Once it’s time to find a real job after you graduate, simply having completed an internship is not enough anymore. You need to really sell your experience and how it qualifies you for the job you want.
It’s essential to determine the qualities of your past internship(s) that make you the best candidate for future interviews. Here are a few ways to sell your internship:
According to the survey, 58.9 percent of students said gaining professional experience and building a portfolio was the most important part of their internship. So start there.
Make a list of the things you learned working in a professional setting. Use the list to tell real stories to answer common interview questions. These kinds of questions ask about your experience working under pressure, handling challenges, making mistakes, and leading a team. Use your internship experience to show you have positive experiences in all of these areas.
Additionally, put together a professional portfolio to showcase all of the physical work you’ve completed in your internships. Your portfolio should highlight your accomplishments as an intern. It should include a variety work or writing samples to showcase your skills (types of samples will change depending on your industry). You might also include certificates, testimonials, letters of recommendation, and references. Once your portfolio is complete, it can be used as a great supplement to your responses in future interviews.
According to a survey from NACE, employers said 57.9 percent of their interns spend their work time on a combination of analytical/problem solving (35.9 percent) and project management (22 percent).
Again, it’s important to showcase these experiences in interviews. You can highlight your analytical and problem solving by discussing more success stories. Talk about a specific time when you saw a problem, took action, and fixed it. It’s important to use the STAR method to touch on the situation, task, action, and result.
Project management is simple to demonstrate once you’ve got the STAR method down. Use these experience to showcase your leadership skills. This part is essential because 87 percent of employers value leadership qualities in job candidates.
Also from the NACE survey, employers said 19.1 percent of internship time is spent on communications. This is another highly valued skill among interviewers. Be sure to point out your experience with effective communication. This can also be demonstrated in your job search materials like your resume and cover letter.
Finally, the NACE survey also showed 12.2 percent of intern time is spent on logistics and 8.9 percent of time is spent on administrative tasks. Organization is not talked about as frequently as the other soft skills, but it is equally important to have. Be sure to touch on your organization skills in your interview.
Internships should be your prime source of experience in real-world job interviews. From internships, you’ve gained professional experience, meat for your portfolio, problem solving skills, project management experience, communication, and organization skills. Set yourself apart in interviews by highlighting all of these qualities. You’ll prove to be the most well-rounded and qualified candidate for the job.
Heather R. Huhman is a Glassdoor career and workplace expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets
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