Whether you’re a college student with no work experience or a graduate trying to kickstart their career, internships are a superb way to make your first steps within the industry or field you are interested in.
Within your role, you’ll have the opportunity to work on projects, establish professional connections and develop your skillset and knowledge. In some cases, an internship can even lead to a full-time job offer.
However, getting the internship of your dreams is no easy task, as competition can be fierce.
For that reason, we have compiled a guide that will show you how to get an internship by following these steps.
1. Evaluate your qualifications
While internships are the ideal way to gain valuable work experience, it’s no use applying for every internship under the sun. The internships you apply for must be relevant to your field of interest; otherwise, you stand very little chance of landing one. As such, you need to evaluate your qualifications to find the right internship for you.
Some key questions to consider include:
- What kind of jobs can you get with your degree or qualifications?
- What relevant experience have you got?
- What are some of the skills you possess that will help you in a professional capacity?
- What areas of employment or career fields interest you?
- What industry can you see yourself working in?
Answering the above questions will help you narrow down potential internship opportunities you can apply for. Also, don’t just focus on landing an internship at a major conglomerate or well-known institution, especially if this is your first work gig. Instead, diversify your list of choices and approach smaller organisations or local businesses too, as they might be easier to tap into and get an internship with.
2. Find internship opportunities
The next thing you need to do if you want an internship is to find one!
If you’re currently at college or university, a great place to start is with your institution’s career services; keep an eye out for potential opportunities on your university’s career site!
Attending career fairs is also a great way to find more opportunities – and network! Indeed, there you’ll be able to engage with companies who are specifically looking for people with your qualifications or degree. Likewise, any relevant networking events could assist with your search.
Meanwhile, online job sites are the most obvious places to look for internships. Usually, there is a long list of paid and unpaid openings, and you can easily refine your search based on industry, location and field.
If you want to enrich your search effort, you can also utilise CareerAddict’s jobs platform for local and international internships!
You could also check individual company websites, especially if there are specific organisations you’d like to work for. Even if there aren’t any openings, you could always drop them an email asking for an internship.
Utilising your network is also an excellent strategy. Let your connections know you are searching for internship opportunities as well as the industry you are hoping to break into. These include teachers, professors, alumni and your career centre – the more people you reach out to the better! Even talking to friends will help – they may have relatives working within your field of interest and who may be able to help!
3. Create an impressive résumé
Once you’ve found the roles and companies you are interested in, you’ll need to prepare your internship application. This includes an outstanding résumé.
A clean and aesthetically appealing résumé will help you stand out. Using a high quality résumé template may also be a wise move as this can enhance its contents and supercharge your application, even if you have little to no experience.
A carefully written résumé will also give recruiters a positive first impression, too, as it will clearly display your most compelling information. Generally, an entry-level or student résumé should list your education and volunteer history at the top, especially if you have no relevant work experience. For example, if you were president of your college newspaper and are applying for an internship with The Telegraph, make sure to highlight this in your résumé.
Meanwhile, if you are applying for an advertised internship, adapt your résumé to that internship description. If the recruiter has listed specific skills required for the role, you need to demonstrate that you possess those skills clearly.
For instance, if you are applying for a graphic design internship scheme, emphasise relevant skills like Photoshop and InDesign and demonstrate how you’d be able to take on any duties that come with the said role.
4. Prepare a cover letter
It’s really important to write a cover letter that expresses your interest in the company. For example, if you’re applying for an internship at Amazon, you need to show you’re passionate about the company’s mission and well-read on its company culture and processes!
Also, do not use the same cover letter for every company. Instead, you should create different versions, each one tailored specifically to each company’s objectives, mission and internship role. Don’t forget to clearly state why you are the perfect fit for each internship programme!
5. Put together a stunning portfolio
Portfolios are usually an essential part of internship applications. They are also a brilliant way to showcase any projects you have contributed to while refining your personal brand.
You don’t need top-notch coding skills to create an online portfolio. Platforms such as WordPress, Adobe Portfolio and Squarespace offer simple and easy ways to create an impressive collection of your work that showcases yourself and your abilities.
Your portfolio should always focus on your best work. Even if you only have a handful of great examples, showcase them. Always lead with your best piece of work and look for ways to separate yourself from the crowd.
Finally, a great addition to your portfolio would be an ‘About’ page, offering insight into your background, personality and career objectives which will help employers understand how you fit into their culture. Here, it would help if you also linked to your social media feeds.
6. Clean up your social media profiles
Employers regularly use social media to screen candidates, so you need to ensure your profiles are squeaky clean prior to your internship search. Therefore, make sure your social media accounts, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, are ready for inspection.
For instance, use professional profile pictures and make sure there are no irrelevant or unnecessary photos that could reflect negatively on you. Manage your social media content, being careful about what you share online, and only post content that will highlight your professionalism.
Share content that is relevant to the field you are interested in, and avoid controversial topics, vulgar language or posting negative comments online. You could also opt to make some of your personal social accounts private and keep them out of recruiters’ reach.
7. Prepare for the interview
Once you land an internship interview, it’s time to do some advance prep! Do your homework on the company by researching as much as possible about their objectives, executives, competitors and company culture.
You should also practise answering common internship interview questions, and use all of your research to come up with answers relating to the company and the role you are hoping to land.
During your interview, be enthusiastic, keep steady eye contact and pay attention to your interviewers. You should also ensure to dress appropriately and follow the company’s own dress code. Answer questions as specifically as possible, reflecting on experiences and ideas to reinforce your answers. Don’t get too caught up with what you think the interviewer wants to hear. Instead, aim to showcase your best self by being authentic and professional.
Don’t forget to prepare a few smart questions to ask your interviewers at the end of your interview.
8. Send a follow-up email
After the interview, send a follow-up email thanking the interviewer for their time. Choose something memorable from the interview and mention how you enjoyed that particular discussion. This is a great way to differentiate yourself from other candidates and will hopefully give you a winning edge.
If you don’t hear back from them after a few weeks, it might be wise to enquire about the status of your application – just make sure to allow enough time to pass since your last interview, especially if it’s a big company with multiple intern candidates.
9. Send a thank you letter
Regardless if you got the internship or not, it’s important to send a thank you letter or email once you do hear back from them. If your application is unsuccessful, take the time to thank the hiring manager for their time and consideration.
Be gracious in your thank you letter, and ensure the hiring manager knows you are still interested in working for the company in future. It’s also beneficial if you ask for feedback about the interview, as this will allow you to gain actionable insights. Take the time to reflect on the interview, addressing the areas you can improve in the future. This way, you’ll be much more prepared in the future.
On the other hand, if your application is successful, be sure to respond to the offer promptly, and give them an answer no later than the following day.
Getting an internship requires patience, persistence and diligence. Although the process of finding and applying to internship programmes is time-consuming and demanding, you could land the internship of your dreams by following the above steps!
Even if you get a few rejections, persist! Hopefully, it will be a matter of time before your efforts pay off!
Have you got any questions regarding internships? Share them with us in the comments section below!