So you are on the hunt to land your next internship. Career fairs, visits to your Career Center on campus, job sites that aggregate opportunities — chances are if you’ve been searching for an internship you have tried one or all of these methods by now. If so, kudos to you for taking action and getting started!
But what if you aren’t having any luck going through these traditional methods? Well, Good news! There are creative ways to land your next internship AND they are working for other people. Below are five creative ways you can try to give yourself a stronger chance at securing the internship.
Connect with University Recruiters and Alumni on LinkedIn
A lot of the larger companies have an entire staff dedicated to recruiting college students for internships and entry level jobs. These are the people that usually attend career fairs on your campus, but they also hang out on LinkedIn. Be proactive and connect with these people on LinkedIn so that you are on their radar when you submit your application.
Pro Tip: All recruiters hang out on LinkedIn. Have you created (or refreshed) your LinkedIn profile to showcase your skills and your desire for an internship? Get on it! Sign up for my free five-day course, LinkedIn™ on Lock!, over on the home page and I’ll show you step by step what you need to do to make your profile stand out. If you are nowhere to be found on LinkedIn when an employer searches for you, shame on you.
Or maybe you’re applying for a smaller company that doesn’t have a team of university recruiters. Well, there may be some alumni from your school that currently work there. These are great people to connect with, and if they can offer a warm referral into the company, it gives you a much better chance of landing the internship. I teach you how to use the LinkedIn alumni search tool in day five of the free LinkedIn™ on Lock! course.
Engage with Employers on Social Media
Not all social media is bad for your professional image. LinkedIn is an obvious platform that you should be using, but other platforms like Twitter can be useful as well. We’re going to focus on Twitter, because while some employers have company pages on Facebook and Instagram, chances are your personal profiles on these platforms aren’t clean enough to start drawing attention to yourself. For (obvious) example: Do NOT engage with companies on social media if you have photos posted doing keg stands at last weekend’s frat party.
Your Twitter account also needs to be professional. Go through your old posts and delete anything that you wouldn’t want a future employer reviewing. Then start building up your Twitter presence to benefit your online brand and internship search. Retweet company posts made by either the company and/or leaders at the company. Share articles you find professionally interesting. Link out to some of your creative work that is in line with the type of internship position you are hoping to secure (e.g. blog posts, websites, etc.). And finally, engage with company leaders by commenting with insightful questions or value-add thoughts to their tweets.
Showcase Your Creative Content
In the section above I mentioned linking out to your creative work on Twitter. Your creativity can come in many different forms. Perhaps you have a blog related to the industry you are hoping to build a career in. Maybe you do freelance graphic design work for small businesses in your college town. Or maybe you’ve built out some case studies for a few companies you admire. Whatever it may be, sharing your work on LinkedIn and Twitter, attaching some examples when you submit your resume and internship application and even highlighting them in the interview are all good ways to boost your chances of landing the internship.
And then there are those super creative individuals in the world who create videos like this one to land an internship with Jimmy Fallon and The Tonight Show. Bottom line, stop sitting around waiting for internships to find you, get creative and make it impossible for them to turn you down.
Create an Internship Position
Sometimes an employer may not have any internship positions posted or open within their company. Usually, these are the smaller companies. They don’t think they have the time to organize and lead interns so they don’t bother with it. However, these are the exact companies that need interns!
If you have a company in mind that you really want to intern for and they don’t have an internship position available, I urge you to create one. Draft up a job description and concisely list the reasons why you want to intern for the company and the value you can provide them. Then find the best person or department to submit the information to and send it in. Chances are this proactive action on your part will give the employer confidence in your ability to intern with them as a self-starter and a solid contributor. It’s worth a shot!
Generate and Share Value-Add Ideas
A company may have “closed” its doors on new interns during an application period, but if it is an internship you really want, then you shouldn’t close down your efforts. Try to get an informational interview with someone at the company (again, alumni are great candidates for this). Then, do your research before you meet with them.
Research and identify what big projects the company is working on or what current challenges they are facing in their industry. Craft ideas for potential solutions, and when appropriate, share these ideas during your informational interview. Alternatively, the company could have a product or service that you use. Offering valuable feedback on their product or service is another way to demonstrate your commitment to the company.
All of the above ideas require some creativity and work on your part, but nothing worth it in life comes easy. Plus, just imagine how awesome you’ll feel if you land your next internship after applying one of these creative tactics. It will be well deserved and you will be starting your new internship on a high note. Go get ’em!