By Chelsie Rimel:
In the previous blog post, I examined how to search for internships. After you’ve found some positions you are interested in, the next step is to apply. The application process for most companies usually includes submitting a résumé and a cover letter. Résumés often serve as your initial contact with employers and are the most critical item in determining whether or not you will secure an interview. Essentially a résumé is a brief document that highlights your skills, knowledge, and experience. Your résumé should emphasize your strong points while expressing individuality, and it should be tailored to the types of positions you are seeking.
Example templates and formats are available in the Career Guide. While these examples go into more detail about specific portions of your résumé, I am going to discuss the most important components of a résumé:
1. At this point in your academic career, your résumé should be able to fit on one page. Use formatting, like adjusting the margins and changing the size of the font, if your resume spills over. But also be sure to look with a critical eye and ask yourself if everything on your résumé is relevant to the position you are trying to obtain.
2. Avoid including high school information. It is appropriate for first year students to include this information, but as you progress in your college career, high school information should be replaced by more recent and relevant experiences.
3. Do you have any special language or technical skills? Fluent in French? Can you write HTML? Be sure to include these in a skills section, typically found at the bottom of a résumé.
4. Do not include your references on your résumé, unless the position description specifically requires it. The employer assumes that you will provide him/her with references upon request. Bonus: this frees up a lot of space!
5. Make absolutely no formatting or typing errors. I cannot stress this enough. When there is a large applicant pool, eliminating résumés with typing errors is a quick way for employers to narrow the field.
6. Get a Career Enrichment Network staff member to review your résumé before submitting. You can upload your document and get feedback via email. An appointment with a Network staff member is always a great way to get ideas and share more about your interests and experiences; you can schedule an appointment through Network Symplicity
The other important document to include in your application is your cover letter. A cover letter is an extension of your résumé that highlights experiences that are relevant to the position while adding a personal touch. The Career Guide link above includes some guidance for drafting a great cover letter. Most importantly, remember these things when drafting your cover letter:
1. Open with a statement that captures the attention of the prospective employer. Generic or mediocre openings will not engage the reader and will not distinguish you from the applicant pool.
2. Adapt the letter to the specific details of the position. No two cover letters should be the same.
3. Draw attention to points in your resume that qualify you for the position. What makes you the best candidate? Have any leadership positions you have held given you relevant skills or experiences? Explain the situations here.
4. A cover letter is a place to highlight “soft skills” as well. Are you great at communicating, time-management, multi-tasking, or any similar skills? Include them in you cover letter.
5. Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn! Remember, a cover letter is like an advertisement. You know you’re a hard worker, efficient, and creative, now make sure the employer knows too!
6. Close your cover letter with a request for an interview.
Hooray! You’ve just completed your résumé and cover letter! Waiting to see if you’ll receive an interview can be nerve-racking, but use this time wisely to prepare for the next step in the internship process: the interview, as well as applying for more positions.
Coming Soon: Part 3: How to have an awesome interview