Think you’re ready for an internship in sales? Read on to learn how to get one and rock it once you’re there.
1. Use your networks
Your first mission as a potential salesperson: Learn to communicate your strengths, what you’re looking for, and why you’d be an awesome intern. You can test the waters by practicing with your family and friends. Once you’ve perfected your pitch, start delivering it to everyone in your networks—your friends’ parents, your parents’ friends, anyone who will listen. This method is tried and true. Just ask our very own Charlie Ryan, who scored several sales internships through personal connections. But don’t forget! An über-important part of sales is listening, so don’t forget to do that. Ask your contacts about their companies and companies they do business with. Do they regularly hire interns? What types of tasks do they do? Are there certain tasks that aren’t getting done on a regular basis? Then you can zoom in and save the day by explaining how you’d be perfect because X,Y,Z. Boom. Nailed it!
2. Target companies by prestige
I’m about to get really real with you. Not all internships are created equal. Some of them do not pay or only offer a small stipend that will barely cover your living expenses. Others have about 0 chance of ever turning into real jobs. The good news is, there are some internships out there that will rock your world. If you want to pursue one of those, check out Glassdoor’s Top 20 Highest Rated Companies Hiring Interns Right Now.
Current and former interns gave their companies an overall ranking and an interview difficulty ranking, and you can also check out average monthly base pay (ka-ching!) and sample interview questions (hint: they’re hard). Bonus! I’ve already gone to the trouble of investigating which of these companies regularly hire sales interns, so here you go: Google, MTV Networks, GE, Johnson & Johnson, and Cisco Systems.
2a. Or by size
When going after the big dogs, if you’d like to hedge your bets, you might want to consider applying to one of the companies that hires the largest number of interns on an annual basis. In 2012, Forbes compiled a list of American Companies with the Most Internships Now. This is a good place to get some ideas if you’d like to up your chances of getting accepted. If you’re looking for a sales-specific position, try Enterprise, IBM, Liberty Mutual, or Penske.
3. Find a company you like and pitch them your idea
You are an independent thinker, not one to follow the crowd. You’re organized and disciplined. You don’t need anyone to tell you what to do, because as soon as you step into a situation, you take mental inventory, Terminator-style (although in a happy, healthy way).
If this sounds like you, forget about points 2 and 2a above. Instead, focus on companies that you love or admire; companies where you would willingly wake up at 5am just because you’d be bursting with excitement to get your day going. You really want to narrow your focus here, because you’re going to present each of these dream companies with a detailed proposal about why they should hire you as an intern and how you would make yourself useful to them.
If you’re targeting companies that have never had an intern before, some of them may just brush you off. But you never know! Some companies might admire your gumption and give you a shot. You just won’t know ‘til you’ve tried!
Bonus, part one
InternMatch has a great little breakdown of what sales internships usually involve, plus listings of sales internships by location.
Also, don’t forget to check out AfterCollege for awesome internship opportunities.
Bonus, part deux: Your tools for success
You’ve got the internship, woohoo! I have a feeling you’re already a pretty savvy individual, but here are some resources to help you make a positive impact professionally.
Start with the Top 13 Intern Tips from Employers on InternMatch. This covers everything from résumés and cover letters to how to get the most out of your time at the company. Required reading.
Watch Intern Sushi’s video on how to Read The Room. This covers the basics of working in an office and interacting with supervisors. And don’t miss Listen Up: Be All Ears for useful info on how to make the most of the information all around you.
Homework time! Decide on a number that sounds doable to you, like 10 or 15 minutes. Pinky swear to yourself that you’ll spend that much time coming up with a more detailed plan of attack for securing an internship.
P.S. Have an internship success story or struggle? Share it with us in the comments section.