Job Search Preparation

Internship & Career Search Preparation

Prior to applying for Internships, Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU), or careers, you will be required to prepare certain forms and documents. Regardless of the position, it is strongly advised to have the following prepared and completed prior to your search. Having all items prepared will ensure the most options for applying as opportunities arise. 

  1. Personal Statement
  2. Two letters of recommendation
  3. Copy of your most recent academic transcript(s)
  4. Copy of your most recent CV/Resume

*Pro Tip: Always send your documents as PDFs. Formatting issues may arise if the receiver does not use the same type of operating system or document reader. Using PDF format, ensures that your documents will be viewed exactly as you intend, regardless of the computer or software used.

1. Personal Statement

Your personal statement is exactly that. It is your chance to communicate with hiring managers and recruiters about your skills, interests and what makes you unique. It is an opportunity to convey aspects of yourself that can not be summarized in a CV/resume. Below you will find a series of questions. They are designed to help you identify your strengths in bite size pieces and then assemble them together for a complete and effective personal statement.

How did you get here?

  • How did you come to study your major?
  • What about your major inspires/motivates you?
  • How can what you study, change the world for the better, and why is that important to you?
  • What details of your life, such as personal or family struggles, culture, or seminal events, have shaped you or influenced your goals?

Where are you going?

  • How are you going to use your major in a future career?
  • How do you see your current studies (and/or the position you are applying for) as being useful in your future career?
  • What kinds of experience (research, internships, jobs) do you already posses that are relevant to your future goals?
    • If you don't have any experience in your field of study, that's not a problem. Instead highlight the experience you do have and explain how the skills you learned there can translate to this position.
  • What personal traits and characteristics do you posses and why are they important to you?
    • E.g. integrity, perseverance, contributing to a community/team.

Putting it all together

Choose at least three questions from each section above and answer them in detail. The key to an effective personal statement is to be specific. Avoid general statements about your major, interests, experiences, etc. Try to craft your answers in such a way, that the reader feels like you are speaking to them as if you were in person. Tell them your story.

Your should format your text single spaced, and in an easy to read 12 point font (e.g. Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri). Once you have answered these questions, weave them together into a single document and, presto! You now have a completed and effective personal statement.

2. Letters of Recommendation

It is very common for some internships and REUs to requires letters of recommendation as part of the application process. You should have at least two letters on hand and ready to go before you begin your search. Obtaining these letters is the most passive part of job search preparation, as you are not the one who will be writing them. Do not wait until the last minute to request recommendations, as the persons you ask may have limited free time to write them, so ask early!

Who do I ask?

You should request letters of recommendation from those who are best suited to speak to your skills and character, ideally you should ask your professors and if you have industry experience, ask your supervisor. 

Approach the person you would like to write a letter for you and ask them if they are available and willing to do so. Let them know why you are asking them and what you need the letter for. If they are willing, let them know that you will follow up with an email with all the details. This is an important step to remember because your professors and supervisors are very busy people and an email will serve as a gentle reminder to them. It also demonstrates a high level of professionalism on your part, as you are presenting them with all the information they will need to write your letter. 

This is stated above but it bears repeating: Ask early! Do not procrastinate this step, you may end up without your letters by the deadline.

3. Academic Transcript(s)

  • Log in to Gateway - SF State University ( and navigate to the "Student Center". 
  • Under the "Academics" section, select "My Academics" then select "View my unofficial transcript"
  • On the next page select "SF State Unofficial Transcript" and hit "View report"
  • Then in your browser, save to your computer or cloud service.

4. Your CV or Resume

Check out the videos below for detailed explanations and helpful tips for crafting your CV or Resume. 


Check out these videos to help you out with job and internship applications!

More Job Search Resources