Traditionally, college students have been trained to place great emphasis on crafting the perfect resume and cover letter when looking to land their dream job or internship, and I was no exception. It wasn’t until applying for my DoD internship in Washington, D.C. that my thoughts on this changed.
While a well-written resume and cover letter are fundamental elements of any young professional’s career, I have come to wonder whether the current level of emphasis placed on these documents has led to a general oversight in prioritizing what’s important.
Is the current habit of subconsciously de-valuing other non-traditional aspects of the application process costing young professionals valuable internship and job opportunities in the long-run?
I have included three non-traditional tips to consider when trying to land a kicka$$ job or internship. These are all based upon on my own personal experience applying when applying for my Department of Defense Federal internship.
1. WRITE YOUR ESSAY & MAKE AN IMPACT
In Scrabble, and in application essays, every word counts. Those word count requirements aren’t stifling chains to hold you down or weed you out. They are actually generous gifts given from the employer to you, and each one of the words you use should be treated with the utmost respect and care.
Your essay should be compelling and interesting. It should tell a story, and SHOULD say all the things that your resume and cover letter can’t. Most of all, it should speak to your desire to contribute to something greater than yourself.
2. BRING YOUR A-GAME TO THE PHONE INTERVIEW
A few months after submitting the essay, I received an email informing me that I had been selected for the second stage of the interview process. It was a phone interview. I was excited and nervous. I had never done a phone interview before.
I immediately set off on a digital rampage. furiously seeking out the best tips on successfully navigating a telephone interview. What I learned was something I had never before considered: dressing up.
Sounds crazy, but I didn’t realize that dressing up for a telephone interview could increase one’s confidence-level, which can often translate to an increased level of professionalism and poise, especially when speaking over the phone.
It makes sense when you think about it. Imagine the confidence you feel during the first day of school when you wear your best outfit. Or sporting your favorite lulu lemon get-up at the gym.
3. DON’T BE AFRAID TO SHOW A LITTLE HEART!
I spent hours preparing for my phone interview. I research as much as I could about the Department of Defense, its history, and its leadership. I read each of the featured alumni testimonials, and researched the type of intern I believed they were looking for.
Despite all of that preparation I still didn’t feel ready for my interview.
I said a simple prayer, allowed my spirit to calm, and wrote three words in BIG letters at the top of my notes page: professional, humble, and fun.
When the recruiter called, those three words guided each of my responses. Over the course of our conversation I was successfully able to show professionalism, humility, and fun. Turns out, I was the first phone interview she had ever facilitated…EVER. In her entire career.
In fact, she even told me that SHE was nervous! My response was “Oh really? Phew! Does that mean we can just relax and chat for a bit?” to which she laughingly replied “Yes! I would like that very much!”
I believe that landing a kicka$$ job or internship is about more than just perfecting your resume and cover letter (though those things are still very important). Next time around, find even more non-traditional opportunities to leverage your skills, personality and expertise! Write a killer essay, dress up for your phone interview, be who you are. You won’t regret it!