Err on the side of professionalism when applying for an internship or your first “real” job.
By Stacey Jackson
I recently agreed to provide a job referral for a friend. The opportunity to receive a referral — to have somebody on “the inside” vouch for you to a somebody who is in a position to hire you — is a true gift and is often key to getting your foot in the door for an exciting job or internship opportunity in a competitive market. My friend is terrifically talented, and I had absolutely no reservations about speaking on his behalf. On top of that, he has a positive attitude and a great work ethic. Why wouldn't I refer him?
Over the weekend, we exchanged information. I gave him the address and the contact person, and I offered to put in a good word after he had mailed his official application. We were both feeling warm and fuzzy when he dropped the bomb:
“Do I have to write a cover letter?”
YES! Yes, yes, yes! You absolutely, positively, always need to write a cover letter — especially if the recipient of your résumé has never met you. When I looked at him with my are-you-kidding face, he confessed that he didn’t know what to write.
I am always taken aback when bright minds are confused by standard business practices, but I shouldn’t be so surprised. Most colleges aren’t structured to teach students the business aspect of securing a job in their chosen career field. Wouldn’t it be great if colleges implemented mock interviews and offered classes in negotiation across the board? Until then, it’s up to you to cultivate best-practice techniques when applying for a job or internship.