In ninth grade, I fell face first into a high school crush. My first opportunity to show her my true feelings happened that fall, when this unfortunate soul found herself with me at the homecoming dance. I summoned the strength to ask her onto the floor, but the combination of my nerves, the venue (lots of my friends and hers around as witnesses), and my 14-year young sense of what it would take to get to a “yes” all conspired in the rejection.
Applying for an internship is a lot like asking someone to dance for the first time: packed with passion, good intentions, anxiety, and mitten-handed execution.
Here, then, is some advice on how not to spoil your enthusiasm and motivation when applying for a marketing internship.
Do: Apply for work that matches your academic and/or extracurricular interests.
Do not: Admit in your application that you don’t have relevant experience.
You will not feel tempted to write the kiss of death for any job application – “I may not have the experience you’re looking for” – if you gun for jobs that are related to your studies or on-campus jobs. If, for example, you write for the student newspaper or work for the office of public affairs, look for internships in Comms or content marketing. On the other hand, those credentials are not likely to help you get a market research internship no matter how badly you may want something like that.
Do: Write about how you’ll make the employer successful.
Do not: Write about satisfied you think you’ll be if the employer chooses you.
Let’s go back to the dating analogy. What’s the more effective strategy: telling the object of your affection that going out with you will be a good time, or saying, “You have no idea how happy you’d make me feel if you’d just go out with me?” Get it?
Do: Share your relevant work, volunteer or academic history.
Do not: Share what happened to you in 6th grade.
Make the employer’s job of assessing you easy by writing a resume and cover letter that illustrate you have relevant experience and a passion for the job and company. Anything else is a probably waste of yours and the employer’s time. Your philosophy on life, teachers or mentors who’ve inspired you, and slogans, for example, are irrelevant.
Do: Write sparingly and read your cover aloud before submitting it.
Do not: Use words with definitions you do not know or think will make you sound smart.
Mark Twain wrote, “As to the adjective: When in doubt, strike it out.” That’s especially true for adjectives that have been diluted by their overuse. Awesome, stellar, amazing, and great all mean degrees of goodness that probably don’t capture your meaning. Many people now use the word “incredible” to mean “very good.” It actually means “not credible.” Assume the people reading your application care about the words you use, and you’ll probably write more thoughtfully.
A wise man once told me, “Never try anything for the first time.” That’s because inaugural efforts often fail. Just as practicing what you’d say to the guy or gal you’d love to meet for coffee is more likely to weed out bad ideas, so, too, can preparing before you sit down at your computer to apply for marketing internships.