Finding an internship can be difficult. It’s often very competitive and not all companies readily accept interns. I had my first internship when I was 16. It was part of my school curriculum to do a 3-week internship. It is, unfortunately, the only one I’ve had since. As I’m sure you have too, I’ve applied to many companies since, but it was never successful. I have picked up a few things on that journey that I’d like to share with you, mostly things I learned from my mistakes. Whatever your situation is, whether you’re still in school or uni, internships are something many of us will have to go through at one point in our lives. So keep on reading to find out what to do when you’re looking for an internship!
Update your CV and cover letter
Depending on the internship that you’re applying for, companies will be looking for different skills. To give you the best chances, it is a good idea to tailor your CV to each business. That way you can ensure that only the relevant information is on there and that everything that makes you stand out as a candidate is on the page. You don’t have to make a brand new CV every time. Just use your normal one, make changes, save it as a new document (with the company name so you know who it’s for) and then close your basic CV without saving so it keeps the old version intact.
Many companies nowadays also require you to write a cover letter to showcase your interest in the business but also demonstrate your skills and enthusiasm for the role. Writing cover letters isn’t always easy, however, there are many resources online you can use to help you out. Don’t copy what you find online but, rather, use it as a tool to write your own cover letter that illustrates who you are and what you can bring to the role.
Ask for help
It’s always helpful to ask someone else for their opinion when it comes to CVs and cover letters. An outside perspective can bring up things that you might have missed or that need further explanation. Ideally, ask someone who has had more experience than you in the job world. This could be a parent, a teacher, a professor, a family friend, a colleague, etc. But don’t be afraid to not accept someone’s changes. If you feel like some of the advice you have gotten doesn’t work for you, don’t take it. But thank the person for their time anyway. Their comments could make you realise that another part of your CV or cover letter needs work.
Have mock interviews
If you have an upcoming interview or just want to be prepared, consider having a mock interview with someone. Again, ideally with someone who’s got some experience in the job world. Having a mock interview is a way for you to practice what you would answer to certain questions but can also make you feel more at ease about being in such a setting. Interviews won’t be as new and scary if you’ve done it before. Going to an interview can be nerve-wracking but just remember that it is a conversation where you and the company get to know each other. It’s a way to see whether or not you would be a good fit for the business/the position, but also to see if they are a good fit for you.
Networking can seem very intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be. Networking is about making connections with people. You can – and should – also use connections from people you know: family, friends, colleagues, teachers… Everyone knows different people, working in various jobs, positions and locations. Use it to your advantage! I also recommend listening to the Debrief Podcast‘s episode on networking, They give you great tips on what to do and what not to do. I recommend listening to all the episodes, as well as their new podcast Nobody Panic. Stevie and Tessa are really funny, relatable and give excellent advice!
Send a physical letter
When attending careers classes in uni, we were always told that if we wanted to land a job or an internship with a particular company, we should send them a physical letter. In an age where email communication has taken over, many of us get bombarded with a lot of them every day. I’m sure you’ve gotten into the habit of ignoring emails – or mark them as read, even though you didn’t open them, in an attempt to avoid that awful, little red number on your email app.
But ignoring a physical letter is much harder. They usually get opened and are more likely to be read. It’ll also show how committed you are to going the extra mile for that internship/company. So buy a large brown letter, print your CV and cover letter, pop them in and send them off. Try to find the person responsible for internships (maybe the head of HR) and address everything to them.
Look outside of your comfort zone
Just because you are studying a particular subject or know exactly what job you want to do later, you should not restrict what internships you look at. I believe it’s always a good idea to branch out slightly and gain a better understanding of the general environment. Say, for example, you’re studying fashion design. Instead of just looking up design studios to intern with, look at companies that work in textiles, in garment production and in retail. Doing internships in these related sectors will give you a great advantage against other competitors as it will show that you know the industry and are keen on learning new things. So go out looking for internships that might be slightly out of your comfort zone; they will teach you so much.
When looking for an internship, don’t be afraid to aim high. If you want to intern with the best company in the industry, go for it! It might not happen on the first try but persevere and I’m sure you will get there – or somewhere equally as good – eventually. Don’t settle for a company whose values you don’t share just because you don’t feel like you could get anything better. However, the same goes for the opposite scenario. If you don’t feel ready to intern at the company of your dreams or don’t want to go into a particular sector immediately, that’s okay too. You can start with a “less fancy” internship and work your way up. All work experience is great. Just be open to learning different things and you will do great, no matter where you choose to intern.
Opportunities may arise out of nowhere
Now to finish off this post, I want you to remember that opportunities can come out of nowhere when you least expect them. I was offered an internship when serving a customer at the till. Talk about unexpected! So don’t be afraid to grab ahold of branches that life gives you; you never know what might happen or where it might lead you to.
I hope you found this post somewhat helpful. If you’re currently looking for an internship, I wish you all the best. If you have any stories about internships you’ve done or any tips you have on finding one, I hope you have a lovely week and I look forward to seeing you again soon!