Be a Sponge – Landing and Maximizing that Internship


by Jodi Rizzo, VP Public Relations


It’s an age-old question that has stood the test of time.

How do you find an awesome internship and maximize your time as said intern?

Unfortunately, there is no exact science here but there are a few go-to strategies that can help you land that perfect gig and gain as much experience as possible as you continue to grow and evolve in your career.

Let’s dive into landing that internship first.

According to our friends at Forbes – and let’s be honest, they’d know – there are five traits (besides your Uncle being the CEO of the company, of course) that can be the deciding factors in whether or not you are hired.

You’ve got to want it, baby! Showing enthusiasm for the opportunity goes a long way. Don’t send one email and assume yours will rise to the top. Follow and engage with executives from the company on social media, including LinkedIn. Retweet and share articles directly from the organization. And don’t be bashful in following up to your application. All of this effort shows motivation, something all employers crave.


Speaking from experience, this is a big one. As a broadcast journalism major and volleyball player at Marshall University, I had to stay in Huntington, West Virginia during the summer months to train. As you can imagine, there are not a ton of television stations in the greater Huntington area. Because I was so limited in potential internship opportunities, it greatly affected my career path, and I lost the passion to pursue a job in front of the camera. Be flexible. The wider you cast your net, whether that is the size of the corporation or the location, the better off you will be in the long run.


Relevant Experience
Creativity is key! Chances are the majority of the resume pool has as little actual on-the-job experience as you so it’s important to focus on any relevant experience that can help you rise to the cream of the crop. Babysit your younger siblings? Leadership experience! Volunteer at your local church? Organization skills! Run your family deli’s social media account? Marketing experience! Think outside the box. You have more experience than you think.


Overall Business Acumen
Be professional. Your (public especially!) social media accounts should showcase someone who is an outstanding reflection for their organization upon hiring. Make sure to double and triple-check your resume and cover letter for any grammatical errors. Use all available resources at your University to help create a personal brand that is guaranteed to shine.


Unique Expertise  
Kids these days. You guys are so tech-savvy it’s intimidating! Make sure to play on those unique skills that us older, less savvy executives can use in our everyday lives. Canva-queen? Clutch video editor? Adobe aficionado? Think of any and all expertise that will be of good use as you climb that corporate ladder at your new organization and highlight it as part of your personal pitch.


Congratulations, you listened to my advice above and landed the internship!

Now how do you get the most of it?

While in athletic media relations at the University of Maryland for nearly a decade, I oversaw the internship program so I’ve seen firsthand how college students can absolutely crush an internship and those who can’t cut it. Let me start by saying, for those who struggled or quit, it’s not an absolute loss. Some internships are meant for you to decide what you do not want to do and that is totally ok. Working in sports is a night and weekend gig and not for everyone.  

But those who succeeded, simply put, worked harder. Volunteer for extra assignments or hours. Contribute to campaigns by sharing creative ideas that will resonate with a younger target audience. Constantly be thinking about what you can do to build your portfolio. Save everything you work on. Ask questions. As a newbie in the job market, your internship supervisor will likely be someone you will want and need to use as a reference as you search for your first full-time gig so make sure you’re continually working to cultivate that relationship.

Your first internship is a stepping-stone to the rest of your career and will give you back what you put into it. Be persistent, have fun and be a sponge.

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