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Tips & Tricks to “Kickstart” That Dream Internship

October 28, 2013

Career Kickstart [Photo courtesy of the UW Department of Communication]

Career Kickstart [Photo courtesy of the UW Department of Communication]

Last week, UW’s Communication Department launched this year’s Career Kickstart program with a panel of three experts to educate students on all things internship. Thanks to early notice from a departmental email, I was fortunate to register for the event before it quickly filled up. (So, look out for those notices! They might contain unique opportunities like this.)

The Career Kickstart program is a compilation of workshops to help guide students toward their dream careers. And for those lucky enough to have it all already figured out, it’s a great platform to network. The program offers monthly events that include panels with industry professionals, interview workshops, and resume building. The hope of the program is for every student to gain a mentor and lots of work experience before graduating. As we all know, in communications jobs it’s the experience that matters.

The panel I attended–titled “Internships! Internships! Internships!”–featured three very different speakers. Brandon Vaughan is a Senior Account Executive at Edelman. He started his work there seven years ago, working on the Xbox One account and games. The second panelist was a UW alumna– Deanna Blanchfield-Heinrich of Sinclair Broadcast Group. She works as the Director of Human Resources, based here in Seattle at KOMO-TV. Last but not least was Ruchika Tulshyan. She’s interned at Forbes magazine, Bloomberg, and CNN and recently got hired by a local start-up.

The evening was a semi-formal event for students to hear from potential employers and discuss their concerns and questions about getting the internship they wanted. The speakers talked about launching their own careers and what matters most to the people reviewing your internship application.

Panel speakers from left to right: Deanna Blanchfield-Heinrich, Ruchika Tulshyan, and Brandon Vaughan. [Photo by Valeria Koulikova]

Panel speakers from left to right: Deanna Blanchfield-Heinrich, Ruchika Tulshyan, and Brandon Vaughan. [Photo by Valeria Koulikova]

Though the guests talked about different application processes for their companies, they all emphasized one thing – the applicant’s presence in social media. It’s something I’ve heard over and over again in all of my journalism classes and now that I’m getting closer to graduation, it finally makes sense.

“I can’t stress enough having LinkedIn and Twitter accounts,” said Tulshayn. “It’s become a crucial part of the industry. For the hiring managers, if you are not present in the social media it means you don’t respect it.”

For someone like me who only uses Twitter for class purposes or to enter a movie giveaway, it’s hard to switch gears and start actively building my online profile.

Many of the students expressed worries about applying to internships or jobs without any prior experience. The speakers agreed that while job applicants with internship experience have a higher chance of getting hired, internship candidates only need to express their enthusiasm.

“Show me that you are interested!” said Blanchfield-Heinrich. “I want to see it on your resume, on your social media, and during the interview.”

Blanchfield-Heinrich was the speaker I wanted to hear from the most. Since one of my interests is broadcast journalism, she was the perfect person to talk to about prospective employment here in Seattle. It wasn’t quite what I expected.

“You gotta go to Yakima!” she said. “There is just no way around it. You have to get years of experience before you can move to a big city like Seattle in broadcast.”

After the panel was over, students could come and personally meet with the guests. Business cards were exchanged and connections made. Now, it’s just up to us to make use of them.

And while I digest the possibility of moving to Yakima, here are the experts’ Top Six Tips on getting YOUR dream internship:

  1. Tweet! Tweet! Tweet! Even if you are not planning on becoming a journalist or a PR specialist, it’s still a great way to showcase yourself and your interests.
  2. Show your passion. It should be in your cover letter. Let the hiring mangers know why you are the perfect candidate for the job.
  3. Tailor your resume. Every internship you are applying to has different job specifics. If you have experience in that area it should be the first thing on your resume. Most of the time, the reviewer does not get to the bottom.
  4. Research the employer! Know the company you are applying to, know their competitors, and the industry. Go on their website, Facebook page, Twitter, and anything else you can find. Be curious.
  5. Prepare for the interview in advance. Dress professionally and have questions for the interviewer. It might be a start-up company with employees in khakis and T-shirts but for your interview it’s better to be overdressed than the alternative. And if you don’t have questions for them they have none for you.
  6. Make connections. LinkedIn is a great way to do that. Search for potential companies and add people to your network. You never know if somebody might know somebody who knows somebody who has an internship opening.

To find out about future Career Kickstart events, click here!

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