity would take me to the next professional step in life. Let that experience that you anticipate gaining be aligned and true to your trajectory.”

Keona Gardner, Internship Coach

Send a Handwritten Thank You Note

“This may seem like a small thing, but sending a handwritten thank you note after your interview can really make an impression on your potential employer. It shows that you are grateful for the opportunity and takes the extra step to underscore your appreciation. Plus, it’s just a nice gesture that will make you stand out from other candidates. So don’t forget to drop a note in the mail after your next big interview!”

Rick Elmore, CEO of Simply Noted

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