For more tips, consult #RGNNadvisor, an interactive section of resources for journalists and communications professionals, helping them to become better communicators and moreover, to pursue a successful career in the media industry.
The internship search can be daunting, and perhaps even more so when it comes to internships abroad. “With so many competitive candidates applying for positions all over the globe, how can I make sure I get the internship I dream of?” many students ask themselves.
Research the company and the specific internship program
As with finding an internship back home, the first thing is to research the company and the specific internship position. With the increased pressure of finding an internship (especially for the summer, the top internship season!), we’ve seen some students with a tendency to apply for any and every internship they come across. University career portals, where you can submit a resume with just one click, have perhaps exacerbated this behavior. Try not to succumnb to mindless application submitting.
Instead, do your research first.
- What are you looking to get out of an internship abroad? Many students see internships abroad as an ideal way to travel. Yes, but there should be something more to that (after all, then you could complete just about any internship abroad). Students applying to our Travel Journalism & Photography Internship Seminars, for example, frequently are looking to get hands-on experience in the journalism field, and specifically, having access to prestigious experts and mentors, and ultimately, having a portfolio of published content at the end of the program to show to future employers – all of which is included in our current programs in Madrid, Spain, and Cuba.
- When researching possible programs, thus think: what type of program will allow me to reach my goals? You wouldn’t want to apply for a position you are not interested in the first place.
- What does the company or organization you are applying with do? What is their story? (Read ours here, by the way)
- What exactly does the program you are applying for include? For internships abroad, this is where logistics such as accommodation
- Which destination are you looking to travel to? How adventurous are you? Do you need to speak the local language for the program? In our case, all ROOSTERGNN Academy programs can be completed in English or Spanish, so you do NOT need to speak Spanish.
If you can’t find the answers to your questions on the internship position or on the company website, you can also email the company directly. At ROOSTERGNN, we try to make as much information available to students on our website. If there is anything that we have missed, just email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
That doesn’t mean you need to know EVERYTHING about the program before the interview. You can also leave some less important questions for the Skype interview. But please, do read through the full program, including possible costs and scholarships that might be available, before you apply!
Accreditations printed for our Travel Journalism & Photography Internship Seminar in CUBA! We have a cool surprise for all students, experts, mentors, and staff, thanks to @41eyewear ! ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• ¡Las acreditaciones para nuestro Internship Seminar de Periodismo de Viajes y Fotografía en CUBA están listas! Tenemos una sorpresa para todos nuestros alumnos, expertos, mentores y staff – gracias a @41eyewear. #RGNNCuba
For our programs, read through these links here:
General information about ROOSTERGNN Global News Network and ROOSTERGNN Academy:
- About ROOSTERGNN Global News Network
- About ROOSTERGNN Academy
- Our Story
- How to Fund Your Internship Seminar Abroad
- Scholarship Requirements
- Experts & Mentors
Information about the Cuba Internship Seminar:
- About the Cuba Internship Seminar
- Cuba Internship Seminar: Program
- Cuba Internship Seminar: Schedule
Information about the Madrid Internship Seminar:
- About the Madrid Internship Seminar
- Madrid Internship Seminar: Program
- Madrid Internship Seminar: Workshops
Look at the application and find out what materials you will need to submit
All of this research should come through in the application you submit. But before you click through to submit quickly, READ THROUGH all the required fields on the application. Almost all companies nowadays will require a CV or resume. Additional requirements may vary, from cover letters to writing samples, to specific application questions to letters of recommendations from professors or future employers. In the case of recommendation letters, knowing whether they are required or not is definitely useful in advance. (You should give your professors or previous employers at least two weeks if not a month to write a letter. Keep in mind these are busy people! Also, be sure to tell them exactly where to submit it!).
In our case, we do not require a recommendation letter for our current programs. We have also decided to replace the typical cover letter with more specific questions pertaining to our programs in the application form.
Why do we not require a cover letter? Simply because we have seen that students tend to submit the same cover letter to numerous companies, and specific questions about why they want to complete our particular program, to be submitted on the application form, actually separates extremely interested candidates from the rest much easier.
Make sure to answer the questions on the application form in a way that your enthusiasm for our program, and why you want to be a part of it, comes through.
If the workshops for a particular program interest you, tell us why. If you have always studied Cuba in an academic setting and now actually want to go there, include that in your application.
