Gone are the days where you go through newspaper classifieds circling internship offers and then traipse around the city to physically drop off your resume to individual company offices. Today, businesses around the world are relying more and more on social media as a means to communicate with and advertise to their employees, customers, clients, product users, and fans alike. No matter where you are on Earth, it is now easier than ever to communicate with your desired organization.
Whether you tweet them on Twitter, mention them on Facebook, or send them a private message on LinkedIn, you’ll instantly be on their radar. Instead of being one of the thousands of applicants who apply for a position online and constantly refresh their email inbox waiting for a response, you’ll already have made yourself known by reaching out to the company directly, thus allowing you to have a far better chance of landing that international internship of your dreams. You can achieve this by using any or all of the resources below... read on for how to use social media to find internships abroad!
These sites are only useful if your profiles are professional, appropriate, and accurate representations of yourself.
Disclaimer: These sites are only useful if your profiles are professional, appropriate, and accurate representations of yourself. If you aren’t prepared to show your future boss your tweets from college, or recent Facebook pictures, it might be worth spending some time cleaning up. A good rule-of-thumb is to delete anything you wouldn’t want your parents, grandparents, or employer reading or seeing. Happy hunting!
- Groups: Join groups that look interesting to you. With over one million groups on LinkedIn, there are some as broad as International Business, and other company-specific ones like Intrax Internships Abroad. Spend some time looking for groups related to the country, language, or industry you are interested in and use this resource to network with others within the group.
- Companies: Follow companies who you would like to have an internship with. They often post relevant happenings in the industry, publish corporate updates, and advertise job openings. Based on your own selections, LinkedIn will also give you a list on the side of “Companies You May Want to Follow”, which may introduce you to organizations you haven’t heard of, or hadn’t previously considered.
- Jobs: Unlike other online job postings, LinkedIn uses the information from your profile to suggest jobs you may be interested in. If you’re not ready to apply for them quite yet, you can save job postings and searches for a later time. LinkedIn also keeps track of the jobs you have applied for on the site for quick reference. You can also use your connections to discover jobs within your network. If you’re especially serious about your job search, you can pay a small fee for Job Seeker Premium, which essentially bumps your application to the top of the list.
Used across the globe, LinkedIn is the World’s Largest Professional Network. Before contacting a company, make sure your profile is up to date. Once you’re comfortable with how your “online resume” looks, start making connections using the following resources:
- Like/Become a Fan: Companies use Facebook to interact with their users and fans. When you “like” a company, you are able to see what articles, questions, surveys, and statuses they are posting. Use this information to determine what is currently taking place at the business, and what is important to them. These extra details can help you tailor your resume, and give you additional points of conversation in a one-on-one interview.
- Engage: If the business does post surveys or questions, be sure to respond! They will see that you’re passionate about their service or product, and will be glad to have your support. Polite and educated posts are appreciated, while partaking in a virtual debate with other posters is a definite no-no.
- Message: If you’ve applied for a job and haven’t heard back in more than two weeks, it isn’t a bad idea to send them a quick message. Remind them what position you applied for and when you applied for it, include a link to your LinkedIn profile, and send them your contact information. A good company should have an employee monitoring their Facebook account, so you may receive a quicker response than sending it to a general company email.
Your abilities to post photos and do the occasional “Facebook creep” are probably well developed. However, Facebook can also be a great way to interact with your favorite businesses and stay apprised of recent developments within the industry.
- Follow: The first step to interacting with a company on twitter is to “Follow” them.
- Tweet: Similar to Facebook, if a business poses a question, or asks for a response, consider replying to them. You can always give them a shout out with a simple tweet like “I love reading the informational articles on @GoOverseas! Their website is a great resource.”
- Re-Tweet: If your favorite brand posts an interesting article, or a fun trivia fact, retweet it to your own followers. The company will receive a notification that you are helping them spread the word.
- Favorite: However, if you find something intriguing, but don’t feel like retweeting it, simply tag the post as a “favorite” to let the business know that you enjoyed it.
- Direct Message: Another way to follow up on a job application is to send a private, direct message to the company (like you would on Facebook), in hopes of getting a quicker response.
Although a tweet only consists of 140 characters or less, Twitter has become one of the most popular forms of “micro blogging”. Known for keeping ideas short and sweet, it’s an easy way to reach out to any company, large or small.
- Explore: This allows you to see what is “hot and recommended” by Google today. There are trending topics to the right, along with suggested communities and pages you might like. Refine what you see by searching for what you’re looking for; perhaps “Internships in China” or “Spanish Nursing Internships.”
- Communities: Similar to LinkedIn groups, this is a way for you to network with other people in your field of interest. As you start building your profile, Google+ will get better at making recommendations that fit with what you’re looking for.
- Google Authorship: Particularly for those scheming to get into any tech or online industries, creating a strong online persona will be a good first step to increasing your employability. Get started writing for different websites and platforms to further your network and strengthen your expertise. Google Authorship will give you a quick portfolio that employers can reference during your internship search. Love the little images of authors that show up in Google search? By using Google Authorship, this could be your cute face!
Still increasing its usership, Google+ is a less popular but more polished social networking site. An easy-to-use interface allows you to quickly browse interesting companies, topics, and communities. Google+ is definitely the future of online social networking, so its best to hop on the bandwagon now!
Don't be limited by these four popular platforms for using social media to find an internship abroad. Get creative! Tap into any online communities unique to your chosen industry. If you excel in a foreign language, consider searching for social media platforms in your host country's local online scene (like RenRen in China!). Creating online personal profiles on websites such as BrandYourself and About.Me will prove to your future employers you are web savvy and care about putting your best foot forward.
- Tweet/post/share about your search. As more people know that you’re looking for an international internship, the chances of you finding one will increase.
- Make a personal website. This can include your resume, writing samples, and other accomplishments, allowing you to break free of the molds of pre-existing social media websites. Bonus: Upload a video resume to visually show your poise and professionalism.
- Have a strong online presence. When a prospective employer searches your name on Google, what will they find? Try it for yourself to see if you need to change, update, or modify anything.
- Timing is key! Don’t overdo it by bombarding the company with messages, tweets, and constant engagement, but don’t be shy in making your presence known.
Remember, if your dream internship doesn’t work out, the most important thing is to stay positive, and be patient. If you keep working hard, someone out there will recognize your dedication and determination, and in all likelihood you may be presented with an exciting position that you never even knew you wanted. It could even be a better fit for you than the one that didn’t work out. Good luck!
Photo Credits: Alex Ferroggiro