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Most Important Part to an Internship Application

I realize not all industries or jobs are alike, but I think it'd be worthwhile to ask. When applying to a summer internship and including my resume, cover letter, and letter of recommendation- which of these 3 do you find to be the most valuable/important?

#internship #resume #job #application


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Dexter’s Answer

Hello!

From a hiring manager in a tech company, I would say that the resume is the most important part.

By the time the candidate has made it to a hiring manager, an HR recruiter has usually screened the candidates. I'm not 100% sure what happens from there until a hiring manager sees it, but I can tell you what happens afterwards.

As a hiring manager, I go into my candidate reviewing software once a week to see who has applied to the job. The software that is used at my company has a quick link for the candidate's resume, but not for the cover letter nor for letters of recommendation. At least at my company, most managers make their decisions on whether they find the candidate favorable just based on the resume.

When reviewing the resume, I personally don't care how pretty the resume looks. I'm really looking at the list of courses that the candidate has taken and seeing if it matches well with the intern position I have open. I'm looking for any previous work experience (related or not). I'm looking to see if the candidate has completed any projects that I would find interesting. I'm looking for third party webpage links to github.com, if this is a tech position. I'm looking for a link to the candidate's own home page, if they have it, to gain further information about the candidate.

I wish you the best of luck in finding your internship position!

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Caroline’s Answer

Hi Charlotte,

Great question. The reason employers ask for these different pieces of information is that they help provide different types of information to get a sense of who you are. So, if the employer is asking for all three, then you can assume they're all important :) Sometimes an employer won't ask for all of these, so each application might be different.

In my opinion, your resume is the most important. It gives the most comprehensive view of what your qualifications are. The person reviewing your application likely won't be spending a lot of time doing so, so be sure to use strong language. A common format you can leverage for the bullet points on your resume is: situation, action, result. For example: Amongst my class of 100 students, I was elected Secretary of our Student Council and was able to organize a fundraiser, resulting in [X amount] raised. Situation = the size of your class. Action = once elected, you organized the fundraiser. Result = how much money was raised in the fundraiser.

Your cover letter is a chance to showcase your writing skills and provide some color as to why you want and are qualified for this particular job or internship. Here is the place where you can show that you did your research on the organization. Your cover letter should be concise (no more than one page) and--like everything you submit--free from any misspellings.

A letter of recommendation is also important because it gives a reference to your character and quality of your work. In my experience, the hardest part can be working up the nerve to ask someone you respect to provide a letter of recommendation. You can increase your chances of getting the person to say "yes", by making the request as easy as possible for them. Be sure to reach out and make your request as early as possible in advance (for example, one month out). In your request, it can be helpful to remind the person of some of your accomplishments they may want to mention in the letter. For example, you might remind them of the good grade you earned in their class, an excellent project you turned in, or the fact that you went above and beyond to help another student in your class. While a letter of recommendation won't always be asked for, it's a great idea to build relationships in advance with favorite teachers, coaches, etc. so you have someone to go to if and when a letter of rec is requested. One easy way to build those relationships is to attend office hours.

With anything you submit, it can be helpful to have someone else review your application materials before you send them off.

Best of luck to you in getting that internship!


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Neel’s Answer

I work in software world and, when hiring for a full-time position, a resume is most important. I am looking for specific skills and experiences. However, for an intern position, things are different. I have had a few interns who have been amazing with hardly anything on their resume. When you are finishing your sophomore or junior year, you still don't have much in the way of experience - just some course work. But you can show your attempts at growing yourself via the cover letter where you can tell me more about your drive.

Having said that, crafting well-written (no spelling or grammatical mistakes, good formatting, well-structured) responses for each document that the potential employer asks for is an excellent first step towards making a lasting impression. I once received a resume for an intern position that was so well crafted that, rather than just telling the candidate that the position was filled, I shopped around to all my colleagues and friends in other companies till someone gave him an internship.

Just remember, hiring managers may be going through many pieces of information. Making yours stand out and be an advocate for you is a good strategy.

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Shay’s Answer

To start, I would say the resume is important. When applying online, any posting will ask you to submit a resume to an online system. The system is meant to look for certain keywords on the resume, and the resumes with these keywords will make it to the next step in the process. Make sure your resume looks clean and has no typos, as recruiters often throw out resumes with typos. The average resume is only looked at for 6 seconds. Try to have the entire page filled out with experiences. To figure out what to put on your resume/how to organize it, go to any university's website and look for career resources, where they will often have these posted. If they're only for students, you can go online and find websites that show you great resumes and look at those.

