How to Get a Great Internship (Hint: It Takes an “X” Factor…and Chopsticks)

Because I love sushi almost as much as I love cupcakes, I couldn’t resist a recent press release about the launch of a new site called Intern Sushi. It turns out this new venture aims to help students and young professionals to find internships in the hardest-to-break-into fields like film, art, professional sports and fashion.

I had the opportunity to speak with co-founder and CEO Shara Senderoff about this new venture, why it’s called Intern Sushi and what it offers. Her answers are below, with my emphasis added. 

LP: What is Intern Sushi and how is it different from other internship sites out there?

SS: Intern Sushi is a new way to find, apply to, track and manage internships in the hardest-to-break-into industries today.

For internship seekers, our multimedia platform provides a digital stage on which to showcase their personalities and help them get noticed by hiring managers. For companies, our easy-to-use, time saving and organizational tools, help them identify, track and cultivate the right talent. And for parents, we give them peace of mind to know what their children are doing and how it affects their futures.

In a nutshell, Intern Sushi connects the brightest and most talented interns with the best companies in the current marketplace. We specialize in offering highly coveted internships in heavily desired industries including film, television, sports, fashion, advertising/PR, music, web, tech, publishing, theatre and art.


LP: Why is it so hard to land an internship in certain industries like film, fashion or professional sports?

SS: Coming from the film industry, I’ve seen how hard it can be for an individual to “break in” without knowing someone on the inside. Additionally, the internships in these highly coveted industries are so sought after that hiring managers are inundated with resumes. It’s impossible to break out from the stack. There’s no way to showcase your passion or tell your story on a piece of paper, and in creative industries they ARE interested in more than just what’s on your resume.

These industries need candidates with strong personalities as well as creative skills –- you have to have the “X factor.” We know that there are plenty of talented and creative folks who don’t get noticed and it’s time for this to change.


LP: There is quite a lot of controversy out there about unpaid internships. Does Intern Sushi take a position on whether the opportunities on the site should be paid or unpaid? What is your advice to a college student who can’t afford to work an unpaid internship?

SS: There are a lot of future benefits to gaining experience at a major company in the field you want to excel in. For example, you’re immediately immersed in the industry and company’s culture. You can’t think of it as working for free; it’s essentially an audition, an investment in your dream career.

Internships, paid or unpaid, aren’t a forever deal. There’s an expiration date. This is your one chance to show a company what you can do for them. And you have to remember, there are always 10 people in line behind you who just want one shot and they’ll take it from you the second you forget that the benefit of an internship is the experience. Good or bad, I guarantee you’ll learn something that will shape who you are and what you will become.


LP: What do employers tell you they are most looking for in internship applicants?

SS: Every company has different specific skills, but overall we encourage interns and companies alike to be discerning and specific with what they want. In order to find the right fit, applicants need to go beyond the resume page and show their “raw” personalities. We have found that the more fresh, disciplined, and innovative the applicant is (all attributes of sushi,) the better one’s chances of landing the position. Employers are looking for authenticity and transparency, which is ultimately the first step in a successful relationship on both sides.


LP:  Any unique tips for how to thrive in an internship once you land one?

SS: To thrive and stand out once you land an internship, always crave responsibility and know that even your best work can always be better. I went through every internship with a “figure it out no matter what” mentality and I’m sure that it’s what put me ahead of the pack.

We have two content sections of the site dedicated to helping our users succeed. One is called “The Guide to Getting Picked” and the other “Industry Insider.” The Guide to Getting Picked is full of no-nonsense advice and tips for how to excel before, during and after your internship. The Industry Insider can be filtered by specific industry to view educational and entertaining videos that explain the key terms, key concepts and key players you need to know within each field. These videos will help interns self-educate and hopefully, give them the best chance at turning the internship into a job.

The truth of the matter is that there is no better way to stand out than having more knowledge than the person next to you. We have set out to arm every intern with the information they need to thrive.


Thank you to Shara for answering my questions. Check out and share your thoughts in the Comments!

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Lindsey is a globally recognized career and workplace expert and the leading voice on generational diversity. She has spoken for more than 300 audiences including Google, Goldman Sachs, Estee Lauder, Stanford and Wharton. Lindsey is the author of four career and workplace advice books, and her insights have appeared in media outlets including The TODAY Show, CNBC, NPR, the Harvard Business Review and the Wall Street Journal.


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