We all know recruiting season is extremely stressful. The process of hunting for internship opportunities online can be overwhelming and the moment you see a position you want to apply to, you’re probably already tailoring your resume and cover letter.
I was in the state of trying to find the perfect summer internship that aligned with my career objectives as closely as possible, preferably at a tech company that was going to give me great mentorship as well. Rejections are difficult and after a few of them, you start to feel less confident about your decisions and who knows, you may even begin to doubt your abilities as a candidate.
Pick a skill & become a master at it
If you find yourself in my social circle during this time of the year, you would know that all I can talk about is recruiting. When I didn’t get the interview/offer, that’s when conversations got really fun.
For the friends who ask me about tech internships, my best advice has always been to pick a skill, whether that’s coding, designing, presenting, selling, etc., and get really good at it. Build a portfolio, record presentations, however you choose to sell yourself, be prepared to back it up; before your application and especially once you get an interview. Doing so makes you an attractive candidate.
Interviewers love to hear that you’re passionate about something. Anything. I once interviewed for a Business Analyst position and all I could talk about was how much I loved design. I got the offer. Always do research on the companies you’re interviewing for (duh) and read recent company news. Learn leadership principals and mission statements because this shows employers you are passionate to learn about their business. For me, my passion has always been design. I specialize in UX and dabble in visual design. I instantaneously fell in love with the very first graphics design course I took in high school. After being in business school for 2 years, I took a study abroad trip that completely changed my perspective and now I’m double majoring in Human-Computer Interaction. Whatever that passion is for you, make sure you sell it, and do it well.
Rejections are part of the process
Over the summer I was so ambitious in my search that I think I applied to about 20+ internships. From the Bay to my home in Seattle, I think I was too anxious to secure something before recruiting even began. I guess it’s always good to be prepared, but unfortunately, I only got a handful of emails back and I eventually had to move on.
This is the most difficult part of the entire process; dealing with emotions. Psyching yourself out before even applying to a position will undeniably add unnecessary stress. So just don’t do it. Don’t forget to exude the confidence you know you have from the very beginning. Recruiters and interviewers can smell confidence (and fear) from miles away.
Keep trying, even when you want to give up
‘Nuff said. Even when you think you bombed an interview, remember there are always more opportunities. And always write down as much as you can remember from your interviews. Reflecting on them (whether they went well or not) is going to be extremely helpful. Keep in mind that whatever position is offered to you is not and will not be your last.
Learn to value yourself & your time
I had a few offers throughout the beginning of October but due to time and academic constraints, I couldn’t uproot from school to intern for 6 months in another state. Some time after school had began, I finally realized that I am capable of getting the types of internships I wanted, even though I had been rejected more times than I’d like to admit. Once I started getting interviews, I got really excited and started to build a little momentum. They were the positions that I thought I didn’t have a chance of getting because so many other companies had rejected me for the same position. I eventually found myself rejecting offers, just to have those companies wanting to change my mind.
Understand that as long as you possess a skill or have a strong passion towards something, you can land that job/internship.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s no secret formula for success, but I can tell you that there are times when I thought I bombed the interview when I really didn’t. Employers want to see that you have confidence in your work (aka you know your sh**). Always be prepared to back up whatever you said you can do on your resume because interviewers are always testing to see how legit you really are. I don’t have much experience with technical/coding interviews but I can at least say that for design, interviewers want to get inside your head during design challenges. So let them. All they wanted to see was whether I could make design decisions in addition to analyzing my thinking process (very important in the design world). So my advice to you would be to always have a reasoning behind your decisions. And to be honest, I think this applies to almost every role you can apply for, not just design.
Update: I’m will be joining Google this summer as a UX Design Intern in Mountain View, CA!