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  • An Open Letter to the Island Intern Contestants

    Contestants –

    I’ve only had a chance to watch about half of the entries so far, but I’ve been amazed by the quality of many of videos, and the ambition and skill displayed by most of the contestants. I’m sorry that we’ll have only one contest winner, because I’ve already seen a dozen or so contestants that seem like they could do great things on the island.

    We can’t reward all of you with an island internship, but since the vast majority of you are in the market for a job or in school and soon to be in the market for a job, I’d like to at least give you a piece of advice that might help you land your dream job in the future, whatever it may be.

    Writing a Letter

    Photo by Brady Withers

    I look at well over a thousand resumes and cover letters a year for the various positions we hire for, and most of them suck. If I had to guess, I’d say we at Amble probably only reach the first stage of interview (a quick 20-minute phone call) with less than 2% of the people who apply for jobs with us. That’s pretty bad odds, and I’d bet that most companies have similar ratios of applicants to interviews.

    As a general rule, no one makes this first cut who doesn’t at least provide a cover letter that shows they know what we do and states why they would be a good fit for us. (As I see it, if someone can’t muster the 15 minutes it takes to learn a little about us and figure out what they can contribute to our cause, then they can’t possibly cut it once they start work.)

    But if someone were to make a video like many of those I’ve seen, and provide a link to it in the first sentence of their cover letter with a statement along the lines of “I made this video just for you,” I assure you they would warrant a first interview. If there’s a job you want, you need to stand out, and videos like you guys have made will do just that; moreover, these videos reveal the kind of ambition and dedication that we (and employers at any other place worth working) look for in potential employees.

    So, if there’s a job any of you really want, I would strongly suggest doing the above. I’m sure these videos took a ton of time and that this suggestion seems like a lot of work, but anything you can do to stand out and prove yourself in your introduction is incredibly important. Plus, I suspect you could use the majority of your video for multiple applications, by designing most of it to be applicable to any job and then just tailoring the first 20 or 30 seconds to each position for which you are applying (this is the same strategy you should use for your cover letters, BTW).

    Anyway, I hope some of you will take this advice to heart: it’s a stiff job market out there (and it’s always a stiff market for a good job), and I see so many worthless resumes that it was a breath of fresh air to watch these videos: they reveal your strengths, passions, and personalities in a way that a standard cover letter/resume combo never could.

    Thanks for sharing your work,

    Ben

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    Post by Benjamin Loomis

    Ben is the Founder and President of Amble Resorts. Meet Ben >>

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    12 Responses

    1. Benjamin Loomis Ben says:

      Thanks, I never thought of myself as a mentor, but wanted to applaud last year’s applicants, and this year’s video submissions are just as impressive. You’re invited to visit Isla Palenque anytime!

    2. Hi Ben!
      T’is Lisa here, and your advice is great for any applicant who finds his/her way to this post. You are a great mentor to those beginning their careers or who somehow missed those important lessons about professionalism.
      I am sure that our paths will cross one day, and I look forward to a few brainstorming sessions in person!
      Siempre,
      Lisa/Z

    3. […] an open letter to the contestants on the Isla Palenque blog, Loomis expressed how impressed he was with the contest turnout. “I’ve been amazed by […]

    4. Benjamin Loomis Ben says:

      What I look for interviews depends of course on the position and applicant, but in general the kinds of things that impress me include having done some homework on our company beforehand, how thoughtful their answers to my questions are, and their ability to ask intelligent questions of me. And regardless of the position or candidate, I ask a lot of questions to gauge interviewees’ character and ambitions, to ensure that they will be a good fit with the company: especially with younger candidates, character and personality are a lot more important than skill sets. We look for people that are intellectually curious, have shown dedication to their craft, and are capable of working without much of direction and on open-ended tasks.

      If you have more specific questions, feel free to email me at bal@amble.com.

    5. Ben,

      Thank you for taking the time to write to the island intern applicants. I know that this video, and personal social media campaign, has been a lot of work for many…but a very exciting and worthwhile learning experience for all.

      I understand that cover letters (and video introductions) are very important to show the company, specifically Isla Palenque in this instance, what you as an applicant know about the company and how you are qualified for the position. I came across this internship opportunity while doing research for a blog I am writing on sustainability. The focus is to persuade the chancellor at Chapman University to establish a paperless policy among professors in an effort to promote sustainable awareness. Looking from a parallel lens, the sustainable development efforts of Isla Palenque are a great example to developers a global scale. The resort at Isla Palenque can be a stepping stone for change as other companies looking to expand can mimic these efforts.

