Mistakes to Avoid When Applying for an Internship

If you really want to get the best internship for yourself this summer, then you need to avoid making these six deadly mistakes. 

Internships are a good way to improve your skill and learn from the experience of experts on the job.

Because of the fantastic benefits of internships to students, it is now highly competitive to land good internship positions.

But the problem is that there are some mistakes that can hold your back when applying for internships.

This article explains ways of avoiding those mistakes and greatly increase your chances of getting invitations for an interview.

What Is an Internship?

An internship is a professional learning experience that offers meaningful, practical work related to a student’s field of study or career interest. 

An internship gives a student the opportunity for career exploration and development, and to learn new skills. 

It offers the employer the opportunity to bring new ideas and energy into the workplace.

It is also an opportunity to develop talent and potentially build a pipeline for future full-time employees. 

You can learn more about internships by reading our article on “What is an internship?”

What should one expect in a company as an intern?

If you are getting a placement with a company as an intern, there are some things you should expect.

From the work experience to making new friends and learning corporate guidelines, there are so much to expect.

Below is a summary of what is obtainable in an internship;

  • You will gain real work experience and provide meaningful assistance to the company. 
  • Have a mentor who provides guidance, feedback, receptiveness and models professionalism.
  • You will also gain experience and skills in a particular field.
  • Develop professional contacts.
  • In addition, you will get exposure to upper management.
  • Receive an orientation to the company for which you are interning. 
  • Finally, you will also meet fellow employees who you can go to in the future with questions.

What are the Mistakes to Avoid When Applying for an Internship?


Because of the mad competition that you may encounter during your internship application, there are certain mistakes you must avoid.

These mistakes are so crucial that they can mar your internship application that is why you must avoid them.

#1. Avoid waiting too long before applying for internships

You already know that you have to undergo your period of internship in order to get hands-on experience in your field.

So, if you haven’t already started your internship search, then what are you waiting for? 

Many people are constantly seeking internship openings and they are applying immediately, so you need to also begin yours today. 

If you are applying for fall internships, start sending in materials around June or July. 

Also, if you are applying for a spring internship, you should be looking in October or November.

If it’s going to be a summer internship for you, then you must start looking in October of the year prior.

The bottom line is for you to start looking and applying to these companies prior to the time you are ready to start your internship.

#2. Stop sending generic application materials to different companies

This is one mistake that you must avoid when applying for an internship or even a job.

You must learn not to send generic materials to different companies and expect to get hired.

A major problem with most internship applicants is sending in generic materials – the same resume and cover letter for every single position. 

If you want an internship with a good company, then you must customize your materials for the position and the company. 

You begin to create problems for yourself when every resume and cover letter you send is the same. 

Because some companies have years of experience hiring interns and employees, they can easily tell when they are looking at a document that you’ve sent to 15 other places.

To best customize your materials, make sure you read through the internship or job listing carefully.

If possible, print it out and go through it with a highlighter. 

When you look carefully, you will almost hear the company screaming exactly what should be on your resume or cover letter in the listing. 

For example, if the company says they want someone who is social media savvy, make sure your resume speaks to your social media experience.

This will quickly pique their interest as you are a perfect fit for the available position.

#3. Do not apply to only a few internship opportunities

When it comes to applying to internships, you must avoid the mistake of applying to only a few.

Remember that internships are more competitive than ever before. 

So, if you only apply for a handful of opportunities, then there’s a pretty good chance you will not land one. 

To make sure you land something, you must apply for at least 10 to 20 internships every two to three weeks. 

That way, you will have opportunities to appear for interviews or even get the internship outrightly.

When you receive interview invitations from a few companies that you applied to, then you can stop aggressively applying.

Just know that the essence of this is to make sure you don’t put all your eggs in one basket. 

#4. Fail to follow company instructions

One mistake most interns make that you must avoid is failing to follow company instructions when applying for internships.

But, to be realistic, if you can’t follow the application rules, how will you follow the actual rules of the internship? 

Your application is the first impression you are giving an employer. 

So, if you aren’t following directions during the application, then that first impression won’t be very positive. 

By not following a company’s specific instructions, your application documents could end up in the company files.

This is possible even if you possess all of the qualifications the company is looking for. 

To prevent this mistake from marring your internship application, make sure to read through the company requested process closely. 

For example, they might post their internships on a third-party website, but they might state in their posting that applicants should go to their website to apply.

That is a simple instruction that many may ignore and then have problems later.

#5. Forget to Follow Up

When you apply for internship positions or even job openings, you are trying to sell yourself to the company.

And one of the rules for closing sales requires that you follow up your prospect until you get a yes or a no.

As a result, once you start applying for internships, you must also follow up with the company.

This will help you to get an assurance of whether you will consider your application or you should start looking elsewhere.

A simple formula is to follow up one week after you send in your application to confirm that the company received your materials and to ask if they need to look at anything else. 

If you can’t find anyone to follow up with, use LinkedIn and try to connect with people who went to your school and work at that company.

#6. Not prepared for interviews

Your interview is another opportunity besides your resume and application letter, for you to convince the employer to hire you.

Therefore, after an interview, an employer shouldn’t have to wonder if you really want the position. 

You would want to make sure that you prepare for your internship interview so that you can answer all questions accurately and very smartly.

In addition, make sure you make it very clear to the hiring team that you want the position and that you’d do anything you need to secure the position. 

Being passionate about the job and wanting it is beneficial at this point.

An employer wants to hire someone they know will love and appreciate the job because it’s possible to even turn your internship into a full-time job.


Now that you know the mistakes to avoid when applying for internships, which one are you going to act on immediately?

Will you start applying to more internship opportunities or are you going to start following up all the companies you have applied to?

Whatever the answer may be, drop it as a comment in the comment sections.

Also, don’t forget to share this article with someone you know.

You might just be helping the person.

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