Gaining an Internship at Top Tier Companies

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December 7th, 2010

Many companies, including some of the top in the nation, regularly take on interns. Not only is it a way for these organizations to save money on employee salary costs, there is the potential for current professionals to connect with students interested in becoming a part of that particular field. Companies look for close to the same qualities in an intern as they would their entry-level candidates, but the thing about applying as an intern is the fact that companies may be more willing to take a risk on you, if you seem especially motivated. It is also advantageous to try your luck with an internship at some of the top companies now, before just being another resume in the job-seeker flood. So, use timing to your advantage and get in the door.

Two of the most significant attributes of a stellar candidate are personal drive and motivation to learn. A high GPA and challenging course load will make you an excellent candidate for an internship. When applying, highlight your academic achievements and the different ways you have stretched yourself to learn and grow. If you have taken outside courses pertaining to your interests, studied in different countries, or participated in seminars or special programs within your department, include those things. Also, highlight your leadership roles, no matter how small, as they are a great indication of drive to succeed and ability contribute to an organization.

Companies will also look at an applicant's potential for future employment in that company. Companies ultimately want the time they spend with an intern to benefit them, as well. A chosen candidate will most likely have proven interest in the industry, demonstrated through related coursework or individual projects. It is beneficial to have built up some kind of portfolio related to the industry. If you are applying as an intern for a graphic design company, be prepared to show them some of the work you've done in your classes. Even if you have never done graphic design before, bring in sketches or other art as an example of your interest and potential.

After drive and interest, companies look for the basic characteristics needed to succeed in any professional environment. Interviewers will look for people who are responsible, good communicators and able to multitask. You should try to enhance the parts of your resume that demonstrate those qualities. For instance, if you were asked to do even something small, like helping your professor keep track of lab equipment, include it on your resume as indication of a superior's trust in your abilities. Although, during an internship, many of these characteristics will be applied more to getting correct coffee orders than major leadership roles, if you demonstrate the ability to responsibly multitask and communicate effectively no matter what you do, you will stand out in the minds of superiors.

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