It’s about that time of year where millions of college students are tweaking their resumes and reciting their “tell me about yourself” answers hoping to secure an internship. And it makes sense. Not only do internships provide students with real-world experience, they can also lead to full-time positions.
The good news for you is that you’re not late to the game in your internship search. While some government agencies start their recruiting for summer interns in the fall, most look for interns later in the winter or early spring. To help get you ready for this job hunt, here’s six tips to help you secure an internship.
1. Clarify Your Career Goals
The start to any internship search (or any job for that matter) is defining your career goals. It’s important to determine what experiences you’d like to get out of an internship position and how that will help your career ambitions. Once defined, it will be easier to understand what roles or organizations can provide you with the best opportunity for learning–whether it’s working in a particular department or gaining experience in a particular skill.
2. Build Relationships
As cliché as it may sound, who you know can go a long way. Leverage opportunities to get to know individuals who work for the federal government. Introduce yourself and ask how they got their start. If you built enough trust, they may even help you with securing a position. Bonus points if you’re able to take them out for a cup of coffee
3. Write Your Federal Resume
Ignore everything you have learned so far about building the perfect resume. The typical one-page document that summarizes your work history will not translate for federal government positions. Compared to other industries, a federal resume is expected to be 2-5 pages and include greater detail about your duties, skills, and achievements. For specifics on what to include in your federal resume, visit USAJOBS.gov.
4. Tailor Your Cover Letter
Including a cover letter in your application process is the perfect opportunity to show potential agencies your interest in their position and provide context to the specific skills and achievements that you’ve listed on your resume. Be sure to use this opportunity to customize your cover letter by connecting the dots and showing how your experience can be a valuable resource to their needs. Your goal is to convince the hiring manager that you have a unique skill set and that they are putting the country at risk if they do not offer you the position.
5. Be Proactive
Applying for internships is a grind where positions are advertised and filled daily. Make it a habit to review job boards daily. And when you apply for positions, follow up and ask if you can provide additional information that can help with their decision-making process if they haven’t reached out to you in a couple weeks. The goal is to be persistent but not overeager.
6. Move Quickly
Remember: If you see an internship position that seems interesting, do not hesitate in filling out the application. Some federal agencies cap the number of applications they will accept, so apply as soon as possible.
7. Don’t Give Up
Federal government internships are competitive, and it will be a challenge to be selected. But don’t become discouraged. If you continue the internship-seeking process, you’ll find success!