Best Foot Forward: A College Student’s Guide to Starting Right: Step 4: Intentional Assertiveness

We all know that the early bird gets the worm.  However, I propose that in the world of internship hunting, this is not entirely true.  The bird should not only be early, but it should be a bird of prey, a bird with intention, assertiveness and focus; a bird that has his eye on the prize and a plan to attain it. This bird gets the worm (internship). But seriously, aside from the bird analogy, in this market there are thousands of highly qualified, competent candidates, so if you want an internship, you have to go the extra mile and be intentional about securing it.  You have realized, researched, spun and now its time to be assertive. In terms of being assertive, I am not referring to hunting and pouncing on your prey or prospective employer literally. I am referring to a figurative intentional pursuing of sorts.

So what does this intention look like? Let me explain. Once you have researched your company, which includes thoroughly familiarizing yourself with their website and work, you have inquired by email or phone (or both) about the internship, what it entails, what a successful candidate looks like, you have tailored your resume and constructed your cover letter and sent it–now its time to be intentional. At this point many college students think that this is when they simply sit back and wait.  This is not true and most likely costs many what could have been quite an enriching opportunity.

Rule of thumb says you wait about two weeks after initially sending in your information, then it is appropriate to call the company directly.  Some are afraid to do this because they are worried they will seem to forward or rude. Or they simply do not know what to say.

Example: “Hello, my name is Amanda Martin.  I am calling to inquire about the internship I recently applied for. I sent in my resume and cover letter and just wanted to double check that you received it?” They did. “Great, when can I expect to hear an answer?” They tell you. “Thank you so much, I look forward to hearing from you…”

You can also ask how many applicants they received to get an idea of what you are up against, how many interns are they taking, when are they making the final decisions and scheduling interviews.  Asking questions makes you look assertive and if they are good questions, they make you look intelligent and capable.  Make sure you tell them again your name, and thank them for their time. Now they have mentally recognized and categorized you as the potential internee who has actually inquired about the position more than once, aka really wants this position.  Also make sure you know who you are sending it to directly if you can. Then when you call and inquire, try to bypass the receptionist and request to speak to that person who will actually be hiring or not hiring you.  This shows that you are serious about this position and that you will do the extra digging to maneuver yourself into the best possible position.  Self starters and determined people are very appealing to potential employers.  Yet if you show the interest and take the initiative to call and follow up, many employers will not only be impressed, they will remember your name.  This is your first step to making a good impression.  With so many job- hungry, over qualified college students and graduates, you need to be remembered. So go ahead, be the early bird of prey and be assertive and intentional about your future career.

Blogger: Amanda Martin

Media Relations and Advertising Intern