As a marketing student in college, you have a lot of career options ahead of you. But with this flexibility comes complexity – especially when it comes to finding your dream summer marketing internship.
Each company has a different timeline. Each industry has unique expectations. Each marketing specialization requires specific skills. In other words, you really have to develop a game plan if you want to get that perfect summer job.
But with enough work, you can intern at any company you want. Take a look at the guide below on how you can get your most ideal summer marketing internship.
Assess your professional marketing interests
As a college student, you don’t have to have it all figured out – but you should have an idea of where your interests lay. Are you more creative or analytical? Do you prefer working with a lot of people or collaborating with just a few? Do you want to focus on strategy or content creation?
Keep asking yourself these kinds of questions. They will enable you to better understand your career aspirations and what you hope to get out of a summer internship. Remember: many companies recruit summer interns for their full-time roles, so you want to spend time figuring out where you see yourself working.
Make a list of potential companies
Now that you have an idea of your interests, think about how this translates to the kind of companies you want to work for. For example, if you’re interested in the tech space, create a list of tech companies you want to work at – such as Google, Facebook, Snap, and more.
To really maximize your efforts, try developing a list of 20-25 top companies. At big firms, recruiters deal with hundreds of applicants every day – so you should look at a large group of companies for opportunities.
When writing your list, you might feel tempted to avoid any highly popular companies. But don’t let imposter syndrome get in the way. You should aim high always.
Start networking with professionals at top companies
If you want to intern at top places like Google, Facebook, and Amazon, you need to put your best foot forward months before the application even opens. Otherwise, it’s a shot in the dark.
Unless you have unheard-of experience and a stellar resume, applying without networking will not work out for you. You want to start building professional connections with marketers at your top companies as soon as possible.
Check out our extensive guide on networking as a marketing student – and be sure to spend the majority of your time on this step.
Follow up with your connections frequently
If you end up having a great informational chat with a professional, make sure you follow up with them. For example, if you see something in the news related to their company, send it over and provide some thoughts.
Why? You need to foster genuine connections. Marketers will especially know if you only speak with them to get something. Make an effort to talk with them about industry topics and their professional lives. People love talking about themselves – and you should attune yourself to always talking about them.
Optional: work on a marketing project over the summer
In an ideal world, we would all have marketing internships as freshmen and sophomores. But it can be really difficult for sophomores to secure summer internships. In fact, a lot of big companies require you to be a junior before consideration. And sophomore programs at firms are extremely competitive.
In light of this, it might be helpful to work on a side project related to your top companies. For example, if you hope to work in social media marketing, consider starting an Instagram or Twitter account to flex your social media skills.
By starting your own venture, you demonstrate to companies your willingness to learn and your entrepreneurial spirit. You will stand out among your peers who may rely on their high grades to get internships. Check out our article on five ways you can stand out as a student marketer for projects you can start today.
Alternatively, you can also brush up on marketing skills by taking online marketing certifications – here’s a guide to help you get started.
Create a CV before writing your resume and cover letter
When you start applying for internship roles, you will find yourself tailoring your resume and cover letter for every role. Therefore, you need to track your accomplishments and skills in a single document so you remember everything.
Consider creating a CV, or curriculum vitae, before typing out your resume and cover letter. A CV contains the entire history of your previous roles, projects, skills, and accomplishments. Think of it as a tracker you can easily reference when editing your resume.
Typically, you will not submit your CV when applying for marketing internships – so feel free to include as much as possible. The more skills and accomplishments you have listed, the easier it will be when you start applying to roles.
When writing out accomplishments, try to incorporate numbers when possible. You typically want to lay out your resume’s bulleted points using the STAR method, which stands for situation, task, action, result. For example, a candidate might include the following on their resume:
- “Wrote 33 Instagram posts to promote new product during company downturn, selling over 350 units in less than two weeks”
Companies want to see results – so avoid listing out vague tasks you do at work. Always focus on how your role bettered an organization or school club.
Have your school’s career center review your materials
Once you have your CV set up, create a sample resume for your school’s career center to review. Let them know of the industries you plan on applying to and ask them for advice. You want to make sure your resume reflects your passion and relevant expertise – and your university’s career center can help you accomplish that.
Ask your connections for a referral
Remember those connections you made over the summer? Here’s where they can really help you out.
You’re likely going against hundreds of applicants for a single role – but how many of them have a meaningful connection who can vouch for them? Probably only a few. You now need to ask your connection if they would be willing to refer you for a summer internship role.
