Getting an internship isn’t easy, so you need to be on your A-game. Also, consider having the right attitude, because wanting it is already winning half the battle. The next step is to prepare, as follows:
1. Start with your resume
Recruiters spend an average of just 30 seconds reading a resume. So, if you get it wrong, you’re out of luck. Here are some tips to ensure that you get everything right.
Step 1: Format
● Boring is better than fancy. Remember, you’re applying for a finance apprenticeship.
● Don’t be afraid of white space.
Step 2: Consider using bullet points
Consider using bullet points to list down and detail your successes. Don’t forget to use active verbs when describing your accomplishments. You can also add some form of numerical measurement, or detail what you did to accomplish them.
Example: a university student who’s in charge of an association:
● Managed the association’s budget.
● Handled a $10,000 budget and invested unused funds in bonds.
● Managed the $10,000 budget and invested idle funds in bonds resulting in an annual interest income of 5% per year.
Step 3: Quantify
People in the finance industry like to see numbers and percentages in your resume because this gives it context. Here’s an example:
● Posted social media invite for a 1-day networking event that received 2,000 likes, 500 finance majors signed up, and more than 95% attended.
2. Write your cover letter
Step 1: Format
● The content doesn’t take up more than 75% of the page.
● You limit the content to three paragraphs, and use two of them to detail your experiences related to the job.
● You include date, address and contact details in the upper right-hand corner.
Step 2: What will you write?
Paragraph 1 is where you write your introduction detailing the role you’re applying for and where you found the ad. You could also add (if relevant) your personal connection to the recruiting firm. Consider mentioning any attendance at networking or diversity events. It’s okay to name drop a network contact but do it tastefully. If possible, write something complimentary about the company.
Paragraph 2 is where you sell yourself. Use bullet points and talk about one or two of your experiences/successes. You can copy and paste the job description and skills required and how they relate to your previous experience and skills.
Paragraph 3 is the conclusion. Add a few words from the job description and summarise the sections relating to your suitability for the job, including your personal details.
3. Network and connect with people
Step 1: Join recruiting and networking events
● Always consider sitting at the front.
● Ask questions but don’t waste the speaker’s time.
● Encourage people to join in the discussion.
● Hand out business cards but do it as quickly as possible.
Step 2: Use email to reach out
Experts recommend cold email outreaching on Tuesday or Wednesday mornings at around 8 a.m. After an event, reach out within 24 hours. If they didn’t reply after one week, consider emailing again. You can say, ‘Just want to follow-up if you’re willing to discuss xxx?’ Use your discretion to make it read/sound better.
Step 3: Talk to people
● Respect people’s time to ensure that the conversation doesn’t last longer than 30 minutes, and end it politely.
● Keep the conversation lively and avoid being boring. Consider asking advice and questions and don’t forget to ask about the ‘fun stuff’ as well.
Step 4: Don’t forget to follow up
● Send a thank you email. It’s essential to make it personal because your intention is to network and get that internship.
● Consider keeping your contacts by checking your emails every three to six months.
4. Prepare for your interview
Congratulations! Your prospective employer has read your resume and cover letter and wants to interview you. So, you need to prepare the usual questions relating to:
● Talking about yourself and your resume.
● Telling them the reason why you chose their company and why you want to work with them.
● Describing your role as an intern.
● Telling them why you chose to work in the finance industry.
Other interview tips
● Try to direct the conversation to a particular topic you like discussing.
● Don’t make it an interview. Instead, engage your interviewer in conversation about a mix of topics.
● Answer with confidence and conviction.
There are several steps needed to obtain an internship in the finance industry. Your efforts with networking, your resume, and cover letter are intended to get an interview. Maximize your success by reaching out to as many companies as you can. However, don’t take the process too seriously. Have fun, and you’ll be surprised by the results!
About the Author:
Lauren Walker is the marketing administrator for Stellar Select, a financial services recruitment agency. The company provides the best match of mortgage and financial service candidates with employers who need their talents. Connect with Lauren at firstname.lastname@example.org.