      As far as advice goes, I was wondering if you look for anything specific in an interview? I have been giving a lot of thought to the island intern position, and have many ideas and questions that I would love to discuss regarding the tone of the blog vs. tone of the company, etc.

      I’m sure I can say, on behalf of all the applicants, that we appreciate your recognition and willingness to aid in our future careers.

      Thank you for your time,
      Stephanie Roy

      @stephROYYY for #islandintern

    6. Hi Ben,

      Thanks for your letter. I have conducted many job searches and I have to say, it has gotten more and more difficult to get the attention (in a positive way!) of the right people. I can see how a video cover letter would definitely do that. I would also suggest that it is imperative to follow a path you are passionate about.

      I also want to thank you for the opportunity to apply to this internship. In addition to fueling my growing interest in pursuing a career in Sustainable Tourism, it has motivated me to step up my efforts in social media. I have now created a Twitter account https://twitter.com/#!/jbennett303 especially for ST networking and I am shaping my next school project around creating a career path in ST. My preliminary research indicates that there is currently very little information on this topic so my project will probably involve a lot of networking to seek out primary sources such as yourself. I’ve been active on Facebook for a while, but I’m considering creating another profile to promote my project and exchange information with others who share my specialized interest.

      I’m excited about Amble Resort’s sustainable development on Isla Palenque and will continue to follow your progress with interest. Many of my current Facebook friends are business owners in the Riviera Maya and I know they share my interest in this type of development. The Island Intern contest has done a lot to create awareness. I look forward to speaking with you more about this soon.

      Best,
      Jennifer Bennett

    7. Mary Jackson says:

      Though stressful at times, making the video is the fun part where we get to put passion into action!
      Excellent advice, Ben! Thanks.

    8. Megan Lee says:

      Thank you for this advice, Ben! I could not have anticipated how excited this project has made me for my future, not only because it made my dream career seem achievable, but also because it simply by showed me a community of young optimists like myself who likewise promote travel as a means of further connecting the world. Echoing Danielle, it has been incredible, even as a contestant, to see the quality and ambition of the other applicants. It even makes me excited for Amble Resorts and the future of Isla Palenque!

    9. Frank says:

      Ben –

      Good advice. I am not applying, but I am rooting for someone who is.

      I am currently hiring for 3 positions at my company. After reviewing 100-200 resumes, I am shocked at how horrible peoples resumes are! After knowing how much effort I put into my own resume, it is just shocking.

      Examples: No phone number, cover letter addressed to the wrong company, objectives (even though most best practices suggest against objectives nowadays) that talk about a different position than the one we are offering, lists of responsibilities instead of accomplishments, typos galore, emails with just a resume attached and no cover letter OR text in the body of the email, and more…

      I could go on for days. Take Ben’s advice!

    10. Very inspiring post! This has been my first video submission for any internship/job I have applied for. It is definitely a way to stand out and a fun process than filling out pages of application forms! Ben thank you very much for the amazing advice that will help all of us achieve those amazing future careers! 🙂

    11. But if only you could accept every contestant! I suppose it would be an unnecessary continuation from the critically acclaimed, ‘LOST’, (minus the black fog…hopefully) but nonetheless, the combined dedication and integrity behind each and every contestant has been pretty awesome to watch, even coming from a fellow contestant, up for the same internship. Thank you for your words of encouragement and the much needed vital advice. I think we can all take something away from this.

    12. Carynn Jackson says:

      Thank you, Ben! This is great advice. I know my sister and I wish we could make a dozen videos expressing all of the various reasons why we will be the best interns, but hopefully this one will do it and we will have the opportunity to prove it!

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    I've only had a chance to watch about half of the entries so far, but I've been amazed by the quality of many of videos, and the ambition and skill displayed by most of the contestants. I'm sorry that we'll have only one contest winner, because I've already seen a dozen or so contestants that seem like they could do great things on the island.
    
    We can't reward all of you with an island internship, but since the vast majority of you are in the market for a job or in school and soon to be in the market for a job, I'd like to at least give you a piece of advice that might help you land your dream job in the future, whatever it may be.
    
