Landing the job: Some other things to watch out for

Letters of recommendation:

Similar to college applications, many internships and jobs will ask for at least one letter of recommendation. For those new to the process, this might be the most challenging part of the application. Here are some things to remember.

Select people…
…who know you well. It’s difficult for someone who has only met you twice to expound on what makes you a good candidate for the position.

…who have worked with you in a professional or academic setting. Friends or family members are generally not good people to ask.

…who will say positive things. It’s fairly obvious that you want a letter of recommendation to be laudatory in nature.

…have relevant experience in the job you are applying to or hold positions of authority. This will give you credibility in the eyes of the employer.

Give each person you are asking to write on your behalf ample amount of time to do so. Don’t ask three days in advance, if it can be avoided.

Inform them of where you are applying so that the letter can highlight specific qualities that you exhibit which make you a good candidate. This is more difficult if you are applying for many internships or jobs and you will be using the letter for all of them; in that case, ask the person to write about your general abilities and characteristics.

Provide letter writers with additional information beyond what they know about you from personal interactions. This could include a résumé, a transcript or samples of some of your work if you are applying for a job that would also ask for something similar.

Let the people who write for you know how it turned out! If you didn’t get the internship, they won’t be offended. And if you did, they can take pride in helping you accomplish your goal. Either way, they will appreciate being kept informed.

When to apply:

With school and other extracurricular activities, time often passes more quickly than you realize. That can include important deadlines to hand in materials for a job or internship. Each company sets its own dates that also vary depending on the semester, but here are some general time guidelines to follow:

Most companies post information about the next semester’s internship at the beginning of the previous one. For example, spring internship information generally becomes available by the end of September. Start looking months in advance. Some places have extremely early deadlines (The Washington Post, for example, asks for all materials by Nov. 1 for its summer internship). And while that’s rare, if you don’t keep your eyes open, the deadline can pass before you knew the position existed.

The sooner you can get your materials in, the better. This doesn’t mean apply tomorrow for next fall, but don’t wait until the end of August either. Also try not to wait until the day of the deadline. While it’s not necessarily a dealbreaker, it’s probably not a resounding endorsement either.

Don’t be passive about getting a response. If the internship gives you a timeline for when you’ll hear back, allow another week past that date before following up. If there isn’t a specified date, give the employer two to three weeks to get back to you. But if the internship had no deadline, it’s the end of May and you’re hoping to intern over the summer, contact whoever is in charge of selecting interns about a week after applying.

Source: The Social Psychology Network

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