How to Get an Internship
Going for an internship is a great way to gain work experience and learn new skills. With the job market becoming increasingly competitive, internships have become a popular avenue for students and graduates to get the work experience needed for that extra edge in their job applications.
That said, it can get pretty competitive and stressful when it comes to landing an intern position at your ideal company or industry.
Although internship-searching can be tough, you can always start by preparing early. Here are some tips to help make the process easier.
Before you start the search…
Identify your goals and interests
Before you even start looking for an internship, it is important for you to have a clear purpose of the stint. So instead of applying for one just to meet your course’s requirements, you should think of the long term and apply for a position that is relevant to the industry you want to pursue a career in. Additionally, you should consider the particular areas within your field that you would like to focus on.
For instance, you may be a mechanical engineer who is interested in pursuing a career in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) industry in the future. You can thus opt for a placement in the manufacturing department of a FMCG company. By having a clear understanding of your interests and aspirations, you can narrow down your search and zoom in on the perfect role that’ll meet your needs.
Prepare your résumé
Considering the fact that you are seeking an internship, you would most likely have limited experience to present in your résumé. Don’t worry, that’s expected!
You could include some of the modules or areas of study that make up for your current qualification. A full list of subjects or modules is not advisable, as it will not say much about you. Instead, come up with a carefully curated list of subjects or modules that you excel in and are relevant to the role.
You can get advice and tips on writing CVs and résumés here.
Starting your search…
Visit careers services
If you haven’t booked an appointment with your school’s careers services centre, you should do so a.s.a.p. When it comes to looking for internships and career advice, there are few people better-placed to provide assistance than the experts you’ll find in careers services!
The careers advisors on your campus can tell you what internships are on offer, if they have a placement programme and how it operates. Take the time to book a consultation session to start prepping and planning ahead for your internship and career.
Networking is very helpful in your search for a work placement as well as for a graduate job in the future. The saying “it’s not what you know, but who you know” is most definitely true when it comes to getting leads to kickstart your career.
Participate in networking events during your time in school whether they’re organised by the career centre or clubs and societies that are relevant to your interests. Through the events, you may be able to find out about internship or placement opportunities.
You should also establish contact with seniors and alumni who have gone on to work in fields that are relevant to you. If you’re not sure how to start, join networking events that include alumni from your school.
Alternatively, you can also attend career fairs to meet recruiters face-to-face, where you have the opportunity to get to know potential employers and vice versa. It is a good way to make a positive impression, and may lead to employment opportunities whether it is for an internship or a full-time position.
However, keep in mind that networking doesn’t immediately lead to employment opportunities. It is incredibly important for you to follow up with the contacts you’ve made. You can drop them a well-crafted email to ask them if they can connect you with any opportunities.
You may not realise it, but not all internships and work experience opportunities are advertised. Many smaller or local employers may not have the budget to advertise internship openings.
That said, you won’t actually know if these employers are looking for interns unless you submit a speculative application.
If you already have your eyes fixed on a specific industry, you can create a shortlist of employers in the career sectors that interest you. Search engines and LinkedIn are your best bet to getting the information you need for this shortlisting process.
Once you have a shortlist of employers, you’ll need to contact them by emailing them a cover letter and CV or by dropping off your application in person. Don’t be afraid to give them a call if you don’t hear from them a week or so after submitting your application.
Remember – following up is imperative!