Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tips on how to land an internship or job!

I have exciting news, everybody! I landed 2 internships for the summer! Yeah! Not one, but two! Which, if you look back at my notebook from March 11th,  2014, I wrote " quite nervous to be applying to internships. I'm not sure I'm ready...struggling to work up the courage to just do it. This is the start of my career and I'm so very excited but terrified that I'll mess it up somehow." So, ZING!
I then wrote a little check list of things I needed to get done in order to really get my self & work in a place where I could apply, then I just started doing it. Well, actually, I lollied around for a little while, but then my friend getting accepted into a really popular agency in town really got me in panic mode. Then I started doing it.
One of the things I'm really wanting to do with Darling Dear, as it evolves, is to document my growth and how I've done things in hopes that someone else can either learn or be inspired by it. And realize that the things we think are scary at the front end, are really small little hurdles that we let hold us back. So with that in mind, I'd like to talk a little about how to land your first (or maybe even your eighth or ninth!) internship or job. 

First start by making a list of places you'd like to work. Not just for an internship, but for your end goal (or as far end goal as you can see). Pick your top three & then your top two jobs within that. So for instance, I think right now, I'd eventually love to be Editor in Chief (or something similar) for a big, glossy magazine. So I've been looking at my top three magazines & then their specific editors and then their art directors. 

Now, here's where the research bit comes in. Spend as much time as you can looking into these places & these positions (and subsequently the people who hold the positions).  Read their blogs, see what they tweet about, look at their Pinterest, subscribe to their newsletter. Really immerse yourself in these places. Then, look at their Linked In.
I know, I know. So many of us have been digging our heals and straight up refusing to join. I did for years. But, my professional practices class forced us & now, I'm so very glad they did. I've had LinkedIn less than a year and already I've had so many opportunities come from it. (I'm thinking of doing a whole blog post on just Linked In in the future, so please let me know if you have any specific questions!)
But anyway, I looked at the companies I'd ideally like to work for on Linked In, then, I went through their employees and started reading what they do & highlighted the jobs that seemed most interesting to me. For instance, there's a girl from Modcloth (who while not a magazine, is absolutely someone I'd love to work for & with one day!) who at one time was the online content editor. I was completely smitten by her writings (the specific posts she wrote for Modcloth) as well as the videos I'd seen her in & just everything that you knew she'd touched in Modcloth's online outreach program.
I looked at her Linked In profile & spent a good time reading through and picking out key words she used that I thought fit me and my interests. I also spent some time looking at her career path trajectory & what had led her to a job that I would ideally love to have.
She had been a journalism and marketing major in college and had interned at like a billion different news papers and magazines before eventually occasionally writing content for Modcloth's blog, then a full-time writer, and then of course, eventually the online content editor. The job I want.
And this did two things for me. It helped me realize that she had busted her butt to get where she had, which of course, made me feel better that I wasn't already close to that spot. It gave be hope that I'll be able to eventually work my way to that kind of spot. And two, it scared me a bit.
The job she had that I'd love to have wasn't what I had gone to school for. I've never had a journalism class nor have I had any real kind of marketing. Anything I've learned about marketing has been from the design side of things & any writing skills I've developed came from AP level English classes in high school, writing this blog & that's about it.
But here's the key part to this: I'm not letting that fear stop me. I look at that job I want, online content editor, chief editor for a glossy magazine... and I know that that's still something I can do. I just have to go at it a different way because I'm just about to graduate. No way am I going to start over.
So when I looked at her Linked In, I noticed that she'd been interning for newspapers and magazines and I noticed that she talked a lot about marketing and storytelling. 

So I went back to my list. I had my "dream-jobs" listed & now I needed to try and figure out how to get there. What's the next step? as one of my professors always used to say.
My next step was to then look at places in Nashville that have similar ground to her magazines and newspapers. There's quite a few. So I added those to the list. It's really important that you go for internships and jobs that are going to teach you something, especially something that you can use later, if possible.
I know that a lot of people say that when you're fresh out of college, don't get upset if you don't land your dream job right away. I get what they're trying to say & sure, I think that's really important. Sometimes, the dream job takes a while. But you can sure as hell try, right?
So those places in town that I absolutely would dream of working with are high on the top of the places to apply for. Or at least get my name in their hands & start the process.
Second, I researched these companies just like I did the companies like Modcloth. & My top three agencies in town are really competitive. Like, a bunch of kids want in. So I also went in and added a couple more companies to my list that had similar atmospheres but maybe taught me a different skill-set or something along those lines. 

Ok, so now I've made a pretty long list of places & I've heavily researched them. Next is writing the best cover letter & resume combo you can possibly imagine. Keywords & tailoring to each specific job is so very important, I cannot even begin to express to you.
Once you've got your portfolio (if applicable to your field), your resume & your cover letter, the next part is where a lot of people get skipped over, I think. 

