Enter the Internship: Tips for Getting Your Foot in the Door

Published October 2, 2017

Industry professionals and Career Development advisors weigh in on what you’ll need to land an internship position – from resume dos and don’ts to interview etiquette and everything in between.

Although most students and graduates would typically prefer to land an official full-time position, internships can be a great way to get connected to an organization internally. Whether you’re looking for long term growth or just to gain experience, an internship can provide you with the chance to network, gain a better understanding of a company’s culture, get insight to the company’s benefits, hear other employees’ feedback, and decide if the company is a right fit for you. 

But the first step is getting your foot in the door. And in most cases, getting on a company’s radar starts with the resume. When applying for an internship position, it’s important to research the company to help determine which resume format style will work in your favor. Taking the time to read and follow the application directions thoroughly prior to submitting your resume is also crucial. 

“Have professionals – whether they be instructors or Career Development Advisors – review your resume for spelling and grammatical errors,” says Rachele Travaglini, Career Advisor, Business in Full Sail University’s Career Development department. “You may be your own best critic, but others will see things you may have missed.” 

Rachele also points out that there’s no need to worry that you don’t have enough relevant content on your résumé, as Career Development is available to work with you to tailor your industry experience to the internship lead. 

“I have found that most of my students and alumni don’t give themselves enough credit for all the work they have done over the years,” she says. “At the same time, you don’t want to embellish. Be truthful, but creative in your content.” 

Once you’ve made it to the interview stage, all of the normal etiquette that you would consider for any type of job interview can be applied. Dress professionally, show up at least ten minutes prior to your scheduled appointment, and bring your polished résumé along with references on a separate sheet of paper. Beyond those professional standards, it’s also important to play an active role in the interview process by asking meaningful questions – not just to demonstrate your interest to the interviewer, but also to help you determine whether or not the position is ideal for you. 

Rachele recommends bringing a list of questions to ask the interviewer not just about their journey with the company, but also the next steps in the hiring process. Career Development Vice President Tammy Elliot also stresses that the information that you learn about the position (both through your questions and additional research that you complete prior to the interview) are absolutely essential. 

“Sometimes these internships are the only way to get your foot in the door [of a company],” says Tammy. “And my response to students is always, ‘you best be sure that you want to be on the other side of that door.” 

A great way to determine whether or not you want to end up with the internship position at a particular company is to reach out to those who have previously held that position. Advanced Entertainment Law Course Director Cassi Willard, Esq. suggests searching for people on LinkedIn who have interned at the company you’re interested in, and asking them about their experience. 

“Make sure you vet whatever opportunities you have very thoroughly, because not only is it your first experience in the industry potentially, but it is also now a line on your resume,” says Cassi. “It may not be an affiliation you want and it may not be an opportunity worth forgoing something else that’s already out there.” 

Again, Career Development can be a great resource for those wondering the best practices for finding the right internship, optimally preparing their resumes, and making the best first impression on an interview. 

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