Finding an internship – To know what you really want

Since when I received the offer letter from AhaMove, which was few months ago, some of my friends have asked me about where and how I found and got this internship. Those questions are not easy. First, it is because, to be honest, I don’t think I am the best person to answer them; I am not any recruiter, just a rising junior with barely any experience and this is just the first internship I have ever had. Second, there are too many things I have learned from that long applying process to share in only few words. However, there are few things I consider to be the most important when one’s looking for an internship, and do really want to share them. Hopefully they will be helpful to anyone who is looking for an internship or is having problems finding one.

I used to believe that determination is the most important factor when one is looking for an internship, since the application process can be very frustrating. Day by day you have to put much time and effort in it, browsing through hundreds of programs, researching carefully about the companies, preparing and polishing your resumes and cover letters. However, most of your emails may go not responded. If you are a bit luckier, the employers may be kind enough to send out some rejecting emails after having a glance at your profile.

Yes, admittedly I am exaggerating, but about the details only, not the level of exhaustion and disappointment you may have. A senior once told me that she had to applied for around 50 programs before finally receiving the offer. For most of us, finding an internship could be very tiring and discouraging, and we all need some kind of mental preparation. With that in mind, I started to look for a summer internship believing that as long as I remained determined, persevered and kept my hopes, at the end things would work out.

The first application I sent was never replied. It was nothing and I was still very calm. Then the second, third, fourth and fifth. “This is just one-tenth of it”, I said to myself, mentally prepare to do 50 applications if necessary. However, probably because I’m not much of a patient person, before the 50th email was sent out, I started to believe there must be something wrong.

I started to sit down to think. Then, I realized my problem was that I did not have any focus. I applied for various programs, ranging from financial services (because I was an INBM major and thought it could be a good fit) to accounting (because of my interest in working with numbers) and data analysis (because of my beginning passion for data science). I tried all kinds of programs in all kinds of companies, small, medium and giant corporate. With no particular target in mind, I found my time and effort spread out wastefully, my cover letters and resumes too general and not convincing enough.

Therefore, I stopped sending out countless emails everyday, beginning to think of what I wanted my summer internship to be. I was mostly interested in numbers and data, so a data analyst’s job should be a good fit. I also believed that a start-up in which the boundary between employers and employees does not exist would be the best environment to learn, and hoped to work in a company based in Vietnam since I had not been home for 9 months. I listed out several aspects of a desired internship of mine. With more specific targets and less options, I was able to focus better, further polish my applications, and show more of my passion. Finally, I was able to secure a position in the Operation department at AhaMove.

I realized how important it is for one to know what he or she really wants when looking for an internship. I would not say it would 100% help you find one; success in job-searching depends on many factors including both luck and talents. However, having a particular goal and being able to focus your effort on it definitely give you a better chance.

Therefore, to anyone who are or will be looking for an internship or a job, my advice is that sometimes you need to slow down a bit. Determination is good, but every now and then you will need a moment to reflect on yourselves and your desires. With a clear target and an unstoppable will, time is all that’s left before you can get what you want.

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