You’ll hear lots about the value of an internship but why is it so important?
Firstly it gives you a real insight into the world of work –
· What your potential chosen career might look like on a daily basis.
· It gives you chance to find out if you have made the right choice. If you have and you’re sure, then you will have real life experience to add to your CV and there’s a chance that if you’ve been successful, you’ll be offered a job when the next vacancy becomes available.
· Also it gives you the opportunity to network and make contacts within the industry and get your face known, so that when you are looking for a job, you’ll have already made some useful contacts.
Some internships are paid and some aren’t, so look around and see what’s offered. Sometimes money isn’t the most important thing though – you’ll have chance to learn new skills – soft skills like time management, as well as something more tangible like a specific computer skill. If earning money is your priority, see if you could do a part time job alongside part time work experience if the internship is unpaid.
According to research by High Fliers, more than 33% of recruiters taking part in the research said that graduates without work experience stand virtually no chance of getting on a graduate programme. In a competitive world, absolutely everything matters and you need to do what you can to put yourself ahead of your peers.
Historically, students have looked for an internship that takes place during their summer holiday of their second year – but there will be opportunities throughout your time at university and the more you can do, the better. A number of employers now offer work experience placements for first year undergraduates, as well as opportunities to find out more with open days, introductory courses and in some cases, taster experiences.
More than 75% of organisations are now offering paid internships and 50% will offer industrial placements for undergraduates – if they are forming part of the degree course then they may last between 6 and 12 months, otherwise an internship can be a number of weeks.
You’ll need to look about a year ahead – applications often open during September and October for a placement the following summer, and the application deadlines will vary, so do your research ahead of time. Some companies have rolling deadlines if they have a range of placements – so check carefully with the companies that you are interested in, and prepare early.
If you already know where you would like to work, you can apply directly to the company – find out when their application process opens and make sure you’re prepared and ready with your CV and personal statement – making careful that it’s tailored to the company specifically, check and double check for any spelling mistakes and ask someone to read it over for you.
Some companies that have an established internship programme, will fast-track successful candidates on a graduate career path after completion of their degree – so make sure you stand out from the crowd. It really could be an invaluable opportunity.
If you’re not yet sure of a specific company or direction, then ask around – ask friends, parents, family members, as well as tutors on your course. Or if the company you’re looking at doesn’t have an established internship programme, write and ask them if they’d consider starting one with you – if you’re keen and would like to gain the experience as a priority over being paid, try a smaller possibly local company. They might find it harder to refuse and certainly wouldn’t knock your enthusiasm. They may be able to offer a work shadow opportunity if they can’t do a full internship. Remember that any experience will be valuable to you in the future.
If you are successful with a smaller company, you can make a noticeable difference and are more likely to be given some project work that you can see through from beginning to end. There is also likely to be more flexibility and the whole work experience can be tailored to suit you.
Where can you find out which companies are offering internships?
· campus recruitment presentations
· careers fairs
· online advertising – internship specialist websites individual company websites social media
· skills training events
· university careers services
The time spent will be invaluable – it’s a great thing to be able to put on your CV or next application form and shows you’re serious about your chosen field.
As we’ve said before – success isn’t random – it’s up to you to make the most of your time and opportunities – go out and find an internship and get some experience that will help shape your career. Take as much time over your application as you would for a job application and use our tips on previous posts to make sure your application is as good as it possibly can be.
From the mybrink team, good luck!