Here at Center Theatre Group, we love giving people internships. However, three times a year, I have to tell most applicants they haven’t been selected for the program. The truth is, the majority of applications don’t receive serious consideration because of small, easily fixable errors. If you’re thinking about applying, please read the tips below.
1. Make sure you’re eligible, and follow all directions carefully. Each semester we receive applications from graduate students applying for undergraduate internships, and vice versa, or from people who have been out of school for longer than the maximum amount of time. These won’t be considered. Many people also miss specific instructions regarding file format for cover letters and resumes (PDF!), or how to avoid submitting our Internship Application as a blank form. The directions are in the individual PDF internship descriptions and on the main internship webpage. Your application is an indication of your ability to read and follow instructions, and of your work style—make a great impression!
2. Customize your cover letter. Form cover letters—even for non-arts-related departments such as Finance and HR—never receive consideration. Your cover letter should tell us why you’re excited about a specific internship, how that internship will help you achieve your career goals, and why you are interested in interning at Center Theatre Group.
3. If an internship sounds particularly appealing to you, it probably sounds that way to a LOT of people. Some internships, such as Casting, Theatre Management, and Content Marketing, receive many applications. Successful applicants demonstrate through their cover letter and resume that they already have interest in those areas: they’ve job-shadowed at a casting agency, cast shows at their college, etc. They also tell us why this particular internship is necessary for them at this point in their career growth. People who are applying solely because something sounds fun are unlikely to get to the interview phase.
4. The most competitive internships tend to be in areas that are the most familiar to college students. Internships in Development, Audience Engagement, areas of Marketing like Account Sales and Ticket Operations, and Community Partnerships aren’t things you’re introduced to at an undergraduate level, so they get comparatively few applicants. If you don’t know what something is, research it! You may be surprised by a perfect fit. For example, Development (fundraising) can be a great opportunity for students who have studied English or communications and are interested in either working at a non-profit or starting their own organization. These internships are just as creative and rewarding—and you have a better chance of being selected, even if you have no prior experience.
5. Tell us why you’re the unicorn. Why are you—yes, you, reading this article—the person who will benefit most from this opportunity? How does your work history, background, passion, and focus at school make you the ideal fit for this internship? Use your cover letter and resume to draw connections between what you’ve already done, what this internship can teach you, and what you want to achieve as a working professional.
6. Be honest. In the CTG Internship Application, you’ll need to initial a series of statements to confirm your availability and commitment. If you sign off on those, get called in to an interview, and try to negotiate them or tell us they’re no longer true, you’ll be removed from consideration—and you will have prevented someone else from getting the opportunity to interview. Similarly, if your cover letter tells us how much you love casting but your entire resume is focused on corporate finance, it looks like you’re trying to hide something. If you’re switching careers or trying something new, address it directly and tell us why your feel you need the internship at this point in time.
If you have questions about a specific internship or something not addressed in this article, please feel free to contact me at Internships@CenterTheatreGroup.org. Thanks for your interest in our program, and I hope to receive your application soon!