Making the Cut: Separating Yourself From The Pack And Common Applicaiton Blunders
In this three part series, PFATS.com interviews five NFL assistant athletic trainers to talk about NFL Internships. Over the next three weeks our panel will discuss the how an NFL internship can enhance students professionally, the application process, and keys to being a successful as an intern in the NFL.
Our panel consists of:
Tyler Williams – Assistant Athletic Trainer, St. Louis Rams
Shone Gipson – Assistant Athletic Trainer, Buffalo Bills
David Glover – Assistant Athletic Trainer, Kansas City Chiefs
Leigh Weiss – Assistant Athletic Trainer/Physical Therapist, New York Giants
Nate Weir – Assistant Athletic Trainer, Green Bay Packers
Part II- KEYS TO APPLYING FOR AN NFL INTERNSHIP:
PFATS.com: What do you look for in an internship applicant? (Personally and Professionally)
TW: Our club usually concentrates on applicants that are in their junior or senior year of college. We strive to hire interns that are energetic, motivated, and have quality references.
SG: I look for three things:
Attention to Detail: I want someone who can handle lots of work and not have to worry about it being done the right way. You can teach interns many of the everyday training room responsibilities and help them learn their way around the athletic training room, but you don’t want to be constantly repeating directions and following up behind them worrying about if they are doing all the little things.
Experience: I evaluate the different sports responsibilities and experiences that they’ve had at their schools, not just football. I also evaluate their knowledge from the classroom.
Willingness to learn and being a good fit: I want to know if the student seems excited about the position and being a part of our team. I am very honest about what their duties will be, and if they seem disinterested knowing that they may have to perform some menial tasks, I know it may not be a good fit. Along with this I want someone who has an energetic personality and who gets along with everyone, both players and staff.
DG: Each applicant is different but one thing I look at is there work experiences. Football is a demanding sport and a tough schedule. Knowing that a student is no stranger to working long hours and hard work always sticks out with me.
LW: As with all teams, our applicants should be hard working, act professionally at all times, and demonstrate initiative around the athletic training room. When they come in we tell them that they are representing the New York Football Giants, their University, and themselves, and expect them to carry themselves in that manner. We look for those students who have football experience, but also experience across the spectrum of athletic training.
NW: We look for applicants with good people skills, who work hard, are consummate professional, and are great communicators. Students who take great pride in their work and are extremely detail oriented always do a very good job for us. Professionally, a student with prior football experience (high school, at their school, prior NFL experience, etc.) is always helpful, but experience in general is important. Professionalism is also an important characteristic. I tell students all the time you are constantly representing yourself, your athletic training program, your references and the Green Bay Packers. Don’t be the student to ruin future opportunities not only for yourself, but for other students from your school.
PFATS.com: What do you look for in a cover letter and resume?
TW: We look for resumes that are concise and professional. Resumes should be easy to follow and understand. One major flaw in a cover letter occurs when they are addressed to the wrong team, which suggests the lack of attention to detail.
SG: I look for individuals who will give me concise, bulleted and focused information on their objective. I want an overview of their related skills and experiences in athletic training. Rather than listing job duties all the time, be willing to describe your experience in terms of skills that relate to your objective of becoming an athletic training intern.
DG: A lot of what I look at is there college and professional experience. As well as who their references are. The people who know the students best are always the best people to talk to when trying to find out about what type of person the student is.
LW: Attention to detail is paramount. Every now and again we come across a cover letter, “I am looking for an opportunity to intern with you and the rest of the PACKERS medical staff,” when it should say Giants! We receive resumes and cover letters each year that are addressed to an individual from another team, or addressed to a stadium that does not exist anymore. Remember this is a job application and reflects you both personally and professionally, so do your research and proofread.
NW: I look for applications that are done well. Don’t try to WOW me with your format or font or type of paper. The overall layout of your resume and cover letter are important and should be easy to follow and read. I am able to tell students who have put the time and effort into their cover letter and resume. Remember this is your first impression to the team you are applying to, attention to detail is VITAL.
PFATS.com: How can internship applicants set themselves apart from other applicants?
TW: The cover letter is their opportunity to sell the quality of their work ethic and desire for the position.
SG: Applying early in the process and through your cover letter. Try and present a compelling vision of what you would like to get out of the internship. Also, after sending a cover letter and resume, don’t be afraid to follow-up with an e-mail. To me it shows initiative and persistence.
DG: I think having worked with some of the other NFL teams as a summer intern always catches my eye. Because then you have an opportunity to talk with another athletic training staff in the NFL to see how that student worked in similar environment. The opinions of some of my peers from other teams is a huge plus for me.
LW: Not only in the internship process, but in all areas of the athletic training profession it is imperative to set yourself apart from the crowd. I think one way of accomplishing this is to get as much experience in many different areas of the profession. Volunteer and take part in community initiatives. We like interns with a myriad of different experiences. Additionally, the application process for majority of teams is rolling. Those that apply early are definitely at an advantage.
NW: What makes you stand out compared to the other applicants? Highlight your college and professional experiences. If you have worked a prior internship with the “Chicago Bears” be sure to include that in your cover letter and resume. If you have worked with the Chicago Bears and do not have one of their staff members as a reference, that is a red flag to me. I also look for what you have done above and beyond what is asked of you in your athletic training program. Volunteer work and helping out in the community are always nice additions to an intern’s application.
PFATS.com: What are the most common mistakes you see in internship applications?
TW: Many times they can be addressed to the wrong team, which suggest the lack of attention to detail.
SG: The mistake I see the most are students utilizing form letters and posting incorrect team information on cover letters and resumes. For me, this is a HUGE no-no. I immediately discard the resume and move on to other potential candidates.
DG: I think the most common mistake is not changing the name of who the cover letter is addressed to. Students send out so many letters they sometimes forget to change the name of who the letter is supposed to go to.
LW: Spelling errors, grammatical errors, formatting issues, failing to change team names and staff member names.
NW: Not signing their application or addressing the cover letter to the wrong team.