Every college student should experience an internship. It’s a great way to gain valuable experience in your industry. According to Internships.com, 69 percent of college interns are offered full-time jobs after completing their internship. However, there’s more preparation to landing an interview than the recent blockbuster “The Internship” portrays. In the competitive world in which we live, it’s important to pay attention to the small details if you want to land an interview that could lead to your dream internship and your possible future career.

The Search

This part can be tedious, but remember, the more hard work you put in upfront, the more rewarding of an experience you’ll receive. Searching for the right internship might take some time. Remember that as you begin your search, most companies traditionally have three timeframes for hiring interns (fall, spring, summer). Keep deadlines in mind while searching.

Tip: Create an excel document with the company name, contact information and the deadline. This makes it easy to track, and you can cross companies off once you’ve applied or the deadline has passed.

There are three websites I recommend to help with your search. All three have similar features, such as creating a profile, uploading your resume and applying right on the site.

All three websites are easy to access and will help you find the results you’re looking for. Before you apply, it’s important you have someone look over your resume and cover letter. If possible, have one of your professors or a trusted advisor give his or her feedback. Imagine if you sent out your resume to companies only to later realize you missed a proofing error (the horror!).

Tip: If you have an online portfolio, don’t be afraid to link it to either your resume or your cover letter. Do anything you can to help make yourself stand out from the competition.

The Preparation

Now that you’ve landed an interview, make sure you’re fully prepared. If you get nervous like I do, preparing will help to calm your nerves.

From my interviewing experience and listening to others about theirs, I’ve crafted a few essential tips:

  • Know where you’re going ahead of time and leave early. Don’t assume your GPS will take you there with no problems – especially if you’re driving into a bigger city.
  • Put together a portfolio and have it in tiptop shape.
  • Do your research. Seriously, this one is important. If they ask you a question about their company and you don’t have an answer, you will look as though you didn’t do your due diligence.
  • Bring questions. Since you’ve done some research, creating questions should be simple. Asking smart questions about the company shows your interest and passion about being a part of their business.
  • Choose an appropriate outfit and iron it the night before. You’re attempting to enter the professional world – dress the part!
  • Practice a few mock questions with a friend. You might feel silly doing it, but it will prepare you to think on your toes and respond with smart answers.
  • Send a hand-written thank you note to those you met. It will remind them of your interview and will mean a lot.

These tips should help guide you in the right direction for a well-polished interview. You’ll arrive early, look great and be ready to take on any question. Remember – the resume gets you the interview, but your experience, knowledge and shining personality will land you the internship. The rest is up to you— good luck!

Do you have any other tips for students to help prepare for an interview?