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Applying for internships can be an overwhelming and confusing process. You have to first decide where you want to intern, and then often what position you want within that company, and that is all before you even think about how to creatively and intelligently answer the application questions. As someone who applied for several different internships for this summer, there are multiple lessons I found to be quite valuable when entering the internship application process.

  • Set your goals high, but be reasonable

Shoot for the stars, but have safe options as well. Similar to how most people apply to college, we all have our dream internships. We also have those that aren’t quite as much of a dream, but would still be beneficial in the end. Growing up, I was always taught to go after my dreams. Several of the internships that I applied to were ones that I looked at as dream positions. In an ideal world, this is where I would like to work. The others that I applied to were more realistic and ones that I deemed more feasible. Applying to a variety of different internships of all levels and scopes opened myself up to more opportunities. In a previous article, I expressed that you should never discount any opportunity that comes your way. I knew that no matter where I ended up this summer, I was going to be pursuing something that I had a true passion for. Regardless of the type of internship I was in, I knew that it would be a valuable experience and would impact the future of my career, even if it was at the local level.

  • Think outside the box

Sometimes it’s the internships that seem a little odd, the ones that you consider not applying to that end up being the most beneficial. Most schools have a type of career resource center that could be helpful when searching for internships initially. Even asking other people involved in your field of interest is a great way to learn about internships you may not have found while looking on your own. Internships are a wonderful opportunity to explore possible future career paths. Applying for internships that may seem a little more obscure is a perfect way to broaden the experience and exposure you receive to certain careers, prior to actually having to decide where you would like to personally end up. All of the internships I have held have been in different areas of my prospective field, each teaching me different lessons and providing me with new skill sets that will be valuable when applying for jobs after college.


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  • Think about your long term goals

An important factor to consider when choosing internships to apply for is whether or not it will benefit you professionally and personally. After all, growth is one of the most valuable results of completing an internship. While it’s important to have an enjoyable experience, as you get older and look more seriously at what the future holds, internships that have a professional advantage and will add something new to your resume become essential. Typically, internship websites or listing will have a job description. Before applying, look at both the job description of the specific position and the mission of the organization and company it’s with. Consider whether you see an opportunity for personal or professional growth in this position. If the internship doesn’t hold the opportunity for growth, consider exploring other options. You don’t have to apply to every single internship you come across. Instead pick and choose those that you see benefiting you the most in the future.

  • Be sure that it is well organized and thought out

An important aspect to any professional writing, whether it be a resume, cover letter, or application, is that it is organized and formal. This is not a text to your best friend, don’t treat it as such. Your letters and applications should be up to the same par, if not better than an email you would send to a professor. From the start, realize that this could be the most important communication you will have with your future employer and compose your writings as ones that will make a lasting impression. Sure, this may mean revising your application more than one time before submitting it, but it could also mean the difference between being selected for an interview and being passed over.

  • Be yourself, not who you think they want you to be

A lot of times, application questions are the organization’s first chance to get to know you. They want to know YOU, not the you you’re pretending to be. This means that regardless of what you believe the people reviewing the application want to read, make sure your beliefs and passions shine through your statements. Answer the application questions and go into the interview with your whole heart, showing them who you are and what sparks the fire inside of you. More often than not, one of the first compliments I receive during an interview is that they loved the level of passion that I conveyed through my application questions. This opens the door for me to expand on my passion during the interview and build a relationship with the interviewer. Pretending to be someone you’re not during the application process will only hinder you in the end. You will have built a false persona and false expectations for the company, which will have a greater chance of leading to unhappiness on the part of both parties involved. Chances are, if you are true to yourself in the application process and are happy with the message you are conveying and they don’t accept you for that, you probably didn’t want to be there anyway.


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  • Most importantly, don’t give up

Often times, especially in the political field, internships can be incredibly competitive. Don’t stop trying on the first shot. If you don’t get your dream internship the first time around, try again later. Build up your resume in the meantime. Take advantage of one of the smaller internships you may have applied to. Go into it with the motivation to get something valuable out of it. Every little experience counts and could be exactly the type of experience you need to obtain your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Regardless of the doubts and reservations that you may have, realize that putting yourself out there and taking that leap of faith to try again could be the most life changing moment you will ever experience. Don’t ever discard your dreams because they seem unrealistic or unattainable, because one day you will realize you are living the life you once thought you could only imagine.

Emily W
FFL Cabinet
Emily is an aspiring Elle Woods with a hint of Nancy Reagan. Searching for cute dogs on instagram is only a side hobby to politics. When she's not teaching people about conservatism in Starbucks, you can catch her meeting princesses at Disney or binge watching Gilmore Girls and The West Wing for the millionth time.

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