Dear (Company’s name)
Please accept me as your intern. Pretty, preeetttttttty please? I am not in college, nor do I have any relevant experience….in fact, I am not qualified in any way whatsoever but I still think that you should accept me because…I don’t actually know, I’m just free styling here yo….okay I guess that I’m enthusiastic. And I can do your laundry. Dear Lord, just take pity on me.
This was the cover letter I sent in my internship application, the one that would show companies my promise, my brilliance, my genius. I mean, I used more professional language but somehow I still managed to convey the same desperation. Such is my talent.
Writing the resume was difficult. There was opening the document and thinking, a task I quickly became tired of and started watching Netflix. I finally returned after a few House of Cards episodes later and came around to writing my contact information, but then I remembered that I had to return shoes I bought for prom so I left and went shopping. It was many hours later when I came around to typing about what a mature and responsible lady I was. I sent off my application and prayed for a favor from the internship gods.
I knew that it was going to be difficult, that companies wouldn’t be so willing to take upon a high school graduate as an intern but to receive no replies? For heavens sake, there must be a few companies would see my potential, my ambition, and come to a sudden revelation, Good grief, this girl is special, we must fly her out here! Stan, get the private jet! Obviously they were in denial that such an extraordinary person could possibly exist because that’s me right?
Eventually, after a long while, I received some requests for interviews but was passed over, again and again, for older candidates with fancy college and MBA diplomas. Luckily, one of them accepted me, a startup located on Wall Street.
I received another offer a few days later from someone who was referred to me by one of the previous interviewers who was impressed by my “hustling” but couldn’t hire me due to age. I chose the startup and now for the next two months, I’ll be eating in front of the New York Stock Exchange.
Here are some tips:
Where I looked. Craigslist was my main source of applications in the “jobs” section filed under “internships”. Other resources include internsushi.com, reddit.com/r/internships, internships.com, noodles.org, and mystudentstuff.com. Some responded but otherwise most of them are targeted towards college students and above.
Apply as a human. My greatest weakness (and man was it great!) was my age and lack of experience. To try to impress others with my wealth of achievements in high school was useless, no amount of skillful bragging can overcome the fact that I was much too young and inexperienced to apply. So in my email and cover letter, I tried to format myself as a personality and spoke frankly about applying as a new high school graduate. A robot could give you a formatted “Here are credentials, I am good for this position because _____, thank you for your consideration.”
Always be professional. In one of my interview, the interviewer told me that I came off as very mah-toor in emails and phone exchanges, more so than some of the other college student applicants. She would later on invite me to entrepreneur brunches and refer me to others as an intern candidate.
The application (email and cover letter) was when I showed my personality, now was when I showed that I could interact professionally. I formatted my emails, precise grammar and punctuation were used to convey information concisely, almost robotically.
For example, I never wrote emails in a single paragraph form, each new subject would start on a new line, including the greeting and my name at the end.
Yes, I am going to college next fall majoring in Business Administration, otherwise my backup major is Economics.
I am available to interview at these times:
Prepare. Before an interview, I investigated the company. I made notes on what the company was doing, what changes they made recently (and what I thought of them), and any other information that would show that I was prepared. I also googled the interviewer’s name (if I knew it) or otherwise the executive staff. And then I brainstormed answers to questions that I thought that they might ask me (Why should we hire a high school graduate? Why are you looking for an internship at such a young age? Why did you apply to us especially? What do you think that you might learn? etc.)
In the few days that I’ve been here, I’ve been able sit in on a meeting where pitches to investors were critiqued, and discuss (even offering my own ideas!) publicity strategies over Skype. It hasn’t been a week and already I have gained more real world business experience exposure than all my years before.
As time progresses, I will be writing more posts on moving to New York City and my experience as an intern.
Lucy Chen is an incoming freshman at the University of California Berkeley. She’s interested in majoring business and getting involved in the start-up community. She’s currently doing her internship at a start-up in New York right now.