How to land a top internship: 5 expert tips from LinkedIn

By: Jordi Lippe-McGraw

With today’s competitive job market, many college students are trying to figure out a way to set themselves apart from other candidates. While good grades and extracurricular activities certainly help, many companies are looking for real-world experience before potential employees even set foot in the door.

How do you go about building your resume before graduation day? Internships.

But, as internships have become more and more popular, so, too, has the competition for them. That’s why we reached out LinkedIn career expert Catherine Fisher, who revealed how best to position yourself to get a top internship.

“While there are specific qualities LinkedIn data has uncovered that will be huge in 2016, such as cloud and distributed computing, stat analysis and data mining, and marketing campaign management, to name a few, there are other ways you can shine for prospective companies,” she told TODAY via email. Here are her top five tips.

1. Update you career profile picture.

“You are 14 times more likely to be viewed with a profile photo,” said Fisher. “Ensure your profile photo is professional, with a clean background, and makes sense for your career. If you’re in a sorority, perhaps having photo from a social event is not the best idea — stick to a more professional look.”

2. Include volunteer experience.

A lot of students don’t have working experience, but they may have a lot of volunteer experience. Include it! “When it comes to your profile and work experience, remember it’s not always what you might think that gets you to the top of a hiring manager’s list,” said Fisher, who added that 42 percent of hiring managers surveyed by LinkedIn said they view volunteer experience as equal to formal work experience, and 20 percent of hiring managers surveyed said they have made a hiring decision based on a candidate’s volunteer experience.

3. Add a summary.

A summary is the place where you can show off your personality a bit more than a list of your accomplishments. “A summary of 40 words or more makes you more likely to turn up in a future employer’s search,” said Fisher. “Incorporate a snapshot of your best qualities into your summary to highlight your accomplishments. You can elaborate on your best skills and unique assets that you could bring to a position.”

4. Keep your personal social media separate.

Those frat party shots might get a lot of likes by your friends, but they certainly won’t from potential employers. “A good rule of thumb is to never post anything you wouldn’t want your mother to see!” said Fisher. She added that 1 in 3 professionals said it is important to keep their professional and social media separate, and that 93 percent of recruiters are likely to look at a candidate’s social profile.

5. Blog.

Between homework, classes and social activities, it might seem impossible to add blogging to your to-do list, but it can help you stand out. “If blogging sounds daunting, ease your way in and kick-start your creativity with short status updates, insights on top stories or industry trends in order to build your brand across the professional community,” said Fisher. “A great way to get on a company’s radar can be to find what campaigns and messaging the company is promoting and establish good will by sharing it with your network.”

How to land a top internship: 5 expert tips from LinkedIn