How To Manage Your Documents When Applying For An Internship

We students or undergraduates who are actively seeking opportunities apply for multiple opportunities every day or at least every week. For some months after applying in hurry and haphazard manners, it resulted in a situation that I was not able to find precisely that to which companies I applied, to which companies I have to follow up, what was their job description, which resume I submitted, what did I modify, what did I write in that cover letter, which documents I included. This resulted in a lot of confusion, unmanaged and redundancy, and pain in mind. Now, no more confusion. Little or more, but for sure, this method will simplify your applying method and save time. (just wrote this spontaneously in half an hour, sorry for grammatical mistakes!)

  1. Creating main folder: Suppose, you come to know about an internship opportunity and going to apply for it. The very first step is to create a new folder on your desktop by the name ‘internships’. (you can initially make this folder on the PC or online using data storage services such Google Drive, OneDrive, iCloud, DropBox.)
  2. Creating sub-folder: Inside the main internships folder, create a sub-folder with the name of the internship company you are applying for with it’s location. Example: ABC, Berlin. Including or appending the date might be a good idea.
  3. Saving internship advertisement: Inside that folder, save the screenshot or PDF of the job description of the internship opportunity advertisement. This will help you in accessing the description and crafting the resume/cover letter according to it. Sometimes, the advertisement is removed by the employers after a period of time or it’s internet link expires. So, it’s good to have a local saved copy on your PC or anywhere online. It also helps during the interview, you can just keep a printout of it, keep it with you to have a better understanding of the opportunity.
  4. Common cover letter: Now you are to create the most important files that are a cover letter and a CV/resume. I hope you do have a common cover letter already created. If not, you can always do so where you don’t include the specifics like company name, position etc. You can keep your personal details at the top constant because they will remain same in all your cover letters. So, this file will be more like a template. It’s better to store this template cover letter in the main folder internships folder.
  5. Common CV: I also hope, you do have a common or a general CV which you use as the base for specific CV or resume or which is not crafted according to the internship description. Copy and paste that general CV into the internship folder (ABC, Berlin). Then open that CV/resume in the editing program say Microsoft Word. you would to use and edit accordingly.
  6. Using your monitor screen efficiently: While editing the CV or the cover letter according to your needs, you can use the side by side windows functionality. In other words, keep the internship description ad on the right side taking half of the screen. In the other left half, use that for the CV or cover letter editing. Now, you will be able to grasp faster from right to left. Benefit is that you don’t need to minimize the windows all the time which is time and brain consuming. If you have dual monitors, you can use one for editing and one for viewing the descriptions.
  7. Three files: Now, in the company internship folder (ABC, Berlin), we have three files. first is the advertisement of the internship, second is your cover letter and third is your resume/CV.
  8. Other files: Other files such as recommendation letters/testimonials, educational certificates, marksheets, professional photo might be important to attach as well specially if you are applying in Europe. In Europe, recruiters expect full applications (with all the documents and certificates) most of the times at initial stage, whereas in the US, recruiters expect just the cover letter and CV at initial stage.
  9. Scan all documents, all means all: I hope, you are ready with the all the documents scanned discussed above. If not, you can scan all your documents from high school, senior high school, diplomas, bachelor/masters/PhD, internships, jobs, testimonials, extra-curricular/participation certificates and so on and save them on PC. No! Don’t save your precious documents locally on PC. Use a cloud service instead. The advantage is it will lead to duplicate copies over time, you will lose the access to the latest documents and you will be able to access them anywhere like from the office, airport, coffee shop etc. I use OneDrive because I am a Windows user and it comes installed with it. You can always use others of your choice such as Dropbox or Google Drive. While storing these documents online, make sure you manage them in categories as well such as one folder for education, one for internships, one for jobs, one for volunteer if any, you can combine some folders if you haven’t done any of them. You should also create a folder for your professional photos and one for signatures too (no one asks for your hand signatures, but it’s good to upload them because you can always use them to sign your CV/cover letter when in need.)
  10. How to manage your all the scanned documents? The files created by the scanner are single image files JPG, PNG mostly. The best way is to scan all the documents first. Then chronologically, you should make the combinations of the document files. It means that in one PDF file (for your any degree, don’t worry I will tell you how to create the PDF file), it’s good to have the passing certificate at the top, then the marksheets, then the recommendation letter (if any, if not, ask for it by requesting your professors as it’s good to have) and then the co-curricular certificates you were awarded.  Simply copy the image files and paste them into Microsoft Words one by one. Go to the menu and export them as PDF. (Too much high quality will increase the file size and online application system they have limits for that.) So, finally you will have a PDF file which will be able to show your passing certificate + marksheets + recommendation letter by professor+ co-curricular certificates. You can apply this same criteria for high school, senior school, diplomas, other degrees. If you have done an internship before, you can create one PDF file for each internship where at the top, you can place the experience letter and then the recommendation letter. If you have several internships experience, you can combine these into one PDF file too to simplify the document structure. You can also combine the high school and senior high school documents in just one PDF file. (Most of the online application systems have limits to attach files say 4 or 6, so sometimes, you have to tweak the document settings according to it. So never delete the image files of the scanned documents, and always keep the Word file of each document even though you have exported them to PDF.)
  11. Just CV+cover letter or other documents? So, now depending upon the location where you are applying, you might need to send just the cover letter and CV/resume or other certificate. If these two documents are just the case, you are ready to go to the apply link and apply. Now you will find it is easy to go through the process because now you have everything ready at once place.
  12. Manage all documents for the application inside the internship folder:  If you need to attach other documents such as all certificates along with CV and cover letter. Copy the required documents to the internship folder (ABC, Berlin) and number them. You can numbers to the files like, give 1. for the cover letter 2. for the CV/resume, 3. for the internship 4. volunteer 5. education degree-bachelor 6. education degree- master’s 7. high and senior high school. If the number of documents are high, combine some. Attach the files and you are done. The presentation/ structure of the documents will also give an insight on how managed you are. Some companies in Europe also require a cover note, so you can include that in the cover letter letter or as a separate file. If stated to include separately, please do the same.
  13. Finally…… Now, final of final, in the internship folder you do have job advertisement, and all the application documents (resume/CV, cover letter, internship document, education document—————– and the list goes on). Now in future, you can just look at it and know what you did with the opportunity. (Tip: if you see these internships folders are taking much space on your PC or online, you can always delete the documents except the ad, resume/cv  and the cover letter. This is because you already have a copy of it separately. Still then, make a notepad file there, mentioning that you have deleted those and those files from the folder). From now onwards, you can apply to as many companies as you want without hesitation and being managed. Done!
  14. Limitations of this method: for managing the files, the method works fine. But if you would like to find the name of the companies you have applied to and want to follow up later on, then this might not be the best method. Prior to this file management technique, you can create a Microsoft Excel file in which you have the serial number, then the name of the company, and in the other column say ‘received reply or not’. I am trying to play with this method, so see how to work with this. Now when in future, I would be needing to see the name of the company I applied for, I will open this Excel file, search using the control + f key. This is a cheap, more reliable  process as compared to searching amongst directories. You can create the Excel file with your own choice of data.

If you find this helpful, please let me know, this will create a confidence in me to write more. I would love to take your advice if you have, around this topic. Please feel free to comment!

An article by an internship seeker Anvar Jamal who likes to share his stories with the other students. Anvar likes travelling to remote places, listening to loud electro music, writing articles to help people, exchanging views with internationals, doing nature photography, driving fast motorbikes. Reach me at anvar.jam@gmail.com or @anvarjam