by Fiona Rose Beyerle
Some may think landing an internship or job in college is impossible unless you have a stellar grade point average (GPA), outside connections, or amazing experiences. However, this is not true! Very few people are extremely impressive in every quality. Think of it this way: you are not better or worse than your competitors; you simply offer different qualities. Sometimes you may not be what employers are looking for, but that does not mean you are not talented. I will be the first to admit that my GPA is not stellar and I came in with no connections or relevant experiences in my field when I started looking for my first internship at my university. Still, here are a few tips I have used that helped me land an internship in a lab my first quarter at my university, an undergraduate job in the health field, and some other opportunities!
- Always be open to any and all opportunities.
This is KEY! Too many times when talking to my peers about gaining job experience, I hear someone say they are “waiting for the perfect opportunity.” Being open to many different opportunities will open doors for you. Waiting for one experience you think is “perfect” limits your potential. By choosing to wait for said experience, you may be missing out on other amazing experiences to help you grow not only in your field of interest but as a person. I am not saying that you should take absolutely any opportunity that comes your way, but when opportunities come to you, even if they seem trivial, give them a chance. Do you have an opportunity to work in a lab, but it’s not exactly what you want to study? Give it a shot! Working in one lab could be the stepping stone to get to the kind of lab you want to work in.
2. Always bring a notebook to an interview.
This is not my own idea, but I read this online somewhere and have been shocked at how rarely people actually do this. I am not joking when I tell you that at my last job interview (I got the job, by the way), I brought a notebook and the interviewers spent five whole minutes talking about how impressed they were that I actually brought a notebook and how I was the only person they interviewed for the job that did so. That may sound so minor, but trust me when I say that the small things add up! Showing a lot of interest in the job and bringing a notebook to write down questions or notes about the job will demonstrate how dedicated you are. People will notice!
(Bringing a notebook and taking notes during an interview is sure to gain you respect).
3. Always bring a book on another subject to your interview.
This one may sound a little peculiar but I have actually found that this tip is a great way to showcase your diverse interests and skills. Employers and colleges desire well-rounded individuals, but it can sometimes be difficult to discuss other interests and talents in a short interview. I am a biological sciences major and art history minor and at all my interviews, the interviewers are always interested in hearing about my strengths in both seemingly different subjects. However, this does not always come up in conversation during the interview. Because of this, I bring an art history book to the interview. By reading it while I wait and placing it next to me during the interview, it is another opportunity for employers to notice and ask about it. Try it!
4. Always write a letter of intention.
When applying for a job or internship, sometimes the company will ask you to write a letter of intention, which is essentially a small essay explaining why you want the job and what you can bring to the company. However, not everything you apply to will directly ask for this. Write one anyways! Demonstrating your desire to get this job will not hurt you. I often write about my previous applicable experiences, life goals, and how this opportunity will help me reach those goals. Be as clear as possible about why you think you are a good fit for the position and company. Employers will be impressed that you went the extra mile to show how much you want this position.
(By writing a letter of intention, you prove your interest in the position).
5. Never underestimate yourself!
In your life, you have probably heard the saying, “don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” This can be a good reminder for those who are sometimes overly optimistic; however, if you are like me, you may find it easy to doubt yourself when competing with others who may seem like a better fit for the position than you. When you catch yourself thinking negatively after an interview or when you are waiting on a response from a job, pause and remind yourself that everything will be okay. You are worth more than you think, and no one job (or loss thereof) will be the end all be all. Be confident and open-minded when applying, and do not count yourself out before anything happens. You will not be sure if you are chosen for the position unless you try.
Thank you for reading my tips and I hope you find these useful for your next job interview or application process! As always, opportunities are around you if you do some digging and never give up! You got this!