Everyone has slightly different motivations for going to university. But one that we can hopefully agree on is the desire to get a job at the end of it. This is why it’s a good idea to obtain as much experience as possible.
In this article, I’ll write a bit about the importance of doing an internship and how to get one. As I’ve mentioned in my last blog post, I’m now back from my year abroad in Denmark and I’m doing a summer internship in London.
Why Do an Internship
- Gain ‘real life‘ experience – there’s a difference between theory and practice. The theory is useful, but get some practice.
- Find out if it’s right for you – unless you’re training to become a surgeon or a lawyer, most young people only have a vague idea of what they want to do when they graduate, and there’s nothing wrong with that. An internship puts your foot in the door, it gives you a taste of what the industry is like and whether it’s something that you can imagine making a career out of.
- Develop useful skills – after just a few weeks into my internship, I’m already developing a number of skills. I’m sure that these will carry over into my final year of studies at the University of Leicester.
- Discipline & willpower – getting into the habit of waking up early and working until the evening every day is a good experience in itself. Graduate employers will respect that more than someone who chose to do nothing over their entire summer holiday.
How to Get an Internship
- Apply early – meet the deadlines. If it’s big firms that you want to apply for, you should aim to complete your applications before Christmas.
- Consider start-ups – start-up companies are a great way to work in a small team, get more individual support, and gain invaluable experience. If you’re entrepreneurial, this can help you to see how it’s done. Enternships and Escape the City are two good places to look for start-up internship positions.
- Be positive – portray yourself as someone who others would want to work with.
- Be persistent – I applied many positions before I got my summer internship. It’s naturally frustrating to get rejected, but you have to get over it. I see the whole process as having been a useful experience. I like to think that I’ve learnt something new each time and that I got slightly better for each application.
- Sell yourself – no lewd connotations intended – self-promotion comes naturally to some, it’s more difficult for others. If you think that you’re right for the job, you need to be able to express it.
- Be prepared – practice interviews out loud in your room. It might feel weird to talk to yourself, but it makes the real thing much easier and more natural-sounding. If you can, go over the questions that you are likely to be asked with a friend or a family member.
- Perfect your CV and cover letters – your CV should be consistent, well-presented and concise. The cover letter should be unique, not too long, and polite.
These are some of the main tips that I have to offer. Keep in mind that you don’t need to do an internship. It’s experience that you should be after. That could be anything from volunteering to part-time work. As long as you have something to show for, you can put yourself in a better position for getting a job at the end of your studies. Good luck!