Want An Internet Marketing Internship? Take My Advice

As a former Portent intern myself, this is my first at-bat trying to hire an intern for my department and I must say the process has been daunting. I have found a few wonderful candidates, but for some reason it seems like the majority of applicants seem to be clueless on this whole gettin’ a job game.

Sometimes I blame the school more than the person. I’m a sometimes proud WSU grad, but even my own alma mater won’t retweet my messages.

Calling All Cougs

If WSU fails to spread the word about an amazing internship, I don’t even want to know what they’re teaching America’s youth these days.

If you haven’t noticed, we’ve already written about applying to Portent in the past, but I figured I’d speed up my candidate search by writing about it again. Here’s a few tips on applying to internships and grabbing the attention of the hiring manager (i.e. me).

5 Ways to Grab My Attention and Make Me Like You

1. Follow Directions

Holy. Crap. I can’t believe how many people suck at this. I’m not even talking about little stuff. These are BIG, GIGANTIC, AMAZINGLY HUGEMONGOUS DETAILS THAT IF YOU MISSED, YOU’D NEVER EVER GET A JOB.

I honestly received a cover letter where the candidate forgot to capitalize the last half of anything in the first paragraph.

When I ask for simple things like “Send a one-tweet pitch about what you would like to learn at Portent over the next 3 months to @Portent,” I’m not doing it because of my twisted fetish to make people send out unnecessary tweets. It’s a terrible disease, but I’m getting treatment. I do it because I want to see if you’re competent. Little details are important at Portent. We need people who can follow directions to prevent clients from firing us.

2. Act Like I’m a Human, Not a Machine

Cover letters are a funny thing. You’d think you could write a single really, really awesome version that you could use for every job application ever. Turns out, when you’re on the receiving end of the super general “I want to work for your organization because I’m a team player” cover letter, it makes no damn sense and I don’t want to read it.

Internet marketing takes its roots from creative writing, so if you apply to any gig in this field, bust out your friendly word dinosaur and set your wordsmith skills to STUN.

3. Tell Me Why You Want to Work Here

Portent has a wonderful website (you’re on it right now!). Show me that you’ve read some of our words of wisdom. Mentioning how you think the dinosaurs on the home page look awesome or how our client Full Circle is an amazing service and you’d love to work with them on a social strategy goes a long way. It shows you’re paying attention.

Ian has an amazing blog that we should all read more. Tell me about his 10 Questions to Evaluate a Social Media ‘Expert’ and you’ll get super bonus points.

4. Show Me You Know What You’re Talking About

Remember when I asked you to tell me something you want to learn over the next three months? Why don’t you say something you can actually learn?

Saying you want to “accelerate your current internet knowledge” seems nice in a Charmin oh so soft and fuzzy kind of way, but it’s not something I can really teach you.

Ask for something specific: “I want to learn how to use social media to influence social followers with the most authority” or “Teach me the most effective way to track social media mentions and links through Twitter.”

I know I might be asking too much with some of these examples, but you have to figure the question about “how does social media affect internet marketing?” will come up at some point in the interview, so you’re better off attacking that problem head on.

5. Return My Messages

This is the no-brainer, but it has to be said. If I take time out of my day to answer your email, please shoot me a reply. If you don’t want or need the job anymore, feel free to give me the heads up.

The faster and more efficiently we can communicate, the less time this process has to take.

End call to action


  1. #6. Don’t take work too seriously. In technology most of us are classified by others are ‘workaholics’. I want people around me that push me to excel in the workplace, but also know how to take my mind of work and have some fun. Off topic moments at the office keep my sanity…

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