Demonstrate your worth to land internship

Published November 27, 2010 4:00 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Although many employers already have hired their summer interns, it's not too late for some enterprising college student to nab a job for the summer.

The key? Proving to employers that hiring you makes perfect sense for their company, especially if you're willing to work for free in exchange for the experience.

That's exactly what happened when two college students contacted Rachel Anna Yeomans about being interns at her company, RachelAnna Consulting.

As a Chicago-based small-business owner who helps individuals develop the right career wardrobe, Yeomans said the first college student contacted her several months ago after hearing hers speak to a fashion class about blogging. "She sent me an e-mail five minutes after I finished talking."

That initiative, along with a good portfolio of work, persuaded Yeomans to give her a try. The result has been so positive that Yeomans has extended the intern's blogging work for the summer.

Another college student, from Atlanta, contacted Yeomans and had "styling experience," an important skill for Yeomans' business. "She just cold-called me and introduced herself," Yeomans said.

Yeomans added she might never have considered interns if they hadn't contacted her first, and believes other college students can do the same.

If you're a student looking for a summer internship, consider:

Doing your homework » Before pitching yourself to an employer, understand what the business does and how your skills could be put to use. While employers don't expect you to be highly skilled or have a lot of experience, they'll be looking for references. "In my business, we often go into people's homes, so it was important that an intern present themselves well. I also wanted to talk to their professors so I could see that they followed up on assignments and completed them on time. Time management is important to me," Yeomans said.

Not overreaching » While you may really want an internship, be honest about what you can and can't do. "Both of my interns were very upfront about their schedules, and how much time they could commit," Yeomans said. "I've talked to some college students before, and I just felt they were really overpromising what they could deliver."

Remembering that grades don't always matter » Some college students don't pursue internships because they feel their grades aren't stellar. While some schools require certain GPAs to have an internship, Yeomans said she "fought" for one intern who fell slightly below the required GPA. "I didn't even look at their grades. To me, it was the fact they were both young and hungry and willing to do the work."

Being a sponge » "The reason I extended the internship of my first intern was because she was willing to go above and beyond her job duties. She followed my directions and really listened when I told her things," Yeomans said, noting that she wouldn't be comfortable having an intern she felt was trying to take her job or be competitive with her business.

Remember, even if you don't land an internship with an employer this summer, keep the door open once you make contact with a business. Continue to e-mail about different skills you may be learning or classes you are taking that could apply to the business.

Anita Bruzzese can be contacted c/o: Gannett ContentOne, 7950 Jones Branch Drive, McLean, VA 22107.

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