The word internship stands for a pre-professional work experience that provides students, recent graduates, and those seeking to change careers with the opportunity to gain experience in a particular career field. Realistically speaking an internship is an opportunity for people to explore their skills, figure out their career preferences, and a chance for personal and professional growth. You probably have dozens of questions in mind; when should I start looking for an internship? Why do I need one and how can I find it? We’ll answer these questions and give you practical tips to help you land your dream internship.
Why do you need an internship?
If you’re still wondering if you really need to find an internship check the following statistics:
Studies revealed that students have a 7 in 10 chance of landing a job with the company they interned with.
But it’s not just about finding a job, internships are far more important for both your personal and professional growth. Take my experience for example. During my highschool years I interned at a private hospital in the radiology department to get a taste of what the medical profession may look like. Verdict, not so much my scene. So, if you haven’t decided which career path or industry suits you, an internship is a good way to get you exposure to various opportunities, help you gain experience and develop knowledge that you need for your future job. For people between jobs, it can also be a bridge between an unsatisfying career and a potentially new and exciting venture. Perhaps you’ll even be lucky and find a paid internship and earn a few bucks which is always a good idea, right?
How can you find the right internship?
The best way to find the perfect internship is generally by casting a wide net, because you aren’t the only one vying for those believe it or not coveted positions. Networking, attending career fairs, searching online and creating an online portfolio are all methods that you can use to look for the right internship. Finding one requires both time and planning, so the earlier you start looking the better, and believe me the results are definitely worth the effort.
Here are some recommendations for those seeking a successful internship.
- Learn new skills.
- Build your network.
- Present yourself the right way.
Learn new skills
Do you think that your degree is enough to land you an internship? Think again. We’re not saying that your degree isn’t important, but there are certain skills that will make you ace your internship interview and surpass the other applicants. You won’t necessarily be born with these personal and professional skills, most of the time you’ll have to learn them. The most wanted skills include creativity, collaboration, persuasion and time management. My advice to you to acquire these skills is to volunteer, join student activities, research online courses and lectures, and read about them to expand your knowledge. For example, at university I used to be a team leader at AIESEC and additionally volunteered as a life-saver on weekends, sometimes competing in first-aid competitions on weekends. It doesn’t seem like a lot but learning to remain calm under pressure and manage people are skills I acquired through these activities. Our experiences shape us and help us develop our interpersonal and professional skills, so try to learn from every situation you’re in.
Build your network
Career networking a very efficient way to help you find an internship. The key to networking is being bold and courageous; speak with family, friends, college advisors, and career counselors about what type of internship you want. You’ll be surprised by the amount of help and support that they will show, and even if they weren’t able to help you find one they’ll share some valuable advice with you or provide you with beneficial leads for your search. Student advisors in universities also can help you find internships and they have good connections. So, don’t hesitate to consult your advisor or the after-grad center in your university to ask for connections and recommendations. Even after graduating, subscribe to alumni newsletters or groups as there are some great opportunities and connections that can be made through your ongoing, loyal school network.
Career networking isn’t only about reaching out to people that you know, you can also get in touch with employees who work for the company that you’d like to intern for or with people who hold work in an industry that you aspire for. Draft an introductory message and contact them through professional networks like LinkedIn and ask for their advice and help. I love to write and had always wanted to try my hand in journalism, but got stuck on the PR-side. So, I did something similar and by reaching out to some editors I was able to have a few news articles published on different topics throughout the years. Nothing career-changing, but experiencing that made me proud of my own achievements and more aware that I was good at marketing and business management. You may find that not everyone gets back to you but don’t let that discourage your from putting yourself out there.
Present yourself the right way
Some people totally neglect this crucial point, perhaps because they aren’t familiar with the tools that they can use to present their skills and themselves properly. If you want to have a shot at getting that perfect internship, you have to go beyond the advertised openings, LinkedIn posts and your personal network. You can go above and beyond by looking for a contact at your target company, reaching out and requesting a meeting. You’ll also need to do a lot of research on the company and write a carefully-crafted email that shows how passionate you are about the position and showcase your skills and previous accomplishments.
If that’s not enough, why don’t you build your own personal website that will act as your online portfolio or business card and better yet link to your personal domain name. If you don’t have the technical knowledge to build your own website you can try GoDaddy’s Website Builder tool and build a professional looking website in under an hour.
Where can you find an internship?
Keep in mind that the internet is packed with internship searching websites and dedicated mobile apps solemnly for employers to post job vacancies and for potential candidates to apply. The most famous platform is LinkedIn and it’s for job searching, career networking, job posting and sometimes circulating professional information. These are some other well-known portals that you can use to find an internship:
Are you ready yet?
For many students and fresh graduates, an internship is their first opportunity to get to know an industry, a job role and the working culture of a company. We know that the search can be tiring and a little bit daunting; it might take months to land an interview. But as I previously mentioned, the earlier you start the better. Hopefully with the tips I’ve shared above, you will feel a bit more confident in your search.
So, one parting tip: don’t give up or feel down, because we’ve all been there!