First impressions can make or break you

by Beacon Staff • February 14, 2007

Experienced students and professors offer a plethora of information for nabbing the perfect internship.,With Emerson's internship fair less than a week away, now is the time to dust off resumes and interview wear. The competition for good internships can be intense, so students should go a step beyond to leave a good first impression.

Experienced students and professors offer a plethora of information for nabbing the perfect internship. They have firsthand knowledge of the process and expertise in the field.

Amy Cherry, a senior broadcast journalism major, knows the importance of an internship when searching for a job. As a result of her internship at WBZ Radio, Cherry landed a position at CBS Radio, WBZ's parent company.

"Make as many connections as you can," Cherry advised.

Teachers and friends can provide invaluable leads on job opportunities and internships, as well as connections to leaders in the industry.

Cherry added, "Always tailor your cover letter to the station or wherever you're applying."

Employers want to know that their potential interns are knowledgeable about the company.

Erica Templeman, a sophomore marketing communication major, echoes the same thought.

"Do your research on what the company is about," she said. "Ask the person who is interviewing questions."

Templeman is taking her experience from WERS and ETIN to a radio internship that is just her style. While talking to members of the WAAF street team, she found out about internship opportunities that the station offers.

Explaining how she got the internship, Templeman remarks, "It's really about putting forth the effort to get the good internships."

She is currently applying for a second internship, along with a number of other skill-building positions. Although she does not expect to get them all, she still suggests applying.

Another piece of advice she has: "Always respond to everything. Thank people for interviews within 24 hours."

A little bit of courtesy will go a long way in impressing future employers.

Talking to friends who have already had successful internships can also aid in the process. Emerson senior Anna Yu has reaped the benefits of following this strategy.

A double major in marketing communication and writing, literature and publishing, Yu found out about an internship at the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center (BCNC) from a friend who was doing observation at the daycare there.

Yu pursued a daycare internship at BCNC since she enjoys working with children, but the center needed her marketing skills the most. She now works there four to six hours per week on a volunteer basis.

One internship was not enough for Yu, who also gave her application to DaCapo Press at last semester's internship fair. By chance, she mentioned a marketing strategy used by Running Press, another publisher under DaCapo's parent company.

Her knowledge of their marketing modus operandi left a lasting impression that paid off.

Yu now balances three classes, two internships, and a part-time job. "It can get a little stressful," she admits.

However, the skills that Yu is developing at her internship will help her in her plans to join the Peace Corps.

To students heading out on interviews, Yu recommends presenting yourself in a way that shows that you want the job. "I try to bring out my energy," she said.

Career Services can also provide professional advice for making a strong first impression.

Sheri Ziccardi, Emerson's director of career services, said she is always willing to help students in their search for internships.

She and her colleagues are available to review and revise resumes. Ziccardi urges students who are preparing for the internship fair to analyze their own strengths and weaknesses. Students should also know the company at which they are applying.

Ziccardi explains, "Knowing as much as you can about the organization can help you determine not only if the organization is a good fit for your needs, but also how to market yourself effectively to that organization during the application and interview processes."

Communication with potential employers is also very important. Ziccardi reminds internship seekers, "Be sure to keep your correspondence with employers, whether via phone, e-mail, or standard mail, both professional and appropriate."

Ziccardi strongly urges students to "dust your digital dirt." In other words, make sure the image you are promoting online is what employers would be willing to hire.

Especially now that Facebook has become open to the public, adjust the privacy settings on your account or keep potentially questionable items offline. Otherwise, potential employers might think twice when they see those pictures of you at last week's keg party or that your screen name is SexiiSweetie657.

Matt Cardin, the associate director of Career Services, offers additional tips for making the most of the internship fair.

"If you have to wait to speak to a company representative, see if company materials are on the table," he said. "Grab the brochure and read it."

Behavior is key, even if among friends at the internship fair.

Cardin cautioned, "Behave appropriately while waiting to talk to a company representative. Be polite and courteous to others around you. The recruiter will notice."

Finally, be yourself and relax. You are your best representative. Head to Emerson's Summer/Fall Internship Fair Feb. 21 at the Courtyard by Marriott Boston Tremont Hotel (1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.) to present your new skills.