Student internship guides

The Ultimate Guide to Following-Up

Brown arrow 21 Written by Nathan Parcells on Nov 16, 2011

Not following-up with employers is a bit like cramming for a final and then falling asleep an hour beforehand and missing the whole thing. You did all the heavy lifting, but will probably still get a zero.

As absurd as this may sound, even the most organized and hard-working students fall victim to a similar problem every year. They send internship applications, but don’t follow-up with the employers, leaving a high percentage chance that their application will get lost in the mix.

Following-up well is one of the most important and overlooked aspects of getting an internship, so take note.

What IS a follow-up?

A follow-up is a simple email or note, thanking someone for taking the time to meet or speak with you. A follow-up helps you build rapport with an interviewer or contact and lets them know you are a professional and comfortable communicating in a professional setting.

Most importantly though, a good follow-up makes sure you stay top of mind when a hiring manager makes the difficult decision of selecting who gets an internship and who doesn’t. More often then not, when there are multiple qualified candidates for a role, the hiring manager will pick the person who “feels” right.

“So wait, you’re telling me that a simple email, that I can write in 2 minutes, might be the tipping point that lands me my dream internship???”

Exactly!

Scenarios and Examples

Follow-ups are more of an art than a science. When done politely and thoughtfully, they will leave a lasting positive impression. When done awkwardly or aggressively, they can get you branded as a pain in the behind. Ultimately, they are so important and so commonplace in the professional world that it is absolutely essential that you learn the follow-up process and commit to using them.

TIP: Remember that most hiring managers are busy, so be considerate, direct and keep it brief.

Below are different scenarios where you should follow-up and some best practices on how to ensure that your message shines!

1.) After an interview!

You should follow-up after every interview you have, no exceptions! This email should be sent either the day of the interview or the day after. It should be brief and thankful. And, if you would like, you can reference a part of the interview in which you feel like you connected with the interviewer, but you want to avoid coming off like a suck up.

Ex. 1

“John,

Thanks for taking the time to interview with me today. It was really interesting to learn how Widget Corp’s social media efforts are focused on creating two-way conversations, rather than pushing content. I have always found that listening first leads to stronger relationships and better results, and really appreciated this point.

Please let me know if you would like any additional references and thanks again for your consideration.

Cheers,

Sally

TIP: Oftentimes, a short and to the point email is best after an interview.

Ex. 2

“John,

Thanks for taking the time to interview me. I think Widget Corp has an exciting product and culture, and believe that my experience as social media director for my university would make me a great fit.

Thanks for your consideration and have a great rest of your week.

Regards,

Sally

All-Star TIP: Bring a blank thank-you card and stamped envelope to an in-person interview. After you leave the interview, fill-in the thank-you card and place it in the nearest mailbox to be delivered to your interviewer’s desk the next morning.

2.) After submitting an application and not hearing back!

The second most common time to use a follow-up is if you have submitted an application and you have not heard back. While many students assume this is because they have been rejected, in many cases a lack of response occurs when the hiring manager is overwhelmed and they have simply been lost in the mix. As long as you are polite and considerate you have nothing to lose, in following-up and seeing where you stand in the review process.

Ex.

John,

I know you are really busy so I wanted to quickly hop back on to your inbox. Did you happen receive my application for your marketing management role?

Thanks for your time.

Cheers,

Sally

3.) After a networking lunch or informational interview!

It is common that as you conduct your internship search, you will take time to meet with different professionals in your field; either references from family, professors, or other contacts you have developed. When these busy professionals take time to speak with you about the industry, it warrants a follow-up, with the best follow-ups thanking them for their time and showing them that you paid attention and learned something new from the conversation.

“John,

Thanks for taking the time to speak with me today, it was really interesting to learn more about how you have seen social media change from one-to-many type conversations, to more one-on-one conversations. I agree that building relationships, rather than just spraying content is a much more powerful way to grow users in new online communities.

In fact I just read an article in Seach Engine Land about this that I thought you might enjoy.

Thanks again for your time, would you mind if I had one or two quick follow-up questions if I reached out?

All the best,

Sally

4.) Immediately after sending an application!

A follow-up directly after sending an application can be a way to stand out, but should only be used if the selection process is rolling, not if there is a set deadline.

Ex.

“John,

My name is Sally and I just submitted an application to your Widget Marketing Position. I spent last year marketing wodgets and learned a lot about the process and am excited to bring my past experience, and team-centric focus to your marketing campaigns this summer. If you have any follow-up questions feel free to let me know and thanks for your time and consideration.

Cheers,

Sally

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