Landing an Internship

Warmer weather, longer days, school is out and internship season has begun. Internships have become a must for college students across most majors, and with many employers expecting that new hires come in with some real world experience, internship competition is fierce. Federation’s NEXTGen Detroit in partnership with JVS offers an internship assistance program designed to help college students land the right summer internship. And while nothing beats a sit down with one of our professionals, here are the top 5 tips from NEXTGen Detroit’s employment team for finding and getting a great summer internship this year.


1. Take an honest look at your resume.

Does it need some help? Is it accurate? Are you singing your own praises loud enough, or a little too loud? A resume is not etched in stone, in fact, it should be revised based on the internship or job you’re going after. Tailor it, update it, enlist a second set of eyes, and for heaven’s sake, run the spell check. P.S. NEXTGen offers resume writing assistance and JVS has some great online resources.


2. Don’t have your mom apply for you.

You can laugh, but it happens all the time. You want the internship, you go after it, and let mom (or whoever) be your biggest fan — not your personal assistant. Emails, cover letters, phone calls — they should all come from you and only you. If they don’t, it is a big, red flag for potential employers.


3. Do your research.

Just because you’re looking for a marketing (or financial, law, non-profit, etc.) internship doesn’t mean any ole marketing (or fill-in-the-blank) internship is a good fit. Do some detective work and read through companies’ websites, LinkedIn profiles, even Facebook pages to see if the work and company culture is something you want to learn from and is right for you. Take a look at companies’ employee rosters and your own personal and professional networks to see if you have a connection there who could help you land an interview. Once you’re scheduled for an interview, make sure to research who is interviewing you! Know the company history, its mission and products/ services so you can give informed answers during your interview.


4. Follow through.

If you contacted someone regarding an internship or a job and haven’t heard back, follow up! Everyone is busy, and you may need to send a friendly note. In addition to reminding a potential employer that they owe you an email, it also shows that you’re proactive and really want the position. On the flip side, if you tell an employer that you will get back to them, you better get back to them! Don’t leave a potential connection hanging, because whether or not you get this specific internship, this person could be a great individual to have in your network. After you’ve interviewed or met with an employer, always send a thank you note! But not a fruit basket, that’s just excessive.


5. Practice your “professional voice.”

We talk to our friends one way, our families another way, and our bosses a completely different way. Developing and getting comfortable with the professional voice that you’ll use in phone calls and interviews (and hopefully while you’re working the internship of your dreams) is incredibly important. Practice in the mirror. Go over common interview answers, greetings and how to say Pam. And be mindful of your “likes” and “ums” and “you knows.” Because you know, like when you use too many “ums” it can like be distracting, you know.

To learn more about NEXTGen Detroit’s internship assistance program or to schedule an interview with one of our employment coordinators, email Lauren Kepes at, and GOOD LUCK!