There was one word that always made me nervous during my first year of university, and that word was internship.
There were two things I knew about internships:
- It was the key to getting real-life experience in the industry;
- And it involved me going into a workplace with a bunch of professionals I didn’t know.
As a shy 18-year-old, that was basically my worst nightmare. I had dealt with social anxiety for a number of years… and yet I knew that this was something I couldn’t avoid.
I spent the first two years of my three-year uni course avoiding applying for internships and told myself that in Year 3 I would start applying. Many of the internships my tutors recommended were meant for third-year students anyway.
But once I got to the end of my second year, I knew it was go-time!
Phase One: The Application
Here are some things you need to know about applying for internships!
- The truth is: most internships will be unpaid. But try not to think of them as an unpaid ‘job’. Think of your internship as a field trip, where your goal is to watch, learn and apply this learning to different tasks that they set you.
- Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Apply for as many internships as you can!
- Don’t be disheartened if you don’t hear back. Most of the time, employers receive a large number of applicants and won’t contact applicants unless they are successful. Keep trying!
- Some internships, especially writing ones, may ask for more than just a resume and cover letter, so be prepared. A magazine I applied for asked that applicants write a 500-word article relating to travel. I wrote this, applied, and never even heard back. It happens.
- Resumes should include: your name, student or personal email, relevant job/work experience, recent education, soft skills and hard skills, leadership roles and achievements, published works (if you have any!) and references. Microsoft Word has some great resume and cover letter templates to help you get started!
- This isn’t compulsory, but having a LinkedIn URL that you can add to your resume is incredibly beneficial. This way, your employer can get a glimpse of your experience and who you are before they meet you.
- Have the skeleton of a cover letter written up so you can slightly change it for each place you apply to.
- Ask your tutor for help! When I was stuck searching for internships, I expressed my worries to my tutor and she forwarded me some internships. This is how I scored my internship. Use your tutors, they are there to help you out!
Phase Two: Interview/Trial Preparation
Congrats! You scored an interview/trial! Now, time to prepare…
- Make sure you have an appropriate outfit picked out. Dress how the employees dress. Smart casual is always best.
- Do your research. I know we always hear this, but it really does help to do a bit of research, even if you just have a little look on their website. During the interview, they may put you on the spot, so you have to be prepared! Do they have a website? Social media? Check them out!
- Make sure you get to the interview on time! If you’re super nervous about where you’re going, try to go there earlier in the week so you know exactly where to go.
- Interviews are scary… and everