Q: I had a summer internship cancelled during the summer of 2020. I was disappointed, to say the least. I am still interested in that company, but not sure how I should go about re-applying. I am graduating in December, 2022. The summer of 2020 seems like so long ago. I am not even sure if they will remember me. They may be in a different place, vs. where they were in January, 2020, when I first applied for this internship. I am unsure of how to approach them.
A: Seize the day is what I say! The world changed in March, 2020. Let me share some data with you. I just shared this information with a professional association in Massachusetts. In April, 2020, the unemployment rate in the Bay State was over 17%. Seventeen percent is wildly high for Massachusetts, or any state! Now, the unemployment rate is hovering just over 3% in Massachusetts. Usually, the unemployment rate moves a percentage or two, or even just a tenth of a percentage or two. COVID-19 impacted our personal lives and our work lives. This pandemic has touched almost every inch of the globe. While we are returning to some normalcy, many employers are struggling to find talent. Many dropped out of the workforce, whether a baby boomer who has retired or a professional who “hung a shingle” and started their own businesses.
Here are my recommendations:
- Contact the company and re-introduce yourself. If you have a contact at this firm, reach out to that person. It may be a recruiter, a hiring manager, or even a friend. It is important to re-establish this relationship. Share the history of securing an internship that was then cancelled by COVID.
- Connect with a few people associated with that company, including your original contact if they are still employed by this company.
- Follow the company on LinkedIn and research the changes since 2020. Has their website changed? Has their leadership changed? Are they hiring? Have some offices closed while others have remained open?
- Dust off your resume and update it. Tailor it to the company. If the company is a non—profit, emphasize the non-profit experience in your background. If the company is in tech, make sure you play up the tech experiences and minimize the other experiences. You should NEVER fabricate a resume. You can however move bullets up, down or eliminate them altogether. You can have more than one resume. Maybe one is focused on sales and another is focused on project management. You need to make sure that you don’t confuse them or call them J. Smith version one and J. Smith version 2, or something similar.
- Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date. Profiles with a photo get a longer look, so make sure you have a decent photo uploaded. You do not have to use a professional photographer unless you want to. Many have a friend or family member take a photo using a phone. Wear a decent shirt or blouse. Your background should be neutral. The background could be a brick wall, a neutral wall or against a few trees. Although I love dogs, they probably shouldn’t be part of your photo.
Finally, don’t sit on the sidelines. Reach out and re-connect. What if they are hiring and you never pursued a possible role? Even if the company is not hiring employees for your level, you have nothing to lose. Seize the day!
Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Boston.com Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.