I recently wrapped an internship at THE premier publication for Black women—ESSENCE magazine. While at ESSENCE, a young lady contacted me via LinkedIn and was curious to know how I successfully landed this coveted position. I’ll admit, creating a lane for yourself in the media industry, whether it is print or digital, is a strenuous process. There are literally thousands, if not, millions of individuals who are talented and willing to do the necessary legwork to snag your dream internship/job. So how do you set yourself apart? How do you ensure your resume, LinkedIn profile, blog, etc. standout? Here are a few tips that will help you shine bright like a diamond * Rihanna voice *
The Pre-Screening Process
Prior to applying for the internship, you should make certain your online profiles are aligned with your future goals. By now we all should know inappropriate photos/videos of oneself on the World Wide Web is a major no, no. You may believe your privacy settings are top-notch, but it is no match for the tech geek who was hired to break down your firewalls. Also, Google yourself approximately three to six months to see what message you are sending to potential employers.
If you have a blog ensure it is a dotcom, create a logo, even if it’s a simple emblem with your initials. These meek, but cost-friendly steps show potential employers you are a boss babe who should be taken serious! The little things do matter.
You should be attending networking events and making an honest attempt at fostering real relationships. A year before I even considered applying to ESSENCE, I met a mover and shaker in the magazine industry. She has worked for major publications. I maintained communication and worked feverishly to build a genuine friendship/mentor out of this relationship. It turns out she knew the internship coordinator pretty well. I had a sponsor in my corner. According to The Little Black Book of Success: Laws of Leadership for Black Women, a sponsor is an influential individual who has the ear of other influential individuals and brings your accomplishments to the attention of others in the company who also have power to advance your career.
Once you’ve safeguard your online profiles and you have an individual who will champion for you, it is time to apply for that sought-after position.
After you’ve applied for the internship, your sponsor has backed your talents, your résumé was flagged and you received a call/email for an interview, you better be prepared. During my interview, I expressed how well I knew ESSENCE, Time Inc., ESSENCE’s parent company, and the audience it serves. I did not utter any cliché phrases such as “I grew up reading this publication all my life.” Instead, I touched on how ESSENCE is a brand that knows their audience members well. It does a great job bridging the gap between the brand and its community, all while utilizing fresh and engaging ways to communicate with readers. Additionally, I briefly discussed the recent digital revamp. In laymen’s terms I spoke publishing jargon.
Knowing how to communicate in your designated industry is essential. If your dream job is to work for a magazine, you should know by now most publications has discontinued referring to the magazine as just a publication. It is now a brand creating ways to build a community with its members.
While some positions will take two interviews, others will only have one. After your interview process you should not only follow-up with an email, but also send a thank you card or a hand written note. Any one can send an email. A hand written note or a thank you card is more personal. It will find its rightful place on the interviewing manager’s desk, rather than in a pool of generic emails. It will also help you stand out as a person who actually took the time to write, you know with those body parts you use to type, and genuinely say thank you.
I am 100 percent sure if you follow these guidelines you will successfully land that internship. Remember this is only the first step. You have to work 10x as hard, or even harder, once you are in the position. Good luck!