Rather than asking everyone you met with, consider reaching out to someone you feel could help you out the most. This could be someone who works on the team you want to intern with. Maybe this is someone you developed a friendship with over the summer.
Before applying, tailor your resume and cover letter
You have your CV. You have your list of companies. You have your referrals. It’s finally time to start applying to roles – but first: you must tailor your resume and cover letter to the internship description.
Look at specific keywords in the description – what kind of candidate do they want? If it emphasizes collaboration, make sure your resume reflects that. If they mention specific skills such as Search Engine Optimization or graphic design, include that in your resume.
Recruiters want to see you apply for the internship with intention. Moreover, some companies use artificial intelligence to screen resumes for keywords. In other words, if you don’t tailor your resume, your application might get rejected before a human can look at it.
Do I have to write a cover letter?
Unless a company’s application explicitly tells you not to submit a cover letter, you should always write one. It demonstrates you have spent time thinking about how your experience makes you a suitable candidate for the internship. If a recruiter had to choose between candidates with equivalent experience, a cover letter can make a meaningful difference.
Apply, apply, apply
Once you have everything ready to go, you can start applying to roles using your tailored resume and cover letter. Remember to double-check to ensure your application has no typos. If a question asks for a referral, be sure to mention them if you have one.
Beyond your target companies, you should also apply to other roles you can see yourself doing. For example, rather than sticking with the tech industry, you might send applications to marketing roles in entertainment or consulting. Since internships attract a lot of candidates, you want to put your eggs in a lot of baskets.
Ace the interview using the STAR method
If you get an interview, congratulations – now it’s time to flex your interpersonal communication skills.
The STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method, a tried-and-true formula for giving effective answers, should act as the foundation of every story you tell in an interview. For example, if an interviewer asks you to tell them about a time you failed, you would start with the situation, followed by the task, action, and, most importantly, the result.
To understand your interview answers, recruiters need context – they want to get an idea of the situation. As an example, you might say your marketing team had to deal with a lot of budget cuts during your internship. Or you might describe a challenge you faced as a marketer.
Next, you want to tell the interviewer what the situation meant for you. In other words, what did you have to do as a result of the situation? Did a challenge require you to find a specific solution? You want to let your interviewer know your thought process when assessing situations.
You just finished describing your task, or plan. Now you need to tell the interviewer what you actually did. Did you follow through with your original plan? Did you do anything else? What steps did you take to address the situation and task at hand?
Finally, you want to mention the result of your actions. Recruiters will pay particular attention to this part as they want to see how you made an impact in your previous roles and projects. Did your solution help the company generate sales? Did your actions result in getting the marketing team more visibility?
When possible, try to incorporate numbers into your results. For example, you could say your marketing campaign resulted in a 33% engagement rate and 435 interactions.
Putting it all together
Not sure what a STAR answer might look like? Take a look at the example below:
S: “In my previous internship, we had to get more people to apply for a role on our marketing team.”
T: “As a result, I had to figure out how we could best market this role to prospective candidates – potentially through a social media campaign.”
A: “I spoke to my manager about a potential idea on leveraging our LinkedIn presence – and she agreed on it. I then went ahead and developed the strategy for a set of 10 LinkedIn posts around a trending topic to attract more candidates.”
R: “At the end of the campaign, we drove over 1,000 visits to our portal and more than 175 applicants.”
The STAR method enables recruiters to easily follow your train of thought. They can clearly see four critical parts in how your experiences make you a great candidate.
When juggling multiple offers, check back on your professional goals
To make a decision, you can talk to your friends and family to get their thoughts and opinions. But above all else, this is your decision to make. Take a look back at your professional aspirations and pick one that aligns most with your goals. Does one pay more than the other? Does one firm offer more career growth? Would you want to work at this company after graduation?
I’m late – can I still get a good summer internship?
100% – but recruiting for large companies such as Google and Facebook starts in the early fall. If you want to intern there, the above timeline will help optimize your chances.
That said, tons of other opportunities are available to you throughout the entire year. In fact, you can apply for summer internships through the end of May if you really want to. But keep in mind: if you procrastinate on applying to internships, you might end up with a poor option.
In general, get started on applying to internships sooner rather than later. Even if marketers have greater flexibility when it comes to recruiting, you need to put in the time and effort. Get started today using the steps above and you will end up with a great internship at an amazing company.
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