What Employers Think About Interns

By Anne Brown

In the next few weeks, interview waiting rooms will be spilling over with entry-level applicants far more likely to walk out with a few new Facebook friends than job offers. If you don’t have any real-world work experience on your resume, your chances of getting hired are practically zero. The solution? You need an internship now!

If you haven't even started looking for an internship yet, there's still hope. To help you secure an internship, we interviewed several senior level staff at companies currently looking for interns, and they had plenty of advice to offer.

The bad news is that in the near future, most interns are going to be unpaid. It’s just basic supply and demand. In a recession, companies have to cut costs where they can. It’s hard for many companies to justify paying an intern when they are slashing salaries and laying people off.

On the other hand, the good news is that companies still need interns. But the competition for internships is getting fierce. Here are some tips employers want you to keep in mind when applying for internships.

Cover letters still matter.

Dillon Ford is the Marketing Manager for ePromos.com, a promotional products company based in New York, NY. His company hires interns interested in marketing. He says not sending a cover letter is a huge mistake.

“When I look at resumes, I always look at the cover letters first because those give me the best sense of what kind of writer they are, what kind of interest they have in the position, and how well they are able to put concepts together to make a statement.”

Ford adds that template cover letters are just as bad as not sending one at all. He says intern hopefuls who submit form letters “aren’t relating any of their experience/interest to the job posting, they aren’t mentioning anything about what drew them to the job description/posting/company and that just shows me laziness. We don’t want someone that can’t be bothered to do some kind of due diligence to get a position. We want someone that goes out of their way to get this position – and that usually means doing research about the position and the company.”