Internships – where to start?
Here at University Compare, we believe that your first year at university is for living. It’s the time you get to party a lot, work a little, meet new people and have the time of your life. However, once you’ve got through to the second year it begins to get serious and you need to start thinking about the future and what it has in store for you.
Internships are one of the best ways to get your foot in the career door of your choice. You get to experience hands on what is expected of you, learn new skills and sometimes get paid as you do. It’s the best way to make the most of those long summers between term times.
However valuable internships they are, they aren’t easy to obtain, it’s important to start looking at employment fairs at the start of your second year to get ahead of the game. If you decide to leave it until the end of the second term to sign up to your employment bureau then you may be making your life harder than it needs to be.
Don’t fear, as we approach December some of you may be in the midst of your drunken first year and some may be head down in the library trying to juggle job applications on top of your dissertation proposal. Whatever point you’re at in your university life, take a moment to weigh up your options for potential career paths.
No idea where to start? That’s what we’re here for. Start by getting active online!
The Internet is host to a number of websites designed purely to make finding a job easier for you. Our personal favourite is ratemyplacement. Rate my placement not only advertise internships available for application but also rates them, shows reviews from previous interns and allows you to manage your applications on the website. A lot of companies use ratemyplacement.co.uk as a promotional tool so you are connected directly to thousands of companies who are waiting to employ you.
Whilst we’re on the subject of being active online, it’s important that you understand your online profile is as important as your interview techniques. We don’t mean your CV (we’ll come to that later) we mean how you present yourself on social networking sites. It’s easy to come across as a professional when you’re sat in the interview chair, reeling off percentages from your marketing degree and how well you did at A Level. However, you need to realise that when companies look for employees, they find it hard to distinguish between candidates if they all have a 2:1 so they look elsewhere to find out if they are right for the job.
You might not think it, but your Facebook and Twitter profiles are often their first port of call. It’s for this reason that it’s crucial you present yourself well online.Before you begin applying for graduate jobs its perhaps a good idea to change your profile picture from a messy night out to a more sensible photo, and to delete tweets such as; ‘cant be bothered with this interview today’ and ‘feel so unmotivated who wants to go out?’ Employers are not impressed by laziness and this will reflect badly on you, even it is your personal time.
Your CV is also an important factor and it will serve you well to alter it for each job you apply for. Writing a student CV should include all your qualifications, grades and experiences. This may seem a strenuous task as undergraduates apply for a huge number of internships a day, but its better to apply for one properly, tailoring your CV to match their needs, than to apply for five and send a standard CV listing your hobbies and interests (no employer wants to know that you enjoy reading and socialising with friends).
Always include a covering letter with your CV, use this as an opportunity to tell the employer why exactly you are right for the internship. If you’re a design student, make sure that an online portfolio is ready and mention that this is available in your cover letter. In some cases, physical copies are needed and you need to be prepared for this. Having your work presented in an A1 folder may seem a little old school, but it does still get asked for so we strongly advise having this ready.
Lastly, if your specially tailored CV and cover letter have landed you an interview our advice to you is do your background research. Preparing properly for an interview is key to being successful. Learning about the history of the company you are applying for, how they work and what they aim to do will make you stand out above the rest in the interview room. We don’t mean do a quick Wikipedia check on them, we mean real research. Try to find out any recent happenings within the company. When the interviewer asks if you have any questions, bring up recent news on the company and give any advice you have on how you would have handled that situation. Don’t worry about coming across as too forward, giving your opinion shows initiative and they will be sure to remember you.
Remember that confidence is key, present yourself smartly and speak clearly, interviewers aren’t there to catch you out, they want you to do well, you just need to prove to them you’re right for the internship. Good luck!