How to secure the right intern position for you at University

Posted in: Student Careers

With the graduate market becoming increasingly competitive, having an internship on your CV is fast becoming an essential way to stand out from the crowd.

Internships are a great way to get hands-on experience of your chosen field and potentially kick-start your career after graduation. Most industries offer them, and the skills and experience gained during the placement can prove invaluable.

In this blog we’ll take a look at how you can find an internship, the best ways to apply for them and how to land that all-important job afterwards.

How to find an internship

The first step to finding the right internship for you is to consider what kind of position you’d like, and in what industry. This might be related directly to your degree subject, or something else you’re interested in. Once you’ve made a choice, then it’s a matter of sourcing one that’s available!

Here are our tips on how to find an internship at University:

  • Check the web – Most internships are advertised online, and there are some websites that are great for filtering down the ones that are suitable for you – check out Prospects and the gov.uk site, both of which are regularly updated with new positions.
  • Search your social media networks – Don’t be afraid to use your social connections to search for an internship. LinkedIn in particular is good for discovering business opportunities. More creative industries may advertise on platforms like Instagram or Twitter, so keep an eye out there too.
  • Visit a jobs fair – Your University may hold a jobs/internships fair, where businesses visit the campus to talk to students about upcoming opportunities. Keep an eye out for events like this and try to attend if you can.

How to apply for an internship

Internship placements can be almost as competitive as grad jobs, so a strong application is essential. Application methods can vary; some companies might have a specific application form on their website, while others might ask for an application in writing or via email. Whichever it is, you’ll want to do the following things before hitting that send button.

Start by researching the company extensively. It’s good to know the ins and outs of what they do, what makes them tick and what their values are. Not only will this help determine whether you’ll enjoy working there, but you’ll be able to use this knowledge to your advantage in your application/interview.

Next, finetune your CV. Make sure your education and work experience is all up-to-date, and that you’ve clearly highlighted the skills that are relevant to the position you’re applying for.

Finally, you’ll need to write a cover letter that showcases why you’d be a perfect fit for the placement. It’s essential that this letter is tailored specifically to the company and the internship they have available – a blanket version copy and pasted to everyone won’t cut it! If you can, research who at the company is likely to review applications and address your letter to them directly.

Concerned about how to get an internship with no experience? Don’t worry – many companies will mostly be looking for the right attitude, rather than years of experience on the ground. Be proactive and diligent and you should have no problem.

How to turn an internship into a job offer

Sometimes, an internship can turn into something more than just an experience – it could become a job offer. It makes sense why companies are keen to take on interns on a full-time basis; they’ve already proven their capability, and it means cutting out a potentially lengthy recruitment process. But what can you do to make that a reality?

Here are just a few of the things that could help you land a full-time position off the back of your internship:

  • Be inquisitive – Potential employers will want to see that you’re engaged and interested in the company, so ask plenty of questions about aspects of the business/job you’re keen to learn about.
  • Show great time management – It goes without saying that you need to be punctual throughout the duration of your internship. Whether it’s arriving promptly at the start of the day or turning in your assignments on time, it’s important that your time management is impeccable.
  • Establish good connections – Networking has never been more important, so get your name out there. A good reputation can go a long way, so make as many valuable connections as you can – from the people high up the chain to those on a similar level.
  • Ask – After all, if you don’t ask, you don’t get! Make it known that you’re interested in a permanent role, and ask about the likelihood of one being available. Your supervisor/HR contact should be honest, and you may just open a door that otherwise would have remained closed.

Bear in mind that landing a permanent role all depends on the circumstances – the company needs to have an opening available in the first place, so don’t be too disheartened if it doesn’t turn into anything this time round.

Obtaining a relevant internship during your time at University can go a long way towards kick-starting your career, or at least giving you the key skills to carry forward in whatever you choose to do. If you need any advice, be sure to speak to a tutor or careers counsellor if you have one. They’ll be best placed to help you with finding and applying for a placement. Good luck!

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