#InternLife: Three Tips to Land a Killer Internship


Breaking into the professional world can feel a lot like running a race. It may seem unattainable, especially at first, but each stride you take gets you closer to the finish line.

If you are like the thousands of college students and recent graduates in the U.S., the pressure to land the internship of your dreams is always on your mind. Whether you are fighting to get the crisp edges of your résumé into the hands of a company recruiter, or waiting in line at a cocktail hour you just happened to attend, there are countless opportunities to build connections, get your name noticed and land that killer internship.

1.    Know What You Want.

The first step to getting an internship is to know—or at least have an idea—of where you want to be. Don’t compile an unintentional and haphazard list of application deadlines that you aren’t enthusiastic about. Trust us, if you don’t want to be somewhere, the individual doing the hiring will know. Take advantage of this time to research industries, organizations and companies that have internship programs that align with your professional goals and current interests.

Be aware that internship programs vary from company-to-company and allow for various levels of participation with day-to-day tasks within the company. At Sage, our interns are extended many opportunities to make a direct impact on their accounts and teams. As emerging professionals, you should never feel like a glorified personal assistant.

2.    Networking. Just Do It. 

According to a 2017 LinkedIn survey, nearly 80 percent of professionals consider networking to be important for career success. The same study showed that 70 percent of people in 2017 were hired because of connections they had to the company. In today’s digital world, making connections and strengthening relationships is the simplest way to be introduced to a potential employer.

So, why are young professionals nervous to break the ice?  

Online relationships are not an alien concept for many, but ditching informality and adopting professionalism in our social networks may take some guidance. Here is a checklist to help you make those connections: 

  • Find the link. It’s likely that someone at your desired company attended the same college, is from your home state, or was in the same club as you at some point. Do your research to make your introduction smoother.

  • Draft your message. Regardless of your platform (email, LinkedIn, Twitter), make sure you draft your message in a separate place to eliminate the possibility of typographical errors or pressing send too early.

  • Make it short. Save your life memoir. You initial connection should be an elevator pitch. Keep it short, name, experience level, professional goal, how you’d prefer to connect, and, if there is one, your common ground.

  • Be considerate. Unfortunately, not everyone is well versed in social networking best practices. Try not to take offense if you don’t receive an immediate response, but keep trying with other professionals and connections in the same field.

  • Be understanding. Not every meeting will end in a job offer, but that doesn’t make those connections any less valuable. Always send a thank you note after a meeting to express your appreciation.

  • Follow-through. This is the most important step. If you receive a response, make sure to follow-up and confirm an informational phone call or coffee meeting. You must take time to build relationships in-person with people you enjoy talking to and learning from.

3.    Bring Your “A” Game.

It goes without saying that you should be fully prepared throughout the application process but it takes more than freshly ironed slacks to impress hiring managers.

Depending on the company, interview processes will differ and come in many shapes and sizes. But it doesn’t matter if your employer opts for a phone interview over an in-person meeting; your ability to prepare is the same. Information is merely a click away in today’s world and hiring managers want to see that you have done your research to prove your level of dedication and the value you can bring to their company.

Are you looking to gain professional experience at an agency that will offer you a collaborative and hands-on internship program? Sage Communications is an award-winning agency that represents Fortune 500 companies, nonprofit organizations and startup companies from across the United States.  

Consider applying to be a Sage-tern here:

Chelsea Bendelow is a PR intern at Sage Communications. Previously, Chelsea was a press intern in the U.S. House of Representatives and a public affairs intern for a DC-based marketing agency. Chelsea is a rising senior at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., majoring in journalism and mass communications and pursuing a minor in women’s studies. When she’s not working, you can find her cruising around in her Jeep Wrangler listening to the latest crime/mystery podcast.

X-SageJim McIntyre