While this blog post is being written from a bit of frustration I’ve experienced lately, it’s truly not meant to be a rant. Instead, I hope it serves as simple and constructive criticism for the kids of the class of 2014 (and beyond) looking to nail down that summer internship.

As anyone who follows our company knows, we’re looking to hire a trio of summer interns. We’ve nailed down a solid strategy guy for the summer, but the designer and writer search is still very much in full swing. We’ve been fortunate to have many apply (at last count, 83 total applicants) and are seeing some really talented kids come down the pike.

But while talent is great, common sense and professional etiquette have been severely lacking by many. This blog post is my opinion on a few areas of improvement for students looking for a job or internship.

To be frank, I’m really disappointed, and really surprised, to even have to write something like this in the first place. But I feel it must be done. So here we go…

1. Do your research

With more information about a company at your fingertips than ever before in the history of the world (literally – this is a very true and accurate statement), “not knowing much about a company” isn’t okay.

As many of you know, Gorilla 76 is an industrial marketing company focusing on lead generation and lead nurturing for our clients. In order to do this successfully, we use a range of techniques. One of which is using software that allows us to track the activities that an actual user takes on a given site, including our own.

So coming to an interview, after reviewing only three pages about our company like the below person did (all of which are pages required to apply in the first place), is not okay.

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Do your homework. There are no shortcuts. I expect you to come in and tell me something I didn’t even know about my company that you found buried in the annals of our blog, site, Twitter feed, LinkedIn page, etc.

I want you to want to work here, and I need to know that you want to work here.

2. Come to the interview prepared

I despise resumes as much as the people who have to write them. I don’t enjoy reading them, and I certainly didn’t enjoy writing them. But I do read them and I did write them and I carried one everywhere I went as an unemployed student trying to land a job. You should do the same.

If I had a nickel (channeling my best get-off-my-friggin’-lawn voice) for every time one of our interviewees this year came to a meeting without his or her resume, I’d probably have at least two bucks. It’s ridiculous. Why wouldn’t you bring a resume to an interview? Just because you uploaded it with your job application doesn’t mean I’ve printed it out and am saving it for your meeting. In fact, I’ve done the opposite. I’ve taken a 30-second look to make sure you’re qualified in the first place, jumped to your portfolio to see if you might be a good fit, and then made the invite if things seem to make sense.

And going back to the portfolio for a second, that’s something you’ll want to bring along as well. In fact, this is more important than the resume. Believe it or not, I’ve had many students come to their interview without their portfolio, in hopes that we could “just throw their work up on-screen.”

This is presenting 101. What happens when the “screen” is down? Or our internet connection shoots craps at the office? Then what?

An interview is your 30-minute chance to sell someone on you. Bring all your ammo.

3. Show up on time

On Saturday I had someone who just “wanted to let me know” that they should be here about 9:30…for a 9am meeting. Yesterday, I had someone show up at 12:30 for a 1pm meeting. Neither is okay.

Late is the worst and 30 minutes early is a close second. While I appreciate (and do very much believe in) the effort to arrive early, don’t knock on the office door until five minutes before your interview. It will make it less awkward for everyone involved.

4. Dress to the audience

This is simple. Don’t assume we wear jeans. Don’t assume we wear three-piece suits. Just ask. We’re more than happy to tell you.

The past few weeks, I’ve seen a range of attire. Some of which was well-suited (no pun intended) for our office environment. But, I’ve also had a few come through the door that look like they’re going to the Oscars.

Dressing to your audience is very much a part of the business world. We need to know that you understand that.

5. Write a thank you note

Out of all the writers I have interviewed thus far this year, I’ve only seen a handful of handwritten thank you notes come through the door. And they’ve all been from designers. One of which is below. It’s made out of wood and was very cool.

40+ copy applicants. 0 thank you notes. That’s incredibly disappointing.

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6. Spelling errors are not okay…especially if you’re a writer

I don’t think this needs a lot of explanation, but if I’m hiring you to write…I knead two no that you can right (and properly edit this sentence). Typos in your book and on your resume are not okay.

Simmering down now…

If I sounded like a pompous business owner in this post, I’m sorry. That certainly wasn’t my goal. But I do believe these points are all very important. A student’s internship should be an educational experience. The interview is a great place to start the learning.

To learn more about what it’s like to work at Gorilla, click here.

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