I've looked at a lot of intern applications recently and many belong on a what-not-to-do list. After getting frustrated of seeing the same mistakes happen over and over, I decided to write this in the hope of saving at least a few interns from such a fate (for my sake as much as theirs). Getting an internship in a recession can be tough -- getting an internship with one of these mistakes might be impossible.
1. Creating your cover letter with a quick search and replace.
If you seriously think I haven't noticed that your cover letter is entirely generic and doesn't mention anything specific about my company... well let's just say you're not getting hired. If you don't take the minimum amount of effort to add at least one sentence describing why you're right for this specific company, why should I take the time to give you an interview? And, no, saying that you're looking forward to our "fast-paced environment" does not count as unique. I even had one intern apply without even bothering to search and replace, the cover letter had another company's name in it. Ouch.
2. Submitting a resume that's not skimmable.
I have too much work to do, that's the reason you're getting hired in the first place. Maybe, it's different for bigger companies with full-time recruiters (I doubt it), but I don't have the time to fully read every resume. I skim. If skimming your resume tells me nothing interesting, I'm going to think you're not interesting. Oh and bonus tip, do not start with your high school experience. Once you're in college, people rarely care about your high school awards or extracurriculars.
3. Giving only one specific interview time.
I promise I do remember what it's like being in college. You have a lot of things going on and it's hard to fit in interviews in-between classes, going to the gym, studying, your club meeting, and being hung over. But, if you tell me that only time you have available this week is 4:15 on Thursday, I'm going to think you don't really care about this job.
4. Saying you've been too busy to check out our site.
If you're too busy to check out our site, why am I talking to you? Although I don't know what's worse, saying that straight out or pretending that you've checked it out when you really haven't. Let me give you some advice -- an interview is different from class. You can't just BS your way through it (sorry, professors). I will know if you haven't done your research and that will affect my decision.
5. Missing or being late for an interview.
I almost didn't include this one because I thought it was too obvious, but it's happened enough that I think it's necessary. Being "on-time" to an interview means being a few minutes early. If you're actually late, I'm gonna think you'll be late for work too.
By now, you may think I'm just making this stuff up, but I swear it's all happened. So, if you care about the company, take some time on the application. They'll notice if you don't. It's much better to take the time to a do a few applications well than to apply to a bunch of places haphazardly.
So, have you ever seen or made mistakes like these? Which other big mistakes am I missing?