Job Search Advice

Tips to set yourself apart when applying for internships

Setting yourself apart from other internship applicants is an important part of the application process. Keep reading to hear the Simplify team’s take on how to make yourself stand out!

Will Ballenger Michael Yan
Published: (Updated: ) - 3 min read
Student at UNC Chapel Hill

Photo by Luis Morera / Unsplash

Setting yourself apart from other internship applicants is an important part of the application process. Keep reading to hear the Simplify team’s favorite tips on how to make yourself stand out!

Building and utilizing your network

In our previous blog post “How many internships should I apply to?”, we recommended applying to 20 to 200 internships. The high number has to do with how applying to job postings on sites like Indeed often yield low acceptance rates chiefly due to the sheer number of applicants: it is open to everyone. While you should certainly utilize these sites and apply to many positions, it is also important to be creative and use your own resources to find opportunities that may not be as readily available to everyone.

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One way to go about this is to talk to your personal network. Each person in your network – friends, family, community members – has their own unique contacts. The same applies to your professors: they may be able to refer you to hiring managers at companies or programs you didn’t even know about. They might even be willing to write you a reference letter, which can help you stand out!

Another component of this is taking the initiative to reach out to local companies in your area. If you are struggling to land a big-name internship, it’s important to know that many smaller start-ups may love to have an intern or two, but aren’t big enough to appear on sites like Indeed. It’s also worth mentioning that hiring managers really appreciate you taking the time to learn about them and reach out, which they may not get on mass-application openings on sites like Indeed.

Crafting your online appearance

In today’s technology-dominated world, another huge part of setting yourself aside when applying to internships is having a good online presence. While it may be shocking, the majority of college students don’t have a LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is essentially your digital resume, and creating one can help open up new possibilities and connections.

Other ways you can go about crafting your online appearance include creating YouTube videos that highlight your experience and abilities, a website, blog, and of course, creating a Simplify profile!

By creating a profile on Simplify, recruiters will be able to reach out to you with unique opportunities that fit you!

Creating a unique and applicable resume

While most see the resume as a non-changing component of applying to internships, it is wise to consider tweaking your resume for different applications. In other words, you want to make sure that you highlight the right experience on your resume, specific to the position you're applying for.

For instance, if you are a business major who is considering applying to a business development position at a company based around the environment, you might want to consider making any related experiences most prominent on your resume.

As the authors of this post, we each have 3 different resumes we use depending on the job we're applying for!

Another part of creating a unique and applicable resume has to do with quality, not quantity. In this context, this refers to how potential employers would prefer to see one or two outstanding projects in a certain field opposed to a multitude of smaller, unrelated projects. This is not at all to say that employers don’t appreciate a prospective intern that has a diverse range of experience – it’s just to say that when building your resumes and cover letters, it’s better to go in-depth on a few experiences rather than list out everything you have without being very descriptive.

Another way to put this is that employers prefer an intern that has a lot of experience in one field that can be a real asset to them – rather than a jack of all trades, master of none intern.

Be yourself!

Lastly, perhaps the most important part of standing out when applying to internships is simply being yourself. As mentioned, it’s good to tailor your resume and cover letter for the position and place emphasis on anything about you that pertains to the job, but don’t write a cover letter or behave in an interview in a way that isn’t reflective of the true you.

Letting your individuality shine is the best way to stand out, and if you confine yourself to what you think is typical and desired by a potential employer, you risk not standing out enough to get the position, or ending up in a position you may not really enjoy because you weren’t true to yourself. Remember, just like people, no internship is the same. There is always something for everyone, which is why being the authentic you will not only help you find an internship, but help you find one that is a great fit at that.

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