Internships! How to avoid getting lost in the Black Hole

Contribution by Nathan Parcells,

Black holes in space consist of collapsed stars where neither sound nor can light escape. In the job world, the term black hole is used when applicants send countless resumes to employers and hear nothing in response.

Few things are more frustrating than spending hours crafting an internship application, only to submit it, and hear nothing back. Fewer than 5% of employers follow-up with every applicant they receive and even fewer communicate the real reasons about why they made the choice they did. While it might seem easy to blame companies for not doing a better job of responding, the reality is that most HR managers are overworked reviewing hundreds of applications every week – so it is up to you to stand out. By learning a bit more about the online application process, you can figure out how to navigate this abyss and make sure you emerge on the other side with a rock-star internship.

Where do all the resumes go?

As you can probably guess, not all internship applications follow the same path. Some employers ask you to apply directly to their email inbox. Others ask for you to apply using a job website like Taleo or InternMatch so that they can save the applications in a database online and share them with other employees in the office. Depending on the size of the employer and how they are accepting applications you need to think up the best strategy to make sure you don’t get overlooked when it comes to decision time.

5 tips to help you land at your ideal destination!

1.) Follow-Up!

The biggest piece of advice we can recommend to avoid getting ignored is to follow-up consistently with an employer after you submit an application. This is an art not a science. Most students are way too hesitant to follow-up with employers even if just to ask what their time frame is on responding or to remind them that you have applied and are excited to get the internship. For best practices see our guide on how to follow-up with employers.

2.) Remove all typos from your resume

Another reason you may not hear back from employers is because they tossed out your resume. One of the most common reasons your resume might get thrown out is because it has typos and grammatical errors. In fact almost 50% of employers that we work with ( stop reading a resume if they see just one typo! Do double check your resume and check out our resume guide and template for extra help. Also, take advantage of  the SJSU Career Center—they offer resume writing workshops and individual critique sessions.

3.) Be unique

As an employer who has hired many students I can safely say, my job is a lot easier when a particular student breaks the mold. Don’t just spam employers with a standard cover letter, take the extra hour to write something unique. If the employer is on Twitter, then send them a tweet about how excited you are to apply to their company or specific position. If they are coming to your school for a career fair, go and introduce yourself to the recruiting staff. Your hard work will pay off when it comes to decision time.

4.) Don’t use scammy websites to apply for positions!

Top job boards like your Career Center website, Indeed, or InternMatch work hard to make sure every position that is online is up to date and is a high quality position. If you are finding positions by doing a Google search or on Craigslist, you can find some great opportunities but as a rule of thumb the further you go from trusted sites the more likely you are to be applying to a position that has either already closed or doesn’t exist altogether.

5.) Don’t get discouraged.

Last but not least don’t get discouraged. A lot of employers are overwhelmed with applications, so even if you are over qualified for a position you simply might not hear back. If you keep at it and keep improving your application skills you are going to start getting interviews and eventually find a position.

Nathan Parcells is co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer at After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, Nathan joined long-time friend and co-founder, Andrew Maguire in starting InternMatch to build a better way for students to find interesting internships. Nathan has spoken at countless universities including Stanford and the University of Washington and been featured in publications including WSJ and Business Insider on how students can break through a tough job market and find careers they love. Feel free to email him with questions at


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