You rarely hear someone exclaim, “I found the listing on a job board, sent in my resume and got the offer!” when vying for a competitive position or prestigious internship. It’s challenging to land a sought-after internship gig. The pool of ambitious collegiate hopefuls is vast, often with the numbers of candidates greatly outweighing the number of available positions.

So what’s an intern seeker to do?
First, start by tossing aside conventional job search methods. It’s time to be revolutionary.

Sell yourself online

Online ads can be created for any reason: selling furniture, hiring freelancers, or marketing a social, or business, networking event. But, placing an ad for a person?

LinkedIn, Facebook, Craigslist, and even ebay offer targeted self-service ads that you can tap to get your face in front of the right people. (Decision-makers at your target companies, anyone?) LinkedIn Ads, for example, allow you to set your own budget, pay by clicks or impressions, and target with precision—by job title and function, industry and company size, or seniority.

Your ad should include a headshot, appropriate title for your target, and a tagline that briefly captures your professional abilities. You can then link your ad to your professional profile on LinkedIn or an online portfolio.

If you’re feeling even more ambitious, take a nod from Alec Brownstein, a now-infamous job seeker who had had enough of the rejection game and took matters into his own hands.
Brownstein identified his target companies, researched the executives in a position to make hiring decisions, and appealed to their egos using Google ads. “When [the executives] Googled their [own] names,” explains Business Insider, “his job request showed up at the top of the page.”

His ad named the manager specifically, with the tagline “Googling yourself is a lot of fun. Hiring me is fun, too.” Brownstein received several interviews and subsequent employment. Of course, a more subtle approach works too. While not as targeted as one which names names, an ad for a hospitality management major who gives a shout-out to the “Disney College Program” can still be guerrilla enough to get noticed.

Sell yourself offline
Don’t neglect offline strategies in your search, because they can work wonders.

Vista Print offers a super low-cost business card that is entirely customizable. A simple card with your name, field of interest, email and web addresses, and a title such as “Intern Candidate with a Passion for Sustainability” is a great way to handle both formal and spontaneous networking situations. Of course, it’s always a good idea to connect with that person on LinkedIn as well, so you can discover mutual friends, see their career updates, and reach out via InMail.

For the more courageous job seekers, a sign on your car (most sign companies can do this for less than $100) or front yard could prove fruitful. Liz Hickok of Georgia did just that. Seizing the holiday spirit and its sparkly decor, this HR job seeker put her name in lights – literally.

She bedazzled her home with Christmas lights boasting the message: “My wish, HR job, Liz Hickok, LinkedIn.” reports that the stunt worked: “It resulted in a number of job recommendations from local passerby and LinkedIn users alike.” Putting yourself out there, in the literal sense, can help you prove that you are unique and creative.

Use their products to show your speciality

If your target company produces a well-known product, use it to capture their attention!

If you’re after a supply chain internship with a candy company, you could print your resume as a label to place on one of the products.

If you’re looking for a marketing internship with a cereal company, construct a cereal box with your own brand name and work history as the nutrition information. Same goes for light bulbs, key cards, pharmaceuticals—any tangible product could work. The product doubles as both memorable introductions and literal demonstrations of innovation.

Create a video resume

A video resume is fresh way to present yourself while showing that you’re not afraid to take risks. First, do your research. Have a look at the videos that capture your attention, and consider your reaction to long videos (yawn!) or ones in which the speaker is drab, unprepared or dispassionate. Carve out a few hours to create your own 2-3 minute video.

You could do a takeoff of a classic movie (i.e. “Ferris Bueller’s Day On”), a TV show, or other pop culture narrative to relate your experience in an engaging way. Think music videos, opening credits, and well-known scenes—anything will capture the viewer’s attention and motivate them to share with others.

For the less risk-averse, keep your video resume conservative and gimmick-free. A well-edited video from a confident and professionally dressed intern seeker can still impress.

Bring props and mockups

You’ve landed the interview! Now what? You still need to make a lasting impression, and sometimes, a prop can help.

During her job search for a full time teaching job, Katy Couch, a teacher from Clio, Michigan, was called in as a first time substitute for a music teacher at a school in her county. With guitar in hand, she arrived ready to wow the students, but ended up impressing the faculty as well. The administration took notice of her excitement to do the temporary job, “Turned out I impressed the right people and landed the job of my dreams!”

Originally published in the LinkedIn Job Seeker Premium Group here.

Author's Bio: 

With job search management expertise as an award-winning career innovator and résumé writer, master networker, and Fortune 500 corporate insider with flagship firms such as The Walt Disney Company and America Online, Laura M. Labovich is often affectionately referred to in the media as “a job seeker’s best friend.”

Chief Executive Officer of The Career Strategy Group (, a boutique career management and outplacement firm headquartered in Bethesda, MD, Laura’s contagious enthusiasm and powerful methodology make the perfect recipe for getting job seekers unstuck in their job search. Equal parts kick-butt trainer and nurturing cheerleader, Laura empowers job seekers to develop proactive, targeted job search marketing plans that increase momentum and achieve breakthrough results.