How (& why ) to follow up on an Internship application

Are you often left wondering that despite doing everything right (starting from extensive research on the company to writing a concise and relevant CV and cover letter), why does your internship application still not elicit a response from the employer? Could it be because you are not doing the next right thing – follow up!

Of the 140 internship applications that Internshala received last month for a web development internship, only 3 students followed up with me on the status of their applications. I was left wondering if the rest of the candidates were not serious enough about this internship or they just did not know the advantages of a well executed follow up.

With year entering into March, I am sure many of the students must have intensified their internship hunt and may be busy writing to new companies/professors every day. But in this mad rush of applications, do not let go of your previous applications – atleast not that easily. You anyway have done 80-90% of the hardwork, why leave last 10% to chance?

Why to follow up

1. Let’s accept that recruiters are human beings – they, just like any of us, may be busy with other tasks, may not have checked their emails, may have missed it first time, may not be well, may be travelling or something else – the point is other than “your CV not matching with the requirements”, there could be N reasons why you have not heard back from the employer and hence don’t just assume and write back.

2. A follow up indicates a serious interest in the internship and makes you stand out from 100s of other similar profile candidates who have NOT followed up. It gives the recruiter comfort that your first email was not part of a “mass emailing” attempt. We all have done mass emailing at some point or other – how many times did we follow up? There lies your answer.

3. It is an opportunity for you to start another conversation with the employer, may be you found some more info about the project since your first email, may be you upgraded your skills, or received a relevant award or certificate that you would like recruiters to know – a follow up is an excellent chance to build on the conversation.

How to follow up

Now that you know there are pretty good reasons for follow up, comes the tricky part – how to follow up? Here are my thoughts –

1. Allow 2-3 days working days gap between 2 successive communications – too often than that may irritate the recruiter and too much gap may mean that the employer has forgotten all about your first email. Balance the two.

2. Do not write a fresh email for follow up. Use the first email as the trail and top it up with a brief of request again (see example below) – make it easier for the recruiter to establish reference to an earlier email.

How to write a follow up email

3. Please, please and please – do not use SMS language or make grammatical/spelling mistakes in a professional communication. It is still looked down upon.

4. If couple of follow up emails also go unanswered then you may consider reaching out through other channels such as phone, facebook, linkedin etc. (do refer to earlier emails) – if that also does not yield a response, I think it’s best to let the internship go.

Admittedly, follow ups is no guarantee of you getting the internship. It only ensures that you tried your best and left nothing to chance. There would still be people who would not respond and the best way to deal with that is to accept it as part of the process and move on to better opportunities.

Hope this helps.  Have something to say, ask, critique or know of an internship opportunity that you would like others to know – post it right away! If you like what you read here, do share with another friend.

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