How to Create an Online Profile That Will Differentiate You
An internship can be a critical step to launching your career. I was fortunate enough to have a fantastic internship in college at NASA Glenn in Cleveland, Ohio. The experience helped me build critical programming skills, which put me ahead as I came back to college for my senior year. I still use the skills I learned in that role today as CEO of Sixth City Marketing.
The recommendations that I’m about to share with you helped me to get jobs in the past. They’ve also helped friends and former students differentiate themselves to land internships and jobs, and I know they will help you.
Additionally, I’ve hired for numerous internships and jobs for Sixth City Marketing and have experience on the other side of the table, which has contributed to the tips that I share below.
Beyond a Resume and a Cover Letter
You’ll certainly need to have a cover letter and resume to submit to an employer. As many will tell you, you’ll want to craft your cover letter and resume to be as tailored as possible to the internship that you are applying to.
You will most likely be able to acquire help on how to structure your resume and cover letter from career services. Let me fill you in though on what you need to do in order to go above and beyond.
Step 1: Create a LinkedIn Page
I’ve found that most students who are looking for internships will create a LinkedIn page. It’s a good way to summarize your abilities and quickly connect with employers. If you haven’t made one yet, do so and link to it in your resume at the top. Other things to do:
- Ask former co-workers and current professors to provide recommendations for you
- Put who you are and what you are seeking in the title of your LinkedIn description. I actually hired an intern last summer because I found her by searching for students seeking internships in Cleveland
I also recommend that you create a Twitter account for yourself. I’ve found that while most do have a Twitter account, these accounts don’t tend to be geared toward networking (with an existing history of tweets). If you want to preserve your personal Twitter account, create a new account that you’ll use only for networking and professional purposes. I’ll expand upon this later in the post.
Step 2: Create a Website for Yourself Using Wix.com or WordPress.com
Believe it or not, wix.com and wordpress.com will allow you to create a website for free. Even so, of the resumes that I’ve reviewed, very few people have their own website. There are many benefits of making one though as it shows the following to your potential employer:
- You’re willing to go above and beyond to distinguish yourself as a candidate for the internship
- You have to ability to create, edit and update a website, which is a skill that many internships or entry-level jobs require (depending upon what you are applying for)
Additionally, you’ll be able to actually see if HR or hiring managers are visiting your profile so you can reach out to them with a message or just add them as a contact.
What to Write About?
I’ve received this question from many people that I’ve given this advice to. My recommendations for your site would be as follows:
- Create an about page that provides a bit of information on you – where you are from, what year of school you are in, and what you are passionate about
- Create a page that contains a PDF of your resume
- Create a recommendations page or testimonials page (you can take these from your LinkedIn page)
- Utilize a blog to write short posts about specific projects that you are working on in class and what your role is in them. An example would be writing 2-3 paragraphs about a group project that you worked on. You could share the final report that you turned in or what aspect you worked on. This ultimately helps employers understand what specific things you are interested in
- Add Google Analytics (a website statistics program which helps you understand who is visiting your pages) to your site. There are features within Google Analytics where you can actually see if a company has visited your page
Here are a few examples of student websites that use aspects of what I’ve described:
- Madison Semler – https://madisonsemler.wixsite.com/website
- Landon Rowland – https://landonrowlandresume.wordpress.com
- Kirsten Bowers – https://kirstenbowers.weebly.com/
Step 3: Record a 1-2 Minute Introductory Video of Yourself
Of all of the people I’ve interviewed for jobs over the years, only one person has recorded a short intro video and sent it to me. I thought it was fantastic. He sat down and gave a quick summary of why he was interested in the job, what he was currently doing and why I should choose him. He posted it on YouTube and linked to it at the top of his resume. The video was recorded through a computer camera and was edited via iMovie – that’s all it took.
I was impressed and brought him in for an interview the very next week. It’s key to remember that this stood out among other candidates whose resumes I was reviewing, so keep this method in mind when you’re compiling your materials.
Step 4: Do Your Research
When I taught at the Ohio University College of Business, I challenged students to create a marketing campaign to market themselves to prospective businesses. To do this yourself you’ll want to:
- Establish your targeted geographic area for where you want to intern (it can be one or multiple cities)
- Create a list of companies and departments that you would want to intern at
- Try to identify people who would be running those departments or are in those departments. You’ll want to look for managers or directors, not necessarily people in human resources. You may want to add human resources reps, though, if you know they are coming to your school for a career fair
Step 5: Turn the Tables and Target the Companies You Want to Work For
Now that you have created your online profile and built your list of companies and individuals to contact, you need to start your online networking.
- Start by connecting/following the companies and the individuals on LinkedIn and Twitter
- Write and post about things that are relevant to your career and online interests. This can be an extension of what you are working on in class and can also include the blog posts that you’ve created
- Respond to the things that the companies are sharing on Twitter and LinkedIn by liking, commenting on it or re-sharing it
- Ask the company questions about specific things they are posting
The key here is to not discuss that you are seeking an internship. It’s to demonstrate your interest in their industry and to network with them.
Inevitably, they may ask about you and what you are working on and are interested in. This is the start to professional networking – to essentially build a professional relationship, which may lead to a dialogue about what internships are available or information on their internship program.
I hope these tips help you land your dream internship. If you have any questions, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck!