marketing

The Ultimate Guide To Getting An Internship

By MarketingRevo

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This guide was written to help other marketing students (or any student in general) in their internship/job search process.

I've interviewed with a lot of different companies (Startups, SMEs and MNCs) and interned in different types of companies as well.

Hopefully this guide helps you out in securing your next opportunity!

The 3 stages of an internship application

1. Pre-application

2. Application

3. Interview

While there are interview processes that will incorporate multiple interviews, panel interviews, mega days or even asking you make a video, the general way to approach these "interviews" are generally the same.

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Pre-application

This is the phase before you even apply for an internship or full-time job. It is the preparation you do day-to-day for the position even before it even exists.

Point of internship

First, let's examine what is the point of an internship:

For the student: Learning something new, experience the working life, building your resume and securing a full-time job.

For the company: talent pipeline, extra set of hands to help, providing a fresh perspective to a problem and branding themselves to the workforce of the future.

If you managed to secure an internship with a big brand (think JP Morgan, Google, Facebook, BCG), you will have a competitive advantage over many other candidates in future internship searches and your first job search. So a good internship compounds.

Making the best out of your university

Your 3 to 4 years in university is an indication to your potential employee on what kind of candidate you are! Therefore, it is important to take part in activities that you are passionate about.

Examples of in school activities are - CCAs/club activities, community services, competitions Etc

Other value-adding activities include - starting a startup/non-profit, internships, student organizations, interesting side-projects Etc

These experiences will help you stand out as a candidate as you are more interesting.

What clubs to join?

You should ideally be in an academic club related to your area of interest (finance, marketing, consulting etc) and a non-academic club (sports, hobby, community service etc).

This again serves as a signal that you are a candidate that is interested in exploring work in [industry X]. A non-academic club serves to show your employer that you are a human being with actual interests, hobbies and passion.

Biggest question: Does my GPA matter?

Let's end the debate once and for all.

Yes. It does matter.

A higher GPA opens up more doors - scholarships, exclusive university events and some companies only hire on academic merit.

So does having a low GPA means you're screwed?

Nope! It means you will have lesser opportunities than those who are academically inclined but the activities you participate in your university life will help make up for the difference.

Do employers care about my leadership position in the knitting club?

Yes. They do. It signals that you have leadership potential. While titles such as president and vice-president are great to have, you must make sure that you are actually creating impact.

Why impact? It matters because if the club has the same outcome with or without you then it means that your presence didn't make a difference.

Leveraging your network (physical and digital)

Go for events where you get to meet professionals from companies that you're genuinely interested in. This way, you can make a better impression by asking good questions. Seek to make a genuine connection rather then adding another name to your "network".

Build a digital presence on Linkedin. Rather than using it like Facebook where you only update on major (career) milestones, make it a place where you actually engage with people from the industry. If you're brave enough, you can even ask people out for coffee chat where you can learn about the company that you're interested in joining!

Or you could just ask dad. That works well too.

Application

This is when you submit your resume. What you put in your resume and cover letter will determine what the hiring manager thinks of you and whether you get to the next stage.

Do your research.

You need to dig deep, analyse the job description given and ask yourself the following questions:

> Do I even fit this company or function? (If you hate people, maybe you shouldn't be in HR)

> Do I have the skills required? (at least on paper)

> Is this internship/job going to help me achieve my eventual professional goal?

> Will I be happy working here?

Adapt your resume

You need to adapt your resume to every job you apply for. Look at the keywords in the job description vs the key words in your resume. Do they match?

If not, what can you do to match them?

You can also try to stalk previous interns/fresh hires of the company on Linkedin to see their previous experiences and achievements. This helps you get a sensing of what type of candidates the company are looking for.

Do I write a cover letter?

I'm not a big fan of writing cover letters. But if you are genuinely interested in the company, do write one!

Some points you can cover in your cover letter:


> Have a good hook/opening to keep them reading

> Self-introduction

> People you have met who worked in the firm (if any)

> What you admire about the company

> Previous achievement that makes you perfect for role

> Identify the value you can provide to the company

> Conclusion and a strong call-to-action

Don't procrastinate in the recruitment process

Many university students like to procrastinate in the application process. More often than not, the stipulated closing date for recruitment is often too late. Many companies would have extended offer letters by then.

You must apply for the role as early as possible!

Your resume.. What's your story?

This is the most important story you're telling before you even meet the hiring manager. You need to make sure it show you in your best light.

> Include your GPA if it's relatively high (3.5 and above)

> Use strong action words

> Write in terms of achievements/impact (what difference did you make?)

> Be detailed/numbers - increase sales is great but increasing it by x% is even better.

> Proofread and make sure your resume is readable.

Question: What if the task was performed by a team?

My answer: Is this your resume or your team's resume? Focus on yourself! The only time you need to highlight any team effort is when it showcase your collaborative skills.

