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How You Really Should Be Applying For Internships


By: Jess Stefanowicz, Account Associate

Every time I pictured myself as an adult in the working world, I always pictured the same city, and the same industry: New York City and fashion.

But I went about it all wrong.

As soon as December of my junior year rolled around, I signed up for accounts on every major internship/job search database I could find such as, PR Couture, and Glassdoor. By the time March rolled around, I had applied to over 60 internships…and I got ONE interview out of it. I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong. I thought for sure that something would come out of it.

It wasn’t until I attended Penn State PRSSA’s ‘Plugged Into PR’ conference last February that I got the opportunity that would change my life. I was really excited to meet Samantha Cooper of Trend Tribe, a jewelry company powered by a campus ambassador/mentorship program. I was really disheartened to learn that she had to cancel last-minute due to a family emergency. Something inside told me that I had to get in touch with her. I sent her one of the most detailed and well-thought out emails of my life. After exchanging a few emails, she officially offered me the position as the PR/Communications Intern for Trend Tribe at their headquarters in New York City.

So what made this opportunity different from the rest? For applying to the Trend Tribe internship, I chalk it up to 3 factors:

I was passionate about the opportunity. Sure, I could have kept going on and sending hundreds more applications online and hope that someone would read it and offer me an interview. But the thing was, I was not passionate about many of those opportunities I applied for. In my desperation to just get SOMETHING, I banged out more applications than I could keep track of, and it got me nowhere. I had known for a long time I wanted a fashion opportunity, and this was one right in front of me that I could not pass up.

I did my research.  Before I sent that initial interest email, I made sure that I knew everything that a person could know about Trend Tribe before I even applied. With a quick glance through the #trendtribe hashtag on Instagram I was able to find out how Trend Tribe sponsored a philanthropy event for my sorority at another school, which gave me a great opener for my email. (Bonus point: my boss later on told me that what she loved most about my inquiry was how she could tell I did my research and knew what I was talking about. Score!)

I aimed for real human contact. This time, I knew that there was a real person at the receiving end of my inquiry that was not generated by an online database. It took a few extra minutes to search for her real email address, but it was all worth it in the end when I saw a response from her within 24 hours.

So I guess my piece of advice is this: sometimes databases and “cold applications” work, but it’s the well thought out, heart-felt applications that are going to give you the biggest chances of success.

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