3 Application Tips for the Summer 2013 Internship Program in Sustainability

01/21/2013 § 1 Comment

By Jessica Plassman, Project Coordinator; Brand and Marketing Specialist

As you prepare your IUOS application, consider the following tips from actual application reviewers:

1. Be strategic about your recommendation.

When choosing who will write your recommendation letter (required to apply) be strategic. Past applicants have failed to recognize that just because a professor or professional has clout in his/her field, they may not have been able to speak in detail about your abilities. While choosing someone who is in a position of authority (i.e. is highly regarded in his/her field) is important, it is equally important that this person knows your work and can provide a detailed summary of your qualities, your job skills, and how you would best fit with IUOS.

Beyond making the best choice in your recommender, don’t be afraid to provide guidelines to your recommender about specific areas he/she should focus on. If you feel there is a specific skill, ability, or attribute you possess that would make you stand out as a great choice feel free to ask your recommender to highlight that area. But don’t just ask them, provide them reasons why and how best he/she might do that. This clearly guides your recommender to ensure that he/she is not creating a cookie-cutter recommendation but one that is tailored to you.

Don’t forget to give your recommender plenty of time and be sure to remind them at least one week before your submission is due.

2. Be specific and provide examples.

As you will find, there are many short answer questions included in the application. These questions allow the panel of reviewers to assess your abilities. Beyond your resume, we want to get a first-hand account of your skills and experience. Too many times applicants provide a one-sentence answer that is both vague and nondescript. Use these questions as an opportunity to point out your strengths. You should approach these questions both individually and as a whole. As you are answering each question, ask yourself:

  • Have I answered the question directly?
  • Have I been thorough in my answer?
  • Have I provided a specific example of an experience or skill?
  • Does my answer highlight my strengths?
  • How does my answer fit within my entire application (i.e. have I been able to point out several different attributes; do I need to add variety in my examples)?

3. Write a strong personal statement.

Some of the applications we receive don’t include a personal statement at all or if they do, it is under-developed. Not providing a personal statement is a missed opportunity! You should use the personal statement as a chance to engage the reviewers and highlight skills/attributes that directly relate to the internship position(s) you are applying for. Providing a poorly written or underdeveloped personal statement gives a bad first impression. Take enough time that you can formulate a statement with a well-rounded argument (i.e. 5 paragraph essay). Be sure to proofread for any spelling and grammatical errors (your entire application should be free of errors like this).

While cover letter/personal statement writing is a skill you will develop over time, it’s important that you see the statement as your first impression to a company. There are many tips online for writing a strong cover letter and if you’ve never written one before now is the time to start reading those tips! Tips can vary depending on what a reviewer is looking for, but in general, a well written, thoroughly executed cover letter that is direct and relevant is a great start. Before you submit your personal statement, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is my personal statement free of errors?
  • Is my argument well-rounded? Is it succinct and relevant?
  • Have I included all relevant skills and attributes that pertain to the position(s) I’m applying for?
  • Have I included examples that clearly align with the position(s) and demonstrate my ability to achieve success?

For more tips and how to apply click here.

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