Summer is only 2,184 hours or 90 days, away, and if you haven’t secured your internship yet, you may be at risk of unemployment for the rest of your life. But don’t start worrying yet — we uncovered some tips from your Wellesley siblings on how to successfully get that dream internship you’ve always wanted.
According to Wellesley’s Career Education office in a poll taken in June 2016, 90 percent of Wellesley students who don’t do a summer internship at DOW, NASA, IHOP or any other company with an acronym as their name in their first year wind up homeless after graduation.
When asked why this might be, career mentor Clara Squishem ’99 responded with “Employers only care about what’s written on your resume. In the end, all that matters is that a string of capital letters that has no real denotation be printed beneath ‘Experience.’”
Wellesley students spend on average two hours a day poring over job bulletin boards and frantically attempting to network on LinkedIn. They also make use of the Career Education Office’s online database of jobs, Handshake and The Hive, where thousands of career opportunities exclusively for college students are posted daily.
But why is it that even with resources such as Handshake and The Hive, internships are increasingly difficult to receive? As we soon learned, it’s not a lack of experience or the qualifications listed on your resume. Surprisingly, it also isn’t a deflated GPA (okay, maybe it is). It certainly isn’t a lack of good looks either — one of the admissions criteria for getting into Wellesley is beauty. As it turns out, it’s your cover letter: it needs to be shorter.
“I hate reading,” says Don Packham, human resources officer at the FBI. “Most of all, I hate reading the cover letters you send me via email.”
To help you avoid cover-letter boo-boos, we interviewed one student, Penelope Pennywaifer ’20, regarding her own methods of securing a summer internship at the United Nations (UN). Pennywaifer, a French major, worked last summer with the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) in Cambodia.
When asked about her number one recommendation for writing cover letters, Pennywaifer said, “You need to be brief and to the point. Don’t skirt around the edges. Don’t provide too much detail about your life, but it’s your opportunity to also be honest and elaborate on who you are as a person, too.”
Pennywaifer offered to share her cover letter with us as an example, and it is printed below:
Please give me a job. Any job. I’ll even be your janitor. I’ll do it for free. The only thing you have to do is let me put it on my resume so I can get a real job later on.
Please contact me at [censored] or via cellphone at [censored] for further discussion of this position. Thank you for this opportunity.
When asked about how her summer internship experience supplemented her career goals, Pennywaifer said, “Fetching a cup of coffee is a highly transferable skill. Filing and creating Excel sheets are also crucial to my personal development.”
Of course, following Pennywaifer’s tips alone unfortunately won’t guarantee being offered a prestigious internship. There might still be other people who do it better than you.
But if all else fails, McDonald’s is always hiring. You can even fudge the title into an acronym on your resume: McD’s. And McD’s will actually pay you.