Image Credits: Courtesy of the author
While 2019 may have just begun, and you are likely buried in piles of snow, summer internship applications have opened with deadlines quickly approaching! Whether you are applying for an internship with a Congressman or Senator, in the media, or for a campaign, internship applications can become a heavy burden without advanced planning. Here are some helpful tips and tricks for putting together a strong internship application that is sure to land you the job!
1) Avoid the cookie-cutter answers.
Often, internship applications involve essay or short answer questions that allow those choosing summer interns to get to know you on a more personal basis. These questions may be policy based, pertaining to your personal internship or employment history, or even fun questions to discover your personality. It’s easy to answer these questions with the answers you think the committee wants to hear, but challenge yourself to provide an uncommon answer that reveals more about you as an applicant than the fact that you are a young passionate politico. For example, one short answer question featured on one of my summer internship applications related to which American historical figure I admired and why. As a conservative applying for an internship with a Republican elected official, I am sure that you can see why thousands of applicants unoriginally answered “Ronald Reagan.” To make your application one to remember, answer questions with a unique viewpoint and perspective, rather than what you can safely assume the bulk of applicants will answer.
2) Choose your recommendation letters carefully.
If your internship application requires letters of recommendation, it is important to choose who writes each letter carefully. If you are still a high school or college student, it may be helpful to choose a professor or academic advisor who can speak to your commitment to academic excellence inside and out of the classroom. Prior employers or supervisors from previous internships are a great choice as well, as these individuals can speak to your previous experience in a professional work environment and commitment to your position. Most importantly, choose recommendations who can speak to who you truly are and how you shine in your respective community.
3) Clean up your resume.
There is an unspoken rule for professional life–all resumes should be no longer than one page. Period. It seems impossible to fit all of your cumulative leadership, employment, and academic experience onto a single page, but trust me, it can (and should!) be done. If you are a college student or graduate, one way to shrink your resume is by cutting sections from high school or before. Unless you were a national merit scholar or obtained an honor of comparable stature, it is safe to assume that elements of your resume from high school may just be taking up space. Consider using bullet points under each subheading for leadership or employment experience rather than paragraphs–this can also be a space saver and will make your resume appear less cluttered.
4) Get interview-ready.
Some internship programs offer interviews to every applicant, others may only offer interviews to a select few or to none at all. Regardless, it is always important to be “interview-ready” to land your dream internship. Practice in an interview setting with a friend, family member, or mentor by answering questions about your previous experience, why you are passionate about the specific program(s) you have applied to, and what you can bring to the organization as an intern that sets you apart. With a few practice interviews, you’ll be ready for the real thing in no time!