The Do's and Dont's of Landing a Summer Internship

A few weeks back, I wrote about my first time on the other side of the table at the Champlain College Career Fair. You can read about it here. My co-worker and I talked to students the entire time and I kept my eyes open for a summer marketing intern. Suffice to say, it was a blast. Back at the office, I reviewed the resumes. Side note: after you take someone's resume, make sure to write notes on it so you remember who the person was. Otherwise, it's a shot in the dark. I wrote "beanbags" on one of the resumes and instantly remembered the conversation I had with one student.

I selected several students for interviews and a couple of them followed through. After three interviews the following week, I had mixed feelings about the process.

And that's when it hit me: Students need interview help.

That's what inspired today's post. I want to go over my 3 do's and 3 dont's of internship interviews. I realize I'm a rookie interviewer, but now that I've been on both sides of the table, I feel I'm able to expect a few things. Maybe it's my high standards, maybe not.

Let's get to the list.

The Do's

Think Out of the Box

I think outside the box every day. And I believe interns should have the same creative problem-solving ability as the full-time team. That's why I ask curve ball questions. My favorite: "If you could be any piece of silverware, which would you be and why?" I got a smile out of every interviewee - and three completely different answers: fork, knife, and chopsticks. Chopsticks was an answer I hadn't considered. It's that kind of out-of-the-box thinking that gets you noticed.

Send a Thank-You Note

I could write an entire post on this. Apparently some people have, arguing the thank-you note is dying. I disagree with anyone who says the thank-you note is dying. It's one of the nicest gestures you can do - and it takes a couple of minutes. Two out of three interviewees sent thank-you notes. One was timely and the other was too late to make an impact. These days, an email will do, however I'm blown away when I receive a hand-written thank-you note. Sticking with email? Make sure to send it within 24 hours of your interview.  And proofread! Typos are embarrassing.

Turn Class Projects Into Experience

When you're a student, I understand you may not have experience. But, you do. You work on class projects every semester. While they're not internships, they provide valuable experience to apply to an internship. Here's how to do it: on your resume, define the project, the role you played, and the project's impact on the company you worked with. Talk about your team's dynamic, leadership skills, and how you would have done the project differently. It's a true skill to turn class projects into applicable experience - and a way to fill up your resume if it's looking light.

The Dont's

Don't Be Over-Confident

You're not good at everything. Your team would have made it through without you. It's ridiculous to sabotage other people. If you're going to be over-confident, back your claims up with experiences. How are you good at everything? How much experience do you have in "writing your entire life?" Give me something tangible to work with, because no one is good at everything. And saying you're a quick learner (when you don't know something) is like saying you're on Facebook. Bottom line: Back up confidence with experience...and stories. I love stories.

Don't Show a Lack of Interest

Only interview if you're truly interested in the position. I know it's an over-used word, but you've got to show passion for the position. I want to know you're willing to read books, blogs, ask questions, and absorb information. Just getting an internship to "pad your resume" is a red flag. You have to want something out of it - not just the power to name-drop where you've interned.

Don't Dress Inappropriately

Before I go all Leave it to Beaver on you, I believe there is a place for provocative dress. And there is a place for suits. Where I work, I don't think there's a place for either. When you read our Why Work Here page, it mentions large white boards, pink flamingos, hackathons, and cookies. We don't come to work in suits. Not to mention, they're not comfortable. Our interviews are laid back. So, how do you figure out appropriate dress? Research your company and get a feel for the culture - look for pictures of the team. What are they wearing? Wear something a little nicer than that and you'll be golden. Remember, what you wear is a much an interview question, as the slew you're going to get asked when you sit down.

There could definitely be more do's and dont's, but I want to turn it over to you guys because I know I've got a lot of readers who have completed a good amount of interviews. What are your do's and dont's?