By Sydney Gardner @sydneygardner
Internship application season often features students huddled around laptops with too big of cups of coffee in their hands. Some students will start the search as early as possible; while others may wait to binge apply over winter break. But at what point are you supposed to stop? There’s is no magic number when it comes to applying for internships. However there are a few steps you can take to make your search a little more efficient.
Know what you want.
Before applying to a single internship, you need to figure out what it is you want from it. This goes beyond just picking a company you admire or think would be fun to work at. It’s really important to determine what it is you want, and need, to get from any internship for you to consider it a success at the end. You are going to want to consider: location, duration, job responsibilities, office culture, whether it’s paid or unpaid and industry. One of the hardest things I faced from my internship search was having to turn down offers because it just was not a realistic option for me. Never apply to internship that you have no intent on taking. Consider what internships you want, and what internships are a feasible for you. Apply to the internships that fall into both those categories.
Taking simple steps throughout your internship application process will set you up to be more successful towards the end. Creating an Excel sheet with all the internships you want to apply for is a great way to keep track of all your activity. My excel sheet featured the internship listing link, location, pay rate, date applied, what I sent with my application, date contacted by company, who I was contacted by and if I was/was not offered the internship. Not only is this a great way to keep track of all your hard work, but it’s a good visual for you to see how much work you’ve done, and still need to do. Nothing is worse than realizing you forgot to send in a writing sample or return a call from two weeks ago. It also can serve as great starting point when you go to apply for internships the next season/year.
Quality always beats quantity.
Does it matter that you applied to 30+ internships if everything you sent out was done poorly? Applying to a large amount of internships is great, but only if you are putting in the same time and effort into the last cover letter that you put into the first one. If you’re at the point where you are considering using a generic cover letter, then it’s probably time to stop. You only get one first impression with companies so you want to make sure it’s the best one to you have. Working hard is awesome, accidently sending the wrong cover letter because your exhausted is not.
I know the title of this promised a number so I’ll give you one: 14. That’s how many internships I applied to for the summer 2014 season. When I look back I think 14 was a little much, but it was the number I felt comfortable with. You may, and should, have your own number. It might be more and it might be less, but as long as it’s what you’re comfortable with, it’s a good number. The most important part of applying for internships is being true to you. In your resume, in your cover letters, in your interviews. Do what you are comfortable with and the rest will fall into place.