In July 2007, I landed my dream internship with the Detroit Red Wings. Two years later, I’m still interning for the Wings and counting my blessings every day. So how did I land my dream internship? I’m here to share a few tips:
1. Research the internship early on.
During the summer between my freshman and sophomore year, I started to investigate internship opportunities in the sports PR field. I checked out the Wings’ internship offerings and noticed a few things. First, the earliest you could apply was junior year so I knew I had about a year to improve my resume before applying. Second, I saw the qualifications they had (ex. ideal majors, experience, etc.). I was then able to prepare myself for the internship.
By researching well before you would apply for the internship, you have a chance to work towards your goal. You can see what responsibilities you would have and make sure that you are well-qualified to handle those. Do you need to be able to receive school credit for the internship? If so, you know that you’ll have to apply for credit and make sure the appropriate steps are taken to do so.
2. Start small with other work experience.
It’s unlikely, but not impossible, that your dream internship will be the first internship you land. That means you need to start getting work experience now as you gear up for that ideal internship. You can get experience by volunteering at different sporting events (ex. run the registration table for the local marathon or assist at the pro team’s fan convention or charity event). Get involved with extracurricular activities at your university whether it’s writing for the school paper, which is great if you want to work in a PR or new media department, or being the PR chair for a student organization. Intern in your school’s athletic department or find a minor league team (baseball, hockey, etc.) to get firsthand experience. If you have a variety of experiences, you’ll show your dream team that you’re prepared for their internship.
To increase the likelihood of nabbing an internship with the Wings, I became a game night intern for a minor league hockey team in the OHL and also started writing for the Michigan Hockey publication. As a result, I showed that I had a passion for the sport of hockey and gained experience with organizations that the Wings would be familiar with.
3. Take the right classes.
Some internships only accept applicants who have certain majors. This goes back to the first point. If you know your dream internship only looks at individuals with PR, journalism, or communications majors, make sure you’re majoring in one of those or taking as many of those classes as you can on the side. In addition, make sure you set aside credits to use for the internship in case the company requires that.
Networking isn’t about seeing what other people can do for you so that’s why it’s important to start early. That way you can provide value to the other individuals and establish a relationship before you ask for anything. Try to reach out to people working at the company you hope to intern at. Give them a call, send them an e-mail, or connect with them via Twitter or LinkedIn. If possible, set up an informational interview and even see if you could shadow them for a day.
Be on the lookout for any opportunities to attend a presentation or talk done by the dream company. The VP of Communications for Ilitch Holdings, Inc., which is affiliated with the Red Wings, spoke at a high school in Ann Arbor. I went to hear her speak and was able to pass along my resume after the event. She put me in touch with one of my bosses and helped me land an interview when they were looking for interns.
5. Plan ahead.
You know that you want to apply for this dream internship of yours so start early. Make sure you know when to apply so you don’t miss the deadline. Start crafting a resume and cover letter now and take the time to have others look it over well before you have to turn it in.
Save money. If your internship is in another city or even state, you may have some added costs to worry about including housing and transportation. If your internship is unpaid, how will you take care of those costs? If you know in advance that you want to do this, start saving money now to put away for the internship so you don’t have to worry about finances preventing you from taking that dream internship.
What about you? What tips do you have for SPRB readers hoping to land that dream internship? If you have landed your dream internship, what was it and what did you do to get it?