BY NICK PANOZZO | Ball State Sports Link
As a junior in college, realizing you’re nearly one year away from graduation and entering the “real world” is daunting.
Not only does constant uncertainty loom over your head, but you feverishly question whether or not you’re taking the necessary steps to succeed. The dreaded “what-if’s” begin to accumulate and soon enough it is all you think about.
I found myself in this position this semester. The thought of not having my summer plans set by spring break clawed at me. However, what I quickly discovered is I held the power. Many fail to recognize there is so much you can do to set yourself up for success.
Through my experiences, I have come up with these four steps to finding — and getting — your dream internship:
STEP ONE: Get off your butt and look!
This first step seems rather elementary, but think about it for a moment. Very few things in life are handed to you. All it takes is a little willpower and 30 minutes and you have yourself a window of opportunity.
Start with a Google search, but don’t limit yourself to that. Be opportunistic and seek options in the community. Pay a visit to local businesses, inquire about upcoming openings and always, ALWAYS end with a handshake followed with a heartfelt, “thank you.” You will be amazed at how far you’ll get being cordial, upbeat and sincere.
STEP TWO: Use your network!
Do not be afraid to ask for a little help. This is not the same as requesting a friend ask a friend of theirs about opportunities for you, rather, use your network of people you know to get contact information or set up meetings with others. Use your resources, but do the work yourself.
You can never have too many contacts or people to reach out to and expanding your network is essential for many facets of work and business.
The more people you know, the more connections you can make to set yourself up for success. As the old cliché goes: Don’t burn bridges (if you have, mend the burnt ones).
Whether you are seeking an internship opportunity, or you already have one and are looking for a place to stay, asking somebody in your network for assistance is a smart move.
STEP THREE: Be persistent, but do not nag!
This is easier said than done. If you have a lead on a grand opportunity, hold on to it like the last dollar in the wallet of a poor college student.
If you land an interview, always follow up with your interviewer. If you feel like you’re bothering them, that’s okay. They will let you know if you are.
It’s acceptable to follow a great opportunity, but not okay to over pursue one. There is a fine line between staying in contact with a person and nagging them, and this line is in a different place for everyone. The tricky part of this step is knowing when you are becoming overbearing.
STEP FOUR: Stay in contact!
This last step is similar to step three in the fact that you must avoid becoming overbearing. You do not want to send emails or leave voicemails multiple days per week, however, it is smart to stay in contact with your interviewer and let him or her know your appreciation.
A simple way to do this that is often overlooked is sending a hand-written thank you note to the company or person you interviewed for a position with.
In today’s busy world, a small form of gratitude like a thank you note is often appreciated by professionals and shows you have a genuine interest in what they do.
Since I first dove into video production, my dream internship has been to work for a professional lacrosse team or lacrosse equipment company shooting highlights, feature stories or product videos for the respective organizations.
What I quickly found out was I had to dig deeper and really put myself out there since that area of the market is so specialized.
I did Google search after Google search and browsed teamworkonline.com daily (this is the part where getting off your butt is helpful).
I found a handful of teams across the country with video positions available, so I began sending my resume and applying for positions.
The position was exactly what I wanted, and the work was nearly identical to what we do in Sports Link. The details of the position read I would be responsible for:
“The development of videos and multimedia elements across digital channels to increase fan followings and drive fan engagement,” and “Creating and editing videos for digital media channels and e-mail releases and insider newsletters including but not limited to sponsor advertisements, promotional banners and photos.”
Yep, Sports Link is definitely known for content like that.
Circumstances dictated I skipped to step three. I had to be persistent. Between emails and phone calls, I connected myself with Michael Zeff, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the Launch.
About two weeks after our first phone conversation, he offered me the position with the team. I eagerly accepted the opportunity and was lucky enough to have skipped step two.
This is where step four came in for me: Like I mentioned above, be appreciative to those who have stuck up for you. Thank those who have put trust in you.
Between now and May 8th when I arrive in Florida, I will maintain contact with the organization that so graciously offered me the position.
If these four steps work for you like they worked for me, remember to be humble, but confident. Trust that you put the work in to get on the right track to where you see yourself in the future.
Regardless of the job, shoot for the moon. Never be afraid to aim high and miss higher, because one day you might just land the opportunity of a lifetime beyond where you thought you could go.
These four steps are not foolproof, but they will set you in the direction for success.