    [caption id="attachment_10483" align="alignnone" width="600" caption="Photo by Brady Withers"]Writing a Letter[/caption]
    
    I look at well over a thousand resumes and cover letters a year for the various positions we hire for, and most of them suck. If I had to guess, I'd say we at Amble probably only reach the first stage of interview (a quick 20-minute phone call) with less than 2% of the people who apply for jobs with us. That's pretty bad odds, and I'd bet that most companies have similar ratios of applicants to interviews.
    
    As a general rule, no one makes this first cut who doesn't at least provide a cover letter that shows they know what we do and states why they would be a good fit for us. (As I see it, if someone can't muster the 15 minutes it takes to learn a little about us and figure out what they can contribute to our cause, then they can't possibly cut it once they start work.)
    
    But if someone were to make a video like many of those I've seen, and provide a link to it in the first sentence of their cover letter with a statement along the lines of "I made this video just for you," I assure you they would warrant a first interview. If there's a job you want, you need to stand out, and videos like you guys have made will do just that; moreover, these videos reveal the kind of ambition and dedication that we (and employers at any other place worth working) look for in potential employees.
    
    So, if there's a job any of you really want, I would strongly suggest doing the above. I'm sure these videos took a ton of time and that this suggestion seems like a lot of work, but anything you can do to stand out and prove yourself in your introduction is incredibly important. Plus, I suspect you could use the majority of your video for multiple applications, by designing most of it to be applicable to any job and then just tailoring the first 20 or 30 seconds to each position for which you are applying (this is the same strategy you should use for your cover letters, BTW).
    
    Anyway, I hope some of you will take this advice to heart: it's a stiff job market out there (and it's always a stiff market for a good job), and I see so many worthless resumes that it was a breath of fresh air to watch these videos: they reveal your strengths, passions, and personalities in a way that a standard cover letter/resume combo never could.
    
    Thanks for sharing your work,
    
    Ben
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I've only had a chance to watch about half of the entries so far, but I've been amazed by the quality of many of videos, and the ambition and skill displayed by most of the contestants. I'm sorry that we'll have only one contest winner, because I've already seen a dozen or so contestants that seem like they could do great things on the island.

We can't reward all of you with an island internship, but since the vast majority of you are in the market for a job or in school and soon to be in the market for a job, I'd like to at least give you a piece of advice that might help you land your dream job in the future, whatever it may be.

[caption id="attachment_10483" align="alignnone" width="600" caption="Photo by Brady Withers"]Writing a Letter[/caption]

I look at well over a thousand resumes and cover letters a year for the various positions we hire for, and most of them suck. If I had to guess, I'd say we at Amble probably only reach the first stage of interview (a quick 20-minute phone call) with less than 2% of the people who apply for jobs with us. That's pretty bad odds, and I'd bet that most companies have similar ratios of applicants to interviews.

As a general rule, no one makes this first cut who doesn't at least provide a cover letter that shows they know what we do and states why they would be a good fit for us. (As I see it, if someone can't muster the 15 minutes it takes to learn a little about us and figure out what they can contribute to our cause, then they can't possibly cut it once they start work.)

But if someone were to make a video like many of those I've seen, and provide a link to it in the first sentence of their cover letter with a statement along the lines of "I made this video just for you," I assure you they would warrant a first interview. If there's a job you want, you need to stand out, and videos like you guys have made will do just that; moreover, these videos reveal the kind of ambition and dedication that we (and employers at any other place worth working) look for in potential employees.

So, if there's a job any of you really want, I would strongly suggest doing the above. I'm sure these videos took a ton of time and that this suggestion seems like a lot of work, but anything you can do to stand out and prove yourself in your introduction is incredibly important. Plus, I suspect you could use the majority of your video for multiple applications, by designing most of it to be applicable to any job and then just tailoring the first 20 or 30 seconds to each position for which you are applying (this is the same strategy you should use for your cover letters, BTW).

Anyway, I hope some of you will take this advice to heart: it's a stiff job market out there (and it's always a stiff market for a good job), and I see so many worthless resumes that it was a breath of fresh air to watch these videos: they reveal your strengths, passions, and personalities in a way that a standard cover letter/resume combo never could.

Thanks for sharing your work,

Ben
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