How to successfully get an internship or job

An illustration of a person sitting at a desk, stressing out in front of their computer.
Illustration by Amelia Madarang

During their college careers, many students find themselves struggling with resumes, cover letters and interviews. While the process can be confusing, there are a couple of things that students should keep in mind when beginning to look for internships or jobs, according to Associate Director of the Career Center Nina Olken. 

“Anywhere that has open advertised positions, anything that seems interesting to you,” Olken said. “I encourage you to apply for it even if you do not feel you are 100% qualified for it.”

Another strategy that students can use when looking for a job is to build their professional network.

“You have a community of LC alumni who are out there ready and willing to help you,” Olken said. 

Olken explained that to find LC alumni, all a student has to do is sign up on LinkedIn or Handshake through the college website. There, they can find LC alumni that are willing to help them build their professional network.

“Finding and applying for these open positions and building your professional network, doing those two things in tandem can yield the best results,” Olken said.

Once a student finds a position that they would like to apply for, they need to take the next step of building their resume and writing their cover letter. 

“There is no right or wrong way to do a resume,” Olken said. “There are just things that we know to be more effective. That’s what we base our suggestions on.” 

One of the strategies that both Olken and Lila Khammash ’23, a peer career advisor, suggest is to have a comprehensive resume. This is a resume with all of your experiences and accomplishments in one document. Depending on the application you apply for, you can remove parts of this larger resume and only include information relevant to that specific position.

“The way to make anything stand out is that you are going to have a unique resume and cover letter for every single position you apply to,” Olken said. 

All resumes should be one page and should list work experience in reverse chronological order. It should include a heading that has your name and contact information, an education section and a section for relevant skills and information. Even if you have not graduated from college, you should put your future degree next to the date you plan to graduate. At the end of your resume you will also need to include specific skills — try to focus on ones that are quantifiable such as languages, computer skills and lab skills. All other skills should be in the bullet point format on your resume. 

“I think that one thing that is very important is always showing the results of your work,” Khammash said. “It’s not enough to talk about the position you had or the experience that you were involved in.”

Another important piece often submitted with a resume is a cover letter. The cover letter should list more than what is on your resume. Companies and organizations want an example of what you can offer them through your own experiences. 

Although resumes and cover letters are important, they are only part of the process of successfully getting a job or internship. 

“Rarely are people hired based on their resume and cover letter,” Olken said. “The resume and cover letter is to get you the interview.” 

Interviews are often different now due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as many of them are conducted through Zoom. 

Khammash explains that being prepared for your interview is very important, and that you should have a clean, organized background and wear professional clothes when Zooming in. 

“Talking to career counselors or to peer career advisors to conduct an interview would probably be super helpful because they know what they are doing and they know what type of questions might come up,” Khammash said. 

The most important thing, according to Khammash, is to not get discouraged if you do not get the position you apply for. Just keep putting yourself out there. Furthermore, there are many resources and people at LC that are willing to help you along the way. 

“Not all jobs are made for everyone, and if a door closes then another one is going to open,” Khammash said. 

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