Rujuta Neve is a Sr. Talent Acquisition Coordinator at NFP where she leads the National Internship Program, including the selection and recruiting of interns.
Here is what Ru had to say when we asked her about the internship cycle:
What is the purpose of internships?
Learning does not just take place in the classroom. Participating in internships can provide students with a wealth of benefits. To me, the main purpose of internships is to explore different career paths and establish your career goals. As a student, if you think you know what type of job you want after college, an internship is an opportunity to do a test run and explore this potential career path. Internships help you figure out what you do and don’t like. Additionally, internships help apply the knowledge gained in the classroom to real-world experiences. They give students experience in the career field they want to pursue and provide an invaluable chance to forge important professional connections before they even graduate. An internship gives you the opportunity to understand how the professional workplace operates and to learn all about workplace culture, employee relations, and leadership structure, which helps when you start your first job.
When should you begin applying for internships?
It is a good idea to apply for an internship as early as possible, even six months prior to the intended start date. Typically, for a big employer, summer internship applications begin in autumn of the previous year. Employers usually receive the heaviest volume of applications between late February and early April. If you do not find the right internship by late April, do not give up! Keep in mind that employer needs can change quickly at any organization and especially mid-sized or smaller ones. Consider refocusing your search on smaller companies. Some employers, especially smaller companies do not start their intern search until late spring or early summer.
What are your top resume do’s when it comes to applying for internships?
One, make it easy for the hiring manager to see why you are the right fit by tailoring your resume to the targeted role. However, remember, do not steal language directly from the job descriptions; translate your experience such that it matches the job requirements. Two, do not freak out if you have no experience. List all of your transferable skills, related side projects, and relevant coursework. Three, format your resume properly and proofread it a couple of times to make sure there are no grammatical errors. Keep it simple—a clean format is noticeable! This will give you an immediate advantage when prospective employers sort through piles of resumes.
What are your best practices for acing an internship interview?
First, be prepared for the interview. The most important thing one can do to prepare for an internship interview is to learn about the company. Knowing the company’s goal, vision, and mission will help you answer the interviewer’s questions, prepare thoughtful questions, and show interest in the company. Start your research by visiting the company’s website. Then, check out the company’s presence on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Instagram, and familiarize yourself with the content. Second, practice, practice, practice. Practice answering interview questions aloud prior to your interview. This practice will help you formulate ideas and the best way to present them. You can also schedule a mock interview with a counselor in your career services office at your college or with a friend or family member who is willing to help and able to provide constructive criticism. Third, be confident and show your passion. Do not be afraid to show your excitement for the internship! Even if you do not have a lot of experience in the field, your passion will shine. Confidence is contagious. If you sound confident then you are likely to make the employer feel the same way about you!
How should you follow up after an interview?
Send a thank you note. After your interview, you can send a thank you note to the hiring manager or recruiter. Keep it short and sweet. Mention something specific about the interview or what you learned/liked about the company. End the note by mentioning how much you are looking forward to hearing from them. If you do not hear back from the hiring manager or recruiter by the date they said they were going to get back to you on for the next steps of the process, send them a quick follow-up email. The content can be brief. Reiterate your interest and excitement about the role. Say something positive about the organization and tell them you are looking forward to hearing from them soon.
What are three ways you can make the most of your internship experience?
One, network as much as you can and find a mentor. An internship is an opportunity to be surrounded by people actually working in your desired field. Try to connect with as many as possible, and ask them questions about how they got where they are. Try to develop a mentoring relationship with someone who you admire. A good mentor will help you prosper and will probably stay in touch even after your internship ends. Two, ask for more work and be proactive. Volunteer to take on more projects, no matter how small they are. Going the extra mile demonstrates your work ethic, which is something employers consider when making hiring decisions—and everyone is always appreciative of a helping hand. Three, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask thoughtful questions and soak up as much information as you can.
Once an internship ends, how can you stay connected with your colleagues?
Connect and engage on appropriate social media sites. LinkedIn is the most powerful tool to stay connected with former colleagues. You can use LinkedIn as a way to periodically re-engage with them. Occasionally like or comment on updates and articles. However, beyond LinkedIn, gauge what’s appropriate when connecting through other social platforms. You can also periodically send notes and email updates. I feel that has been the easiest and personally the most powerful way one can stay in touch. Even a simple email over the holidays saying, “How are you and how is everyone at the office? Happy holidays to you and your family” with a quick update about how you are doing goes a long way.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Let go of perfection. Once you give up on trying to be perfect, you allow yourself the opportunity to be good.
Rujuta Neve is a Sr. Talent Acquisition Coordinator at NFP where she leads the National Internship Program and manages University recruitment and relations. Apart from the internship program management, Rujuta is heavily involved in onboarding new hires at NFP, making sure everything goes smoothly and the new hire feels welcomed and well equipped. She also advises and trains recruiters and internal key stakeholders on U.S. immigration requirements and stays up to date on current recruiting practices to better drive continuous process improvement and excellent service to candidates, hiring teams, and recruiting partners. She grew up in India and graduated with a M.B.A. in Human Resources. She is passionate about helping the next generation of talent in their development as professionals and strives to make the recruiting process engaging and personable.