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What Not To Do When Applying For An Internship

What not to do when applying for an internship

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is this how you are applying for an internship

Is this how your applying for an internship?

This is a picture I took of one of the offices on the floor above us.  It’s a bunch of name cards, brochures, lunch menus and other marketing materials people have just tossed inside as their “effort” to try and get their sales up.   We probably get at least one of these tossed in our office every week, a guy who doesn’t want to get rejected in person, tosses a card between the cracks of our front doors hoping that we’ll pick it up and become that million dollar customer.  If I happen to see the materials lying on the ground on my way in or out, I usually just toss them into the trash.  My other colleagues, I’m not sure about.  At least they have a slight chance of being seen by someone.  As you can see from the picture, the office above us has been closed, at least since we set up shop in our current location over 2 years ago.  For me, it was the fact that there were no desks, no chairs, nothing other than other scraps of paper on the floor that gave it away. So why in the world would anyone throw their name card into that office and expect anything?
Exactly the same question I want to ask some of the students who are applying for an internship with us by randomly sending their resume to me by email.  Here’s one I got a few weeks back that made me think about creating this post.

Subject: application

Dear sirs,

Please accept my application.

Best regards,

That was it.  This candidate even included twenty other email addresses in CC.  She was literally just throwing her “application” into random door openings hoping for someone to hire her. The only reason I even realized that she was applying for a internship or job with us was because she had her resume attached.  This was from a 3rd year student majoring in finance.  What is it that they’re teaching students at schools these days?

First of all if your going to randomly send an HR manager an email, at least include some information in the subject that will help us quickly figure out what you want.  Some of us have lives, or at least work to do and we get tons of junk mail.  Having no subject is like throwing your resume into an empty office because no one in their right mind is going to even give it a glance.  It goes into the trash can and your email address, spam! CCing it on the other hand is like throwing it into a room full of angry sharks ready to teach you a lesson for making such a dumb mistake.  It’s 2012, haven’t you heard of blind carbon copy?

Next, sending such a short email without any title means that you are going to be that easy going, really cool, relaxed, straight to the point , shoot from the hip intern that will spend exactly one second on any assignment that they are given.  Hmm, not sure if that’s what we are looking for.  At least take the time to find out who you are sending your email to and tell the prospective hiring manager what it is you are looking for.
Here’s another one that came to me for the second time so I knew I had to include it.

Subject: Internship in Shanghai

Dear sir/maam,

My name is XXX, a graduate from XXX State University with a B.A degree in International Business Marketing, minor in Chinese language and Asia-Pacific region. I am applying for an internship in Shanghai or Hongkong.
I am bilingual in XXX, English. I have had experience in consulting sales, public relations, and event planning at international companies and student organizations. I am friendly, organized, detail-oriented, and analytical. 

Below is my resume. Shall there be any potential openings, please feel free to contact me at the information for an interview.

Best regards,

At least this one is much better than the first.  He includes a subject so I know exactly what he wants before I have to open the email.  When I open the email, the first issue appears. Although this internship candidate knows my company email address (which includes my last name), he does not take a little initiative to research a few minutes to find out who I am or what our company does and elects to go with a generic sir/maam.  If you’re not going to take the time to find out who I am, I’m not going to take the time to read the rest of your email.
With a little research he could have figured out that I am responsible for marketing and focus on seeing if I could find an internship in that area for him.  Then instead of including details that I could have found on his resume, he could have showcased a few skills he has that might be useful for a marketing internship in a company like ours in Shanghai.  By sending me a generic “I want an internship” email he does little to stand out among all the other candidates that applied for a position with us.  Don’t get me wrong, there are probably companies out there desperate to find help, waiting for that one person who happens to find their “help wanted” sign.  But you won’t find their email address online because they don’t use internet.  We’re in a recession, there are hundreds of job hunters fighting for every opening. You need to put effort, creativity and go all in to start your career and stop being like this guy:

Guy goes to his doctor and explains that he is not able to do all the chores and other things around the house that he used to do.  There’s something really wrong with him and he demands a medical check up. The doctor gives him a long and thorough examination but finds nothing wrong.
The guy then says, “look doc, I can take it, tell me what’s wrong, in plain English.”

Doctor says, “well,in plain English…. you’re just lazy.”
The guy replies, “ok, now tell me in medical terms so I can explain to my wife.”

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