SMU students: Check out: https://www.vmock.com/smu

It gives you feedback on how you can improve your resume.

Telling your story in a page

Your resume is like a story. Your story signals to the hiring manager what kind of employee you might be.

For example, if you have leadership positions, they might perceive you as someone who is proactive. If you studied at university X, they may think back previous university X graduates. If you've worked at a great company in the past, it highlights that you might be capable.

While all of this may not be 100% true (until they've met you), the impression you give through your resume is what gets you through the door. It doesn't matter how great or capable you are if you can't show that through your resume.

Again, look at the job description. What type of individual will succeed at the job? Analytical? Creative? Proactive? Are you giving the hiring manager that impression through your resume?

Interview

If you're in this stage, it means you're 100% eligible for the position based on your resume. Factors such as your GPA are out of the window. You will have to impress and outshine the other candidates to get the position.

Types of interview

Interviews generally fall into 2 types:

Fit Interviews - Interviews where they determine whether you're a "fit" for the company's culture based on your personality and behaviour.

Case Interviews - Interviews where they determine whether you possess the skills necessary for the role. (which can be done through scenario or case questions)

With that being said, interviews are of course mixed - they will be checking out for fit and ability in almost every interview.

Preparing for the Fit Interview

The first phone call the HR does is usually to vet for fit - if you can fit the organization/team culture, you know how to form and speak a proper sentence and you're not a weirdo. Subsequent interviews may also be on fit - in fact, there are some firms that only do fit interviews.

To handle fit interviews, you want to research on:

> Company - You need to understand what the company does, what's new with the company and what your department does.

> Company values - which aligned with you and what you have done in the past that relates to these values?

> Past interview questions - check online on Glassdoor and check with friends/network.

> Understand who you're interviewing with - different people have different biases. Stalk them on Linkedin to see what they're into and where they've been.

> Practice, practice and practice - Most fit interviews would have the same questions - "tell me about yourself", "strengths/weakness" and "why this company". Practice your pitch until it's perfect and remember to add in some erms and ahs to make it more natural.

Preparing for the case interviews

Most companies would incorporate some element of case interviews to make sure they're not hiring a 🤡.

While you're not expected to know everything, you're expected to at least be logical in the way you think!

To handle case interviews, you want to research on:

>Company - What kind of challenges does the company and your department face?

> Past interview questions - Check online on Glassdoor and check with friends.

> Understand who you're interviewing with - Different people have different views on problems - check on Linkedin on what they have an opinion on.

> Practice being logical - Being logical is a skill that not many have. If you're logical, you can have a flawless solution based on your current knowledge (which may not be entirely correct due to you knowledge gap). Check out consulting cases online, read more business-related publishers case studies (HBR, MIT press) and read relevant industry news sites.

> Practice, practice and practice - with all things in life, the more you practice (deliberately), the better you'll get.

After the interview

> Thank the interviewer via Email (do this only if the interview actually went well/ you had fun)

> Follow up on the application after 1 or 2 weeks

Tell stories in your interviews.

Movies. Novels. Games. TV shows.

Why do we seem to spend so much time consuming them?

A reason is because of the stories in them. You care about the characters.

Similarly, you want to tell stories to make sure your interviewer is interested in you as a person and your achievements.

The format of a story

Like any good movie, your story needs to incorporate the above elements.

>Introduction- Where did this take place. What role were you in? E.g I was a marketing intern in company x last year

> Build up/context - Give more context to the situation. E.g I had 2 major deadlines due in the next week as it was the busy period

> Problem - Highlight the key issue to make it obvious. E.g I didn't have enough time to fulfill the deadlines

> Resolution - What did you do to solve the problem? Why did you take that particular action?
E.g I decided to prioritize the most urgent project and ask for a deadline extension from my manager

> Ending - What happened in the end? What was the results?(in a positive situation) What did you learn? (in a negative situation).

E.g From this incident, I learnt to pace myself better and not stretch myself too thin.

Other ways of telling a story (STAR method)

The final question.. from you to the interviewer

Most sensible and reasonable interviewer would leave 5 minutes at the end of the interview for you to ask him/her any questions you may have.

While you might be relieved that the interview is over and you just want it to end ASAP, this is in fact still part of the interview. They're still judging you on whether you asked any questions.

This stage aims to test if you're genuinely interested in the company and what the department does. You want to appear as a candidate who is genuinely interested in the company and asks smart questions.

Read up on the company (which you should have done in preparing for this interview) and ask good questions. Stay away from cliche questions you find online and try to be somewhat original.

For example, a question I've asked in an interview was - If a MNC comes to your agency with little to no digital marketing infrastructure set up, what is the first thing you would help them set up?

I hope that you've learnt something from this guide. Good luck for your internship applications!

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