People are gearing up for the summer and many people reach out to me for summer internship requests for New York Angels or any startup looking to hire. In recent weeks, my network has been inquiring about such internships for the younger generation of Freshmen to Juniors in undergrad that are their nieces, nephews, sons, daughters, or neighbor’s kids. I will tell you exactly what I tell them to tell the next generation.
- Do your research
- Know what you can offer and what you want to learn
- Market yourself
- Follow up
The steps above are strongly related to the Perfect your Pitch post, but in a structured use case. The post is a broad based strategy and is meant to be applicable to many scenarios from finding a job to being a more effective networker.
I am a big believer in people hustling to create their own opportunities in a smart, productive and effective approach. I recommend you research which industries you are interested in, then research which new companies are in this space that are in your preferred/accessible location. Taking the time to do this exercise will help you refine your ask from your network and which internship job postings to seek.
To research startups getting funded or publicity, visit Tech Crunch and Crunchbase to get started. For job postings for internships, visit this previous post. If a startup is not listed on a job posting site, then reach out to them directly via email and interact with them on twitter to demonstrate your interest in their product/service.
Using your network is the best way to get opportunities, but defining your ask is incredibly important for people to be able to help you. Clear requests with actionable asks are the best.
The Letter: Market yourself
The practice of developing a compelling letter to market yourself with strong followup will also be a great experience.
Your letter should mention
- What you really like about what the company is doing
- If it is a product/ service/ app, use it, talk about it, show that you have taken the time to learn about it. Talk about the company’s work in the context of the landscape and why you think it is such a great idea. Be genuine.
- What are your strengths and how can you be helpful? Depending on what you want to gain from this experience be sure to emphasize the skills you have and how your skills can be applied to an aspect of the company’s business.
- Providing context for your skills will help package your offering in a succinct format to help the company provide a response.
- Make your availability clear to make it easier for these busy startups
- Include number of hours you can commit per week plus the dates you are available.
- Show your genuine enthusiasm – people should be excited to read your letter and you should demonstrate that you have a strong interest in the company mission. If you are spamming all companies you find, then it will be very clear in your letter.
- To follow up – Use Boomerang on gmail for reminders
- Research and leverage your network – Be specific and clear.
- If the company you are interested in has an application online, then apply there and still write to the company directly. Also consider to whom you should be writing, the Head of Product? Marketing? Lead Developer? If there are two founders, then sort out who is best aligned for you to reach out to. Use LinkedIn for this.
- Really sell yourself as founders are bombarded with emails and incredibly focused on getting their business off the ground and may be caught up in fund raising as well.
Lastly, have a presence online. It is the quick way for startup companies to check you out online and understand more about your goals.
Make your opportunity and perhaps you will also get lucky.