Follow these tips and your career will be headed for the stars

NEW YORK — With the end of the semester drawing near, summer internship hunting may be Syracuse University students’ number one priority. In preparation, here are some tips from Cheryl Franklin and Marisa Ramel, director and program adviser of the Newhouse in New York City semester, respectively. Each fall and spring, they help students in the program find internships to match their goals and interests.


Take advantage of the career development centers

Students should visit their respective school’s career center or the general SU Career Services department. The expert staff members know better than anyone what employers in each field are looking for, can review resumes and may even know about specific internship openings.

“Nothing you can do by showing up there will hurt you,” Ramel said. “If anything, you wasted half an hour, and I think you can deal with that.”

While some may be tempted to ignore or delete the many emails the school sends, students should break that habit and read them, Franklin said.

“Maybe sometimes they’re not important to you,” she said. “But on that off-chance that you deleted the email that had the internship you would die to have, you just lost that opportunity.”


Find other opportunities on campus

Students should go to career fairs and guest speaker events. And don’t just attend — stay after, engage with the speaker and get their contact information.

“Send a thank you note and stay in touch with that person,” Franklin said. “Because those people know people.”

Students shouldn’t shy away from seeing speakers just because they don’t directly relate to your career path.

“See who’s coming, and ask, could this help my career? Could this help me get an internship?” Franklin said. “Think long term, less short term. Maybe you’re not super excited about the speaker because it’s not exactly what you want to do, but could this lead to other opportunities.”


Think about location, but don’t let it hinder any opportunities

Sometimes it’s not possible to spend the summer in a city like New York or Washington D.C., and that’s OK. If students have to stay in a small town, that don’t shouldn’t stop them from looking for internship opportunities.

“Everyone in your town has a job, and they probably want someone to help them.” Ramel said.

The company may not have a specific internship listing, but that doesn’t mean students can’t pitch themselves. And in the age of the internet, there are opportunities to freelance or intern remotely.


Network (with literally everyone)

Students should talk to everyone they know — parents, neighbors and relatives — and mention the kind of work they’re looking for. If students are home for the summer, Ramel said they should consider reaching out to old high school teachers.


Cast a wide net, but don’t get overwhelmed

Summer internships can get very competitive, so students should apply to a variety of places, even when looking at listings for available internships may be daunting.

“I think that’s what paralyzes a lot of students,” Ramel said. “They say, ‘It’s so competitive, I’m not even going to bother. I’ll just do my part-time job I usually do during the summer and forget about it.’”

Ramel suggests an easy step before students start their internship search: Make a list of five to 10 companies or industries where they would like to work to help narrow the area of focus.


Make your resume and cover letters shine

It’s important to tailor resumes and cover letters to each job students apply to, Ramel said.

“If you use a form letter, the company will see right through it,” she said, suggesting that you reference the company’s previous work. You also want your resume to be informative and specific.

“When we guide students, we focus on highlighting the experiences they already have,” she said. “Like, if you were going to tell a friend about the coolest thing you did at your job.”

Students should also back up their resume with specific numbers and examples.

“Don’t just say that you wrote for Jerk,” Ramel said, referencing the SU student-run publication. “How often do you write for them? What do you write about?”


Don’t get too attached to one job, and don’t worry about name recognition

While students may be hoping to add a well-known company to their resume this summer, Franklin said they should never overlook opportunities at smaller places.

“Have a very open mind about getting the experience versus the place that you’re getting it at, because experience is the part that’s critical,” she said. “You could be working at some splashy name, but if you’re getting coffee all summer, working at a smaller place but doing incredible things where you’re assisting people and really making a difference in the company is better.”

And students shouldn’t discount a company just because they have never heard of it.

“Do some research. See what they do, see who they work with,” she said. “You might think it’s the best company in the world if you actually do the research. It doesn’t have to have that name recognition right away for it to be valuable, and valid and give you an incredible experience.”


Research the places before an application is submitted

If students are interested in working for a specific company, follow it on LinkedIn and social media to stay up to date with what it is doing, including any internship opportunities that may be listed.

“Like BuzzFeed, Twitter, they all actually list their internships on their sites,” Franklin said. “They’re very transparent about ‘Here’s what we have.’ So don’t just assume that (the internships) are not going to be there. Look.”


It’s not all about the applicant

Above all else, Franklin said students should always explain what they can bring to the company instead of what the company is going to bring to them.

“You can follow all these tips, and you won’t get an internship if you write in your cover letter or say in your interview, ‘This is how you’re going to help my career,’” she said, “because they don’t care.”


By Madeleine Buckley