Hey! My name is Ananya and I am here to share my experience on how I was able to bag internships just by leveraging the power of networking. I recently completed my internship at Bigbasket.com and previously I have worked as a research associate at IIM Ahmedabad. Just to be clear, I’m someone who hails from a tier-three college, and getting such good Internships seemed a bit far fetched for me too. Initially, I used to be very lost on how to look for the right Internships and approach the right people. To be honest, my initial days used to be spent mostly on Google, looking for answers to “How to approach someone on LinkedIn”,” How to ask someone for internship”, “Perfect CV tips” and the list goes on and on. There are a few things that I understood from my constant hustle that might come useful to you.
1. Create an effective resume
Being a fresher it’s thought that not much can be written on your resume but that’s very incorrect. It’s of absolute importance that you write any and all significant curricular/ co-curricular activities that you were involved in or any project that you worked on to be mentioned in your resume. Add relevant skills as well. There’s a lot of free templates and blogs available on the net that can be used. Try not to keep the resume as minimal as possible in terms of design, but keep it rich on content. Make sure to provide a comprehensive description to all your roles and projects and include the necessary keywords as well.
2. Work on a cover letter
The cover letter is the content you write when you are sending a mail to somebody. When applying for a research internship or a job, what you write in your cover letter proves to be much important. Every cover letter should have a brief introduction of you; who you are, where you are from, and why do you want these are the three basic foundations of an effective cover letter. Try to keep them to the point, the people you are sending this to do not have a lot of time in their hands and it shouldn’t take them longer than 5 minutes to be able to skim through and get a gist of who, what and why about you. Again, a proper dive into the internet can fetch you the important resources that you need in order to gather a good cover letter.
3. Make LinkedIn your friend
This is probably one of the most important things to do if you are looking for an internship in a company. LinkedIn needs a lot of time and effort to look for the right people but trust me its totally worth it. So, where do you start?
Update your profile - Your profile is kind of like your resume for anyone who views it on LinkedIn. Update your experiences, skills, and education on LinkedIn. Have a comprehensive bio that isn’t too short or too long and provides a summary of your goals, your past work, and the field you are interested in or currently working it. Choose an informative Headline. Don’t go with something vague like “Dreamer” or “Fresher at fresher” as this doesn’t give out a good impression on any potential recruiter who looks at your profile. Additionally, do not put any misleading headline as it’s only going to weaken your candidature for pretty obvious reasons.
Features - You can choose to upload your resume, certificate, or anything you are proud of here. You can also put up any good article that you had written or any good project you worked on. This kind of works like a highlight feature that lets people know what is great and significant for you.
How to approach people - This is the most exciting and favorite part for me when I use LinkedIn. So, I would advise you to first look for open positions across the companies you want to work for. Then, look for HR professionals or current employees on Linkedin. Send them a connection request. Once they accept it, just send a formal Hello. Tell them its a good thing that you got connected. Ask them how they are doing (or in corona times wish them safety and wellness). Once you get a reply, you can approach them with your request. The message you send should be short and should really look like a message and not a mini cover letter (I’m speaking from past experience, long messages do not give a good impression). Alternatively, you can just go ahead and send an Inmail to people telling about yourself and what you are looking for, it’s not wrong but I do not recommend it. I personally believe that Linkedin is a gold mine for people who are looking to learn from people and gain insights and experiences. More often than not, I end up having insightful conversations with people many of whom have given me excellent advice and tips which have benefitted me a lot. Inmail kind of restricts the conversation to a mere formal chat and doesn’t give you the chance for more.
One thing that you should keep in mind is that you do not end up spamming someone. If your messages aren’t being replied there’s a good chance that the person you approached is a bit busy and couldn’t get back to you. Please do not end up sending multiple messages, it only looks bad on your part. Also, do not approach many people from the same company for the same role, it doesn’t look good on your end. It is okay if you connect with them to understand the work culture, job roles, etc but please stick to one person when looking for employee referrals.
4. Cold email HRs/Professors
Cold emails are the emails you send to someone you haven’t formally been introduced to before. So, it is very important to introduce yourself in the best way you can to make a lasting impression. The cover letter and resume that you send in are the only two means you have to make a lasting impression on the recipient. It is an important bit in the process of internship hunt. Cold emailing looks kind of the same for both Academic or Professional internship, there are just some basic essential differences. When you are sending a mail to a professor, looking for a research internship, the first thing is to look for a professor you wish to work with. Go on the university website, and search for faculty who is working in your domain. Go through their work and see if your interests match. Now, when you are writing the mail to this professor, mention why you are approaching them, how your work and research interests align with them, and what you will be able to do for them. You need to be able to clearly mention what are the major strengths that make you a good candidate.
Similarly, when you are mailing to the HR of a company, enlist all your achievements so far and prove your reasons why you are fit for the role applied. You can keep the email very precise in this case and be very specific in your key strengths.
5. Network network and network as much as you can
The one thing that helped me the most throughout my journey is people. I cannot stress enough on how important it is to reach out to people for help or just interact with them. Having a strong network of people is super helpful. I have generally found that people on LinkedIn are helpful, you just need to reach out to the right one.
Lastly, getting the internship of your choice is going to be a long journey. You will have to face a lot of “Sorry we aren’t hiring” kind of messages till you find the right one. Keep going, brush yourself off, tweak your resume as needed and keep on reaching out until you get there ☺️
- Written by Ananya Shrivastava - Former Intern at Bigbasket.com | Former Research Associate at IIM Ahmedabad | Medicaps University
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