Don't Call Us, We'll Call You

Julie Shenkman
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Q: I usually select accounting internships that are posted at my school. I fax or email my resume and a cover letter. Usually I never get any response. I even went to the career center at my school to see if the problem is my resume. What am I doing wrong?

A: Your resume doesn't appear to be the problem. Actually, the problem may be your approach. In order to get noticed you need to network!

Many students apply to the internship postings found on bulletin boards, giving you plenty of competition. In addition, simply faxing or emailing a cover letter and resume will do very little for you. Your name will strike no cords to the person receiving your information.

Instead of scanning your college's internship board, it's time for you to get personal. Below are two approaches to networking with recruiters. Both approaches will increase your chance of landing the internship you are looking for.

First of all, get to know recruiters. Recruiters visit college campuses year-round. Many accounting firms that accept interns, especially the Big 5 firms, visit campuses to recruit both graduates and interns. How to get noticed:

- Find out when recruiters will be at your college. Go to your campus career center and find out when organizations you are interested in are visiting. If you are interested in Big 5 firms, be prepared to schedule a time slot with a recruiter (this will mostly likely be similar to an interview). Mark all dates on your calendar.

- Prepare to meet with many different recruiters. This requires you to research each company, which allows you to ask appropriate questions pertaining to the organization's internship program. Tip: Visit the company's Web site or call their local office to get answers to the most frequently asked questions. See below for types of questions to ask recruiters.

I know from my research that at the end of the internship KPMG offers its interns a full-time employment opportunity. Does this require relocation?

I am aware of the Deloitte & Touche SELECT Internship Conference. Can you explain the benefits of this three-day conference? What does it offer that a full-time internship does not?

- Bring your resume and personality. Yes, your resume is important, but coming across as a positive, energetic person is even more important. Ingredients for a good first impression include a firm handshake, a smile, and a brief, well-constructed overview of what you have to offer and what you believe they have to offer you.

- Show you want to learn. You want an internship to gain more experience in the field so you can find a job after you graduate. Rather than overwhelm recruiters with your accomplishments, make it clear you want an internship because you know there is plenty for you to learn.

Second, call local recruiting offices, or call the organization for which you hope to get an internship. Speaking with a recruiter one-on-one by phone is not as powerful as meeting with them in person, but it is much better than not speaking to anyone at all. How to contact an employer:

- Consult your school's rules and regulations (cold-calling may not be allowed, so it is important you check this out before doing so).

- Phone the recruiter and say something like the following: "Hello. I am calling to speak to someone who deals with interns. . . Mr. Jenkins, I am an accounting major at the University of Washington. I would like to speak to you about an internship with B&B for the fall semester."

- Speak clearly and be concise. And eliminate the dreadful "um" as much as possible! Make your name and aspirations known to this recruiter. Don't hang up without an understanding that one of you will be in touch with the other at a later date.

I should add that you did the right thing by having the career center review your resume. Realizing there is a problem and taking steps to identify it and fix it is the first step to overcoming an obstacle and getting what you want!

Copyright: 2004 SmartPros Ltd. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.


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