The other important part is the interview, where they will determine if you're a good fit. Here I would say be yourself and have a genuine conversation with the interviewer. Tell them about real experiences and not just what you think they want to hear. It's okay to show your personality; if you're funny you can crack a joke. If you need to make small talk for any reason (like you're walking with the recruiter from the elevator to the interview room), you can always bring up the weather (e.g. "it's really hot" or "it's really cold"). That can prevent an awkward silence and show the person that you are human and not a more robotic candidate. When asking them questions (usually towards the end), ask about company-specific items and the recruiter's own experiences at the company. People love to talk about themselves. If you say something that the interviewer can relate to, don't be afraid to dive deeper into that conversation. For example, if you both played football in high school, you can ask about their position, team record, what kind of offense/defense they ran, etc. Have a real conversation with them; they're a human too.

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Dustin’s Answer

Resume is definitely most important. This is where you get to showcase your work experience, your schooling, and your skills which will give the best indicator of your readiness for an internship. While it isn't necessary that you have an abundance of experience, how you can relate this experience to a potential internship is crucial and showing that on your resume is important. After that your soft skills are the most important which will come with getting involved in clubs, groups, etc. which can also be included on your resume. Good luck!

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Shay’s Answer

To start, I would say the resume is important. When applying online, any posting will ask you to submit a resume to an online system. The system is meant to look for certain keywords on the resume, and the resumes with these keywords will make it to the next step in the process. Make sure your resume looks clean and has no typos, as recruiters often throw out resumes with typos. The average resume is only looked at for 6 seconds. Try to have the entire page filled out with experiences. To figure out what to put on your resume/how to organize it, go to any university's website and look for career resources, where they will often have these posted. If they're only for students, you can go online and find websites that show you great resumes and look at those.

The other important part is the interview, where they will determine if you're a good fit. Here I would say be yourself and have a genuine conversation with the interviewer. Tell them about real experiences and not just what you think they want to hear. It's okay to show your personality; if you're funny you can crack a joke. If you need to make small talk for any reason (like you're walking with the recruiter from the elevator to the interview room), you can always bring up the weather (e.g. "it's really hot" or "it's really cold"). That can prevent an awkward silence and show the person that you are human and not a more robotic candidate. When asking them questions (usually towards the end), ask about company-specific items and the recruiter's own experiences at the company. People love to talk about themselves. If you say something that the interviewer can relate to, don't be afraid to dive deeper into that conversation. For example, if you both played football in high school, you can ask about their position, team record, what kind of offense/defense they ran, etc. Have a real conversation with them; they're a human too.

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Theodore’s Answer

Resume is definitely the most important part, it showcases everything you've done and highlights your strengths

Cover Letters are important but they need to be personalized or it can feel impersonal, I wouldn't attach it unless it's been specifically built for the job

Finally, letters of recommendation are important but are usually used as a way to double check something on a resume or as a final check on a candidate. I would put the most effort into your resume and making sure it gives a good picture of who you are.

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Angel’s Answer

Hello,

All three are very important, but I would argue that the resume is the meat of the application.

Your resume will paint a picture of who you are to the employer. They will see your volunteer work, hobbies, education, etc... It will give them an understanding of who you are. A cover letter will help, but it will just introduce why you are applying.

The references will only confirm the type of person you are to the employer.

Hence, the resume should be the main focus when applying to an internship. Spend most of your time on that.

Hope this helps, reach out if you have any questions.


Angel

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Michael’s Answer

I agree with the general consensus here, your resume is most important.

Be sure to highlight what makes you stand above the crowd of students that have basically the same degree as you. Things like summer internship or positions that are relevant to the field your perusing. Include your GPA and participation in extra curricular activities if relevant.

Oh, and don't be shy about sending out those applications. Its better to have more options then none.

Good luck...

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Karen’s Answer

I think your resumé is the most important. It will have all your education, experience, skills and strengths in it. It’s important to tailor your resume to the specific internship and use some of the same words from the description in your resumé.

Good luck in your applications for a summer internship!

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