Networking. Networking. Networking. From the moment you step foot into college (and possibly even before) through the rest of your life, it's all about who you know. I am a 100% example of that almost daily. I have gotten select, odd jobs & opportunities simply based on the fact that people know me, know I've got talent, that I'll do it well, & know that even if I myself can't do the job for them, I know someone who can. I've prided myself on my networking & it's something that constantly pays off.
And in this case, it's just as important. Maybe even more so. For this, I contacted the head of my department, the professor who is mainly in charge of internships for our program, as well as our Career Services department and let them all know I was looking for an internship, what kind of internship I was looking for & asked them if they could forward anything they hear of to me. I also asked for specific contacts & friends they had in the places I was applying for.
And guess what? They gave them to me, happily, even. All just because I asked

Next, contact them. I sent them short, professional emails. I was quick to my point, explaining how I had gotten their emails, who I was forwarded by (because remember, these aren't my contacts. They're my professors'.) and that I had attached my resume & portfolio for their consideration. I also thanked them. I think this is extremely important. They're busy people who didn't even have to open your email & they absolutely don't have to open your resume. So thank them for their time.
I also, in a few cases, where applicable, went back to Linked In & tried to see if I myself knew anyone who worked there or had in the past. In one particular case, I exchanged quite a few emails with a girl that I had had classes with a couple years ago that has already graduated & is now the art director for a magazine I'd love to work for in town. I asked her advice & if she'd look at my stuff before I apply.
She's so awesome & was very helpful and I'm excited by the possibility of being able to work with them in future. 

Now comes the hard part: waiting & then sometimes getting a "no." 
One of the places I applied for sent me back a nicely worded rejection within 4 hours of my applying. That freaking stung. Not because they had rejected me, honestly, but because they had done so quickly. I wasn't the droid they were looking for, you know?

A couple, I never heard back from, even after sending follow up emails (do this! Do This. DO THIS.) which was a bummer. & Then a couple of my absolute favorites had already hired their summer interns but wanted me to reapply in the fall. Which, I will.
And then a couple more asked me for an interview.
(I have an entire post for interviews coming, because they are so very important.)
And two of the places I interviewed with I felt really awesome & excited about. One of which I was offered the job before I left & the other, it was seriously hinted at that by the following week, I'd have the job.
Now, I haven't started these internships yet. The first one starts May 1st, & the other a couple weeks after. And I'm so excited!
The first one is a online marketing type place with an amazingly fun atmosphere with really awesome people, who have beer in the fridge & are downtown Nashville. The other is a elegant, corporate, very professional & friendly place out in Brentwood. Minus the fact that they both are friendly & lovely people, they are completely opposite in every way. Which, I'm so very excited about.
There's so much I can learn from both & I think both will lend to my ultimate career goal (or at least my current career goal) and will make me a more well-rounded designer, marketing gal & content writer.
I'll also be going into follow ups & what you do after you get a job in a later post, as this is already the longest post ever. But I hope this kind of help shine a little light on those of us who are in similar spots in their life or will be soon. Please let me know if you have any questions or similar stories & I'll try and compile them for a future post.
I'd also be interested in hearing if this type of post was fun or insightful for you? I plan on doing more kinds of posts like this so let me know! 


  1. hello Zie! my name is Zoe (almost the same name haha!) and i just found your blog and instantly fell in love! you have such a wonderful space here and i followed straight away, I can't wait to read future posts :)

    Have a lovely day!
    Zoe xx


  2. Dear Zie, thank you so much for this post! I am currently looking for a job/internship to combine with college, and I find this post really helpfull! Please continue writing this kind of blogposts :) (By the way, I love your blog, keep up the good work!)

  3. I knew you had this, toots. You always do. I'm super proud of you, as always.

  4. Thanks for the tips and congrats on both your internships!

  5. Congratulations! I know you're going to be the best intern ever so allow me to inflate your ego and help you prop it up! xo

  6. This is really helpful! I seriously do need to get my ass into gear and design a CV for myself. Also, do you have any major tips for writing covering letters? Good luck with your internships!
    Lauren | OhHay Blogs!

  7. Hey Zie! Thank you for the tips and for the wisdom! I'm also a college student and working' on my resume for my future internship/s.This is a big help! <3


  8. Absolutely fantastic list Zie! I just landed my first corporate job in my field all before I graduated! (I have four courses left over the next 14-15 school year.) I'm so excited, but I am quite surprised at how little people know about really obtaining the job they want. The more genuine interest you show in a company the more appealing you can be. Just knowing about the company already could be the difference between you getting hired or someone else. (Not saying that experience, and a slew of other factors don't apply.)

    I look forward to future posts.

    Oh and would you be interested in sharing your career journey & tips over at FeedMink.com? (I know we've e-mailed but do let me know!)

    Chrissy of Crashbeauty.com
    Founder of Feedmink.com


Hello there! And thank you for commenting. I read every comment, and they mean the world to me! But if you have a question, please leave an email for me to reach you at, if possible. Or you may find it a bit quicker to reach me directly by email (ziecampbell@gmail.com) or by twitter (@ziedarling).
Have a darling day!