There are two essential requirements to earning an outstanding internship. You need to be:
- A great candidate.
- Known to the people who will be hiring interns.
A great candidate for an internship will have:
- Good grades in school. Typically, the path to good grades involves studying all semester, not just the night before the exam, interacting with the material presented in discussions and problem solving sessions, not just trying to read and memorize, and attending an academic program which is well matched to their strengths (and weaknesses).
- Great recommendations from their faculty and/or events people at their school. These are obtained by working intensively with faculty and/or events people on projects. Merely earning good grades in classes is not sufficient.
- A portfolio describing (and illustrating with photos) the events in which they had major positive impact on the success of the event. Of course, this assumes that they have had an active role and impacted events over an extended period of time. (Hint: If you haven’t started yet, start now. Document each event within 24 hours of the event completion, so you will have this information when you need it.)
- Great recommendations/testimonials from people who sponsored and/or attended the events.
- Leadership in student organizations in which they can explain how the organization improved and its members benefited because they were involved.
- A resume which ROARs (is Results Oriented And Relevant).
- Prepared for their interviews, by being able to articulate clearly, sincerely and honestly their role in the events, how their contributions made the events successful, what went very well at the events, what did not go so well, the actions they took to make the events successful in spite of the challenges encountered, and what the actions they will take to prevent the problems in the future.
- Done and communicated all of the above with positive attitude, appearing interested, enthusiastic and involved in everything they do.
A great internship candidate will be well known to potential employers because they have:
- Taken the initiative to introduce themselves to numerous event planners and organizers near their home and school.
- Found several mentors and meet with them on a regular basis for career guidance.
- Attended business networking events in their home community and their academic community.
- Are known by their local chamber of commerce.
- Made significant contributions on community service projects.
- Contributed to and been featured in blog posts, newspaper articles, etc.
- Work experience doing events.
- Prepared by speaking with people, be they relatives, family friends, or just people they happen to meet by chance.
- Contributed to the organization of student/alumni and other types of events.
- Become well known to their school placement office.
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Individuals who have met many, if not all, of these milestones will be in a very good position to secure a great internship. Perhaps, more importantly, focusing on these action items will also help them to develop their skills and career interests.
Ron would like to thank Dr. Margarita Posada Cossuto for helpful comments.