It doesn’t really matter what industry you are trying to enter — internships are an essential way to get valuable hands-on experience in your potential career. On top of that, it’s probably the greatest opportunity you’ll have to get your foot in the door. And, with social media as popular as ever, landing an internship in this exciting field could be your entry into a rewarding career.
The problem with the rise of social media is the amount of competition you’ll face not only when applying for an internship, but also when searching for a job. To make sure that you’re prepared, and have an edge on everyone else, here are the ten best ways to land a social media internship.
1. Clean Up Your Social Media Accounts
When it comes to branding, social media has become the face of a brand. If that’s the case, why would a company hire someone who will not represent them professionally or positively? You can be certain that a company will search for you on various social media outlets (about 93 percent of recruiters will search social media during the interview process).
To avoid losing out on a golden opportunity, clean up all of your social media accounts. Remove any embarrassing Facebook pictures – you know, like that one of you passed out on the floor after a heavy night of partying. It might have been funny in college, but not when you are looking for an internship! If you’re having a bad day at work, avoid venting on Twitter or Tumblr. Do you remember that Red Cross situation from 2011? We’re pretty sure companies don’t want or need that kind of attention.
In short, use a little more common sense when posting new content or updating your social media accounts. And, keep them just a bit more professional. This way, companies can see you in a more responsible and favorable light.
2. Make an Impression
Since you’re going to be involved with social media, we’re certain someone is going to be searching for you online; which is why you cleaned up all of your accounts. But, there’s a little more to it just than coming across as a responsible adult. You can also use your social media accounts to make an impression and stand out from everyone applying for that coveted internship.
It could be something as simple as creating a unique and incredible online resume where a company can see your qualifications. You could already be following an influential person on Twitter or LinkedIn and have already introduced yourself. Or, you could go all out and do what Braden Young did when Krispy Kreme Donuts needed a Sales & Marketing Manager. He created a ‘Hire Me’ campaign and was contacted four hours after launching his campaign. And yes, he got the job.
When you put in the extra effort and do something creative or different, it not only makes you stand out – it also gives companies a better idea of the determination and talent you have.
3. Create a Portfolio
Even if you didn’t create an online resume or clever campaign like Braden Young did, you still want to show companies what you’re capable of. In fact, it’s a given that they’ll ask to see examples of your work. Which is why you should put together a portfolio with a free tool like Wix.com.
But, what specific examples of work should you showcase? You could create a social media response workflow that will analyze online comments and provide sample responses. Or, you could illustrate how social media can increase sales and improve customer support.
Search for industry-related events in your area, such as PRSA, Social Media Club, Business Marketing Association. You don’t have to attend all of them, but make an appearance at a couple of them. Hopefully, you’ll strike up a conversation with a potential employer. Since you also (better have!) brought business cards and/or resumes, your foot is already in the door.
Of course, you can also gain the attention of a key contact through social media. Following employees or influencers on a platform like Twitter is a great way to not just network, but also gain insight. Don’t hesitate to start talking with them and asking about the company. Not only does this establish a relationship, it could give you a better understanding of what type of person the company is interested in and what you need to do to be that person.
5. Do Your Research
Find out everything you possibly can about the company. Who are their clients? What are some examples of their past work? How are they positioning themselves for the future? This shows that you have interest in the company and their work. It will also help create a list of potential questions and answers, which you can use to prepare for the interview.
6. Be on Time for the Interview and Dress to Impress
These are so basic, but people somehow still manage to neglect this advice: For starters, a potential employer does not want an interviewee to show up late. It’s disrespectful and shows lack of motivation. To prevent this mistake, aim to arrive 10-15 minutes early.
Another frequent mistake is how people dress for the interview. Now, you may be thinking that this is for an internship and not a job, but that’s a poor excuse.You likely have just this one opportunity to make a first impression, which is a very big deal. And, guess what? The first judgment a prospective employer will make is based on your appearance. Make sure you’re groomed and appropriately dressed. Keep your wardrobe conservative. For example, men should wear a solid navy or grey suit, while women should wear a navy, black, or dark grey suit/blouse.
7. Cover Letter and Resume
Here is the chance for you to share your experience and qualifications. Of course, to make an impression you should have a solid cover letter that explains why you attached a resume, how you learned of the company and why you should intern with them. If you need inspiration, revisit Braden Young’s cover letter.
As for the resume, it should be clear, concise, honest, and professional. You want to highlight your personal and professional goals and include your education and qualifications. You also need to take the time to proofread both your resume and cover letter. And, just to be safe, ask someone else to proofread it as well. It never hurts to have a set of fresh eyes.
We mentioned this earlier, but it could be in your best interest to post your resume online. If you’ve networked correctly, someone may have already looked over the resume before the interview. Besides, it saves some trees.
So, it’s been about a week since you sent out your application, and you’re kind of stressing out. Take a deep breath and make a phone call to the company. Ask if they’ve received your application. Don’t worry. It’s not nagging. It shows that you have a real interest in the internship and that you’re a keen and conscientious person. Hopefully, you’ll find out sooner than later if you got the internship.
But what if you didn’t?
Don’t give up. No one likes feeling rejected. But there are other opportunities to land another internship. In fact, during your follow-up, inquire on what you weren’t chosen. Don’t be defensive or come across as aggressive. It could be something as simple as they just preferred someone else because they were more qualified, and you can’t do anything about that. But, what if you made several mistakes on your application? Now you can go back and fix those errors. Just imagine if you weren’t aware of that information.
9. Apply Away
So, you’ve already Googled available and appropriate internships and created a list of potential employers. Next up, applying for that internship. Since you probably don’t have an extensive work history or even the qualifications, you should focus on your personal qualities, interests, and personality – which is what you’ll include in your cover letter and application.
When filling out the application, be sure to include how the internship will benefit you and your career. You also need to explain what qualities you will bring to the company. This is why you need to take the time and serious consideration when completing the application.
Also, don’t settle on just one internship. What if you only send out one application and you don’t get the internship? Have a back-up plan just in case your top landing spot becomes unavailable.
10. Learn The Responsibilities of a Social Media Intern
Being a social media intern is fun, exciting, and gives you a great opportunity to showcase your talents. But there’s a lot more to it than just updating a company’s Facebook status. Before applying for an internship, make sure that you understand at least some of the tasks that will be asked of – besides getting everyone coffee and donuts.
So, what kind of tasks are we talking about? For starters, you should understand all of the various social media outlets and how to create content for each one. For example, a six-second video clip was obviously created for Vine. But, what content will work for Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest? You could also be asked to perform a competitive analysis or research which platforms your company’s audience frequents and prefers. You may even be able to participate in a working on a creative and engaging content.
Unfortunately, there will also be the menial tasks. Having to go through every Facebook comment or retweet can get tedious. But, this type of monitoring is crucial. It gives you an indication on what people are saying about the company and how to make improvements. More importantly, by responding to comments, you’re engaging visitors and building a community.
Were you a social media intern? Do you have any tips to help a potential intern land a gig? Or, if you’re looking for a social media intern, what qualities and skills do you want them to bring to the table?