Megan Walsh (@MeganKathleen82 on Twitter) is an English/political science double major with a minor in marketing at the University of Delaware, where she plans to graduate in 2012.
By Megan Walsh
Ever since I was in high school, I wanted to work for Voice of America (VOA), an international broadcasting company that is located not far from my home in Washington, DC. I felt that it combined everything I was interested in: communications, international relations and politics. When I found out they offered summer internships, I was ecstatic.
So, last January, while studying abroad in London, I sent my application back across the pond to DC. Confident in my resume as I was, I only applied to VOA.
I waited. And waited, and waited. No response. Panicking, I applied to other internships in DC, all relating to politics and communications. Then I did the unthinkable: I used people.
I got my cousin, who works with John McCain, to help me find politicians who needed summer interns. No luck. I got my father to ask his engineering company if they needed editors. Again, nothing. I would stay in on weekends frantically writing cover letters. “Ah,” my friends would say, “long report due?” “No,” I would respond, “I’m applying to internships.”
I applied to about 40 internships through my school career site, through Internships.com, through company websites and through friends. Then my advisor suggested that I follow up on my applications.
Follow up? Why in the world would I need to follow up? I already sent them extensive amounts of information about myself. By writing those cover letters, I discovered qualities I never thought I had and experiences that I never thought would be relevant to my career.
Well, it turns out that internship coordinators get hundreds of applicants, and they know that we send so many applications that we essentially mail the same one over and over. By writing or calling to follow up, it shows that we’re actually interested in their organization!
The responses started coming in. I got three phone interviews, which went well. When I called VOA, they told me to immediately drive down for an in-office interview. I was slightly irritated that a phone call was all it took to get an interview, but hey, I’ll take what I can get.
The experience was nerve-wracking and terrifying. The VOA offices are located directly diagonal to the Capitol, a gorgeous, awe-inspiring building, but I marched in and gave the interview everything I had. I left feeling confident, and actually bragged to my friends that my office would have a view of the capital.
Again, I was way too sure of myself. The internship process sure is humbling. I never got the VOA internship. But, after diligently making a few more calls, I got some offers and eventually accepted a marketing internship at the Washington National Cathedral.
To those who are looking for an internship soon, make sure to keep an open mind and never hesitate to show your enthusiasm in the form of a follow-up call or email. They’ll appreciate the effort and you can appease your worried parents by telling them you really did do everything you could.