Expert Tips For Nailing the Perfect Summer Internship


Published: April 15, 2010

Summer is on its way, and if you are like some goal-driven students, you are on the lookout for that perfect summer internship. Although bonding with the family, hanging at old high school hotspots and soaking up the sun can be fun, you’re Fordham students! You value education and a good challenge. But where do you begin the overwhelming chore of finding that ideal internship? While setting out to find an internship can be a daunting task, focusing on the following three main steps will ensure that you’re on the right track: the search, the resumé and the interview.

Search: Where to look?

• Job Central. The system offered through Career Services allows Fordham students to access tons of job and internship postings. It is easy to use and very effective when you’re feeling overwhelmed with where to begin your search. Holly Rotchin, assistant director of Career Services, said, “I always tell students it’s a cheat sheet: it says exactly what they need from you. Take a print out, highlight it and feed it back in your application.”

• Career Services. “When it came to searching for the internship, I did a lot of online research for about two months. But I got really lucky when I visited Fordham’s Career Services,” said Ryan Harrington, FCLC ’11. “They had a brochure from Merrill Lynch available. The woman working at Merrill Lynch who posted the ad was a Fordham alum. About a week later I had the internship.”

• Craigslist.  Ashley Breunich, FCLC ’12, said, “I went on Craigslist. I sent a resumé and I met the owner of a magazine for an interview. I think I was lucky; it’s a good place to go.”

•Talk to people, make connections and be observant of job listings around campus, the city and e-mails from Career Services.

• Be open to every opportunity. Alyson Cermak, FCLC ’12, said, “I would apply to as many as possible. The more places you look to apply, even if they don’t hire, can get you more interviews and more contacts. Even if I didn’t get what I applied for, they referred me to others.”

Resumé: What should it say?

Rotchin offers the following suggestions for creating the perfect resumé that would make any employer eager to meet you.

• Be concise. You want your resumé tight and to the point.

• Spin your experiences to fit the mold that they are looking for. Tailor your experiences to the job and emphasize transferable skills.

• “Provide detail! The more you put, the more in culture you seem. The more descriptive, the better,” Rotchin said.

• Drop all the right words to show you know the industry; use the lingo wherever you can.

• Don’t be redundant.

• “Stay consistent,” Rotchin said. “Keep the same format throughout the document.”

• Don’t separate volunteer work from regular work.

• “Make sure that it’s a one-page resumé,” Harrington said. “Also, it’s great to put the most relevant experiences at the top of the resumé. I got my internship because of my previous office clerical work,  which I listed first.”

Interview : How to prepare

Rotchin also provided some tips for nailing the interview that will inevitably follow the submission of your incredible resumé.

• “You have to know three things,” Rotchin said. “Industry trends, what sets this company apart and self-awareness.”

• Show you are a perfect fit. What can you bring? What strengths can you contribute?

• “To prepare, do the research, including introspection,” Rotchin said.

• Dress professionally. “Make sure you dress in a suit. It’s better to leave a good first impression,” Harrington said.

• Show up a few minutes early.

• Show you know the culture of that organization.

• “It doesn’t hurt to know about whom you are working for,” said  Jake Leonen, FCLC ’11, who held an internship with New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “Before the interview I followed up on Gillibrand’s Web site looking for her positions and things I could be interested in. I also had to make a point to put my political beliefs on the backburner knowing that I am in the position to learn from the internship as opposed to changing the institution.”

• “Don’t speak unless spoken to. I realize it’s better not to interrupt the interviewer. Also, have a confident posture. But try not to come off cocky. Confidence goes a long way in succeeding in the interview process,” Harrington said.