Whether you’re going for your first job or your 15th, the process of applying, interviewing, and, hopefully, being hired can give you all the feels. After much research and countless sent resumes, I know the experience well. It’s daunting — because as soon as you hit “Send” on your application, what happens next is at the whim of whoever’s on the other side of the inbox.
I was always curious about the inner workings of the other side of the process; about what the hiring manager does and thinks and looks for when they come across your application. So, to get the scoop, I turned to the team who hired me.
Here are tips from the D Custom team for scoring a marketing internship — or pretty much any job.
Paul Buckley, president — keep it short and relevant
A short cover letter is key. What they want to do in life, how they want to contribute to the world, what they are passionate about … not so helpful. I think applicants have a tendency to write too much. They have a better chance of getting noticed if they quickly convey an understanding of what we do (they take the time to review our website and services) and offer some ways in which they could contribute or highlight specific areas they want to learn more about.
The best applicants have a clean, easy-to-read resume (no graphics, etc.) and ideally some relevant experience, be it through work, other marketing internships, or college projects.
Michaela Brandt, digital media strategist — pay attention to detail and go the extra mile
My process centers on a few basic but crucial things: attention to detail, relevant experience, company-culture fit, and a willingness to go above and beyond.
First, I sift intern applications through a series of filters, starting with seemingly small elements like file types (PDF, please) and naming conventions (think: “MBrandt_Resume.pdf” instead of “resume3.pdf”). From there, I check the format, tense, and grammar throughout and ensure the resume is no more than one page of relevant experience. I also love resumes that include a URL to a personal portfolio or up-to-date LinkedIn page.
After reaching out to my top on-paper candidates for an interview, I tend to hire an applicant who:
- Brings copies of his/her resume.
- Asks relevant questions about the role/company that shows they’ve done their research.
- Smiles, makes eye contact, and carries a conversation well.
- Follows up after the interview with a thank you email/card.
Cory Davies, director of client services — do your homework and do what it takes to stand out
I always offer our interns a sheet of unwritten rules geared toward success in their marketing internship and agency life in general. Included is a list of interviewing basics:
- Resumes are not autobiographies — craft your resume and cover letter to the job you are pursuing.
- Research the agency and the people you are interviewing with beforehand.
- Repeat to yourself before you walk into an interview, “I want this job because eventually I want that job.”
- Dress not to impress but to convince.
- Make an extra call, send an extra email, and do whatever it takes to ensure success.
- Always ask yourself, “Why not you, why not now?”
- Take calculated risks. Be the one to say, “I’ll do it” and look for the dare-to-be-great opportunities that make you unforgettable.
Abby Kinsinger, editorial director — proof everything
Sending your resume in with a typo is like coming in to interview with a stain on your shirt. You don’t want to be Stain Guy, do you? Do what you need to do to get your resume looking good and error-free: Send it to your editor friend, use a campus resource if you’re in school, or even pay a professional to proof it. It’s worth it.
Also: Less is more. A few powerful sentences about who you are will do more for you than a painstakingly long introductory email. This applies to your resume and cover letter too — sell yourself and be awesome, but get there.
Jonathan Silverberg, art director — get out of your comfort zone
I’ve had many marketing internships, and each time, I remember being unable to fully grasp what being a good intern entailed. Unfamiliarity would sink in, and, inevitably, I’d become quiet; not speaking until spoken to. Now that I’m on the other side of the process, I’ve pieced together an understanding of what makes applicants stand out. Here’s what I wish I’d known back then:
- When it comes to creative roles, don’t be afraid to show your style. Producing a resume that is even slightly designed instead of a Word document gives me a glimpse of who you are and what to expect from you.
- Ask questions! It shows you are eager to meet and exceed expectations. Asking the questions that will help you create quality work demonstrates commitment and self-management. Ask questions during your interview too: It’s a two-way conversation that should benefit both sides.
- Speak up. Demonstrate a willingness to learn from others by actively participating in conversations. Just a few engaging questions will speak volumes. I’m the first to understand that talking to people you don’t know can be difficult, but holding a conversation not only shows initiative, it also proves your ability to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. A top priority of internships is learning, so it’s up to you to express and explore your interests.
And, as a current intern, a little on what I’ve learned: You get out what you put in, so engage with the process as much as possible. Trust that the people hiring you know that everyone must start somewhere, so express your willingness to learn and your appreciation for all opportunities.
Looking for a marketing internship in Dallas? D Custom is seeking awesome candidates for its fall intern program, which runs from August 28–December 4, 2019. Apply here or send your resume and cover letter to [email protected]