Be an active member of the company’s community
Companies and organizations of all kinds are using social media not only to connect with clients, but also with future employees and interns. When researching a company, you should not only visit their website, but their social media profiles as well. This will give you a more up-to-date idea of what the company is up to. Start following and interacting with the company on social media before you apply — in a professional manner, of course.
Keep in mind that this advice will not apply to all companies and will depend largely on the sector you are looking to intern in. If you are looking for a banking internship, the financial sector has a lot more restrictions when it comes to social media than the communications sector, for example. When in doubt, observe how the company presents itself and behaves on social media, and adapt your own social media interactions with the company accordingly.
Communications and journalism have not been the same since the advent of social media, and if you are looking to build your personal brand as a journalist, blogger, photographer or communicator in general, you should start using social media professionally now. As for ROOSTERGNN, our ideal applicants are active members of the RGNN community, and showing your interest in our Internship Seminars can be done by following and interacting with us on social media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin. profiles.
Tell the company where you found out about them!
Our marketing department loves it when they hear exactly how a candidate found out about us.
Be specific – if you remember what you searched for in Google when you were looking for internships abroad, include that. If a university professor recommended our program to you, tell us who.
If you have a friend who is already participating in the program, and you want to see if you get accepted as well so you can share housing, say so. (We cannot guarantee that all friends of accepted candidates get accepted, of course, but if you are accepted, then we will do our best to coordinate housing requests for friends depending on availability).
In a recent Master Class we gave at the Universidad Europea in Madrid, we covered some resume tips and I will repost them here:
- Please keep your resume to one page. Recruiters are busy, so get straight to the point.
- Send your resume in PDF format (not Word). When transferring files from PC to Mac and other devices, Word documents have a tendency to change formatting – you wouldn’t want to have it lose all that pretty formatting you have taken so much time to put together.
- Include updated contact information on your resume. Always use your current phone number. Also, for internships abroad, Skype interviews are common. Make it clear from your resume what your current location is.
- Include relevant experience. Your resume should include positions you have held and your educational details in chronological order, with the most recent at the top and the least recent at the bottom. If you have no previous professional experience (professional experience is not required for our programs, but you do need to demonstrate a passion for the field you are applying for!), then list any student clubs or organizations where you have collaborated or even held a leadership position. For the journalism field, you can even make your resume more interactive and link to published articles or writing samples. Be careful about including academic writing samples, though – chances are, recruiters will not have the time to read through a 50-page thesis!
- Include your educational details. Positions vs. Education should be two separate headings. For education, include your university, major and graduation date. Some programs require grade point averages (GPA) as well. At ROOSTERGNN, we do not actually require a certain GPA in order to complete our programs. Our students come from all over the world, and a 4.0 from a U.S. university may not correspond to the same grading system as that of a student from South Africa, for example. Also, a high or low GPA is not always indicative as to how well a candidate will do in a foreign setting.
- If you have a website and professional social media profiles, include them at the top with your contact information. (If you don’t, then you should think about getting a website and using social media for your internship search! If you do have social media profiles you use as a career tool, follow the company BEFORE you submit your application to show your interest).
- European companies may require a photo on your resume. This is not common in the United States, and at ROOSTERGNN, we certainly don’t require a photo. However, if you are applying elsewhere, research “sample resumes” on Google before you apply to view the customary format. If a photo is required, ALWAYS use a professional headshot, not a party photo! This should be the same photo you use on your social media profiles, especially Linkedin.
- Include your language skills. This is especially important for internships abroad requiring language
Should I submit additional materials not requested in the application form?
Some applicants have a tendency when applying for internships to try to show their enthusiam for the position by submitting additional materials that are not required in the application form (e.g. addtional writing samples, recommendation letters when they are not required, etc.)
While showing enthusiasm for a position is certainly appreciated, keep in mind that recruiters are most likely looking for candidates who can follow instructions. As a first impression, “do as you are told”, that is, follow the exact instructions in the application form. As mentioned above, you are welcome to make your resume interactive, meaning that you can link to additional materials there.
If you are given the opportunity to interview for a program, you can also take advantage of the interview to ask whether you can submit additional materials via email.
Don’t fake it
Above all, be yourself. If you lie on your resume and are then asked about it during your Skype interview, chances are that will not go very well. Don’t state that you speak a language when you don’t – recruiters may test you during the interview.
Show your passion and it will come through.
And if you move forward in the selection process and get a Skype interview appointment, read all about how to prepare for your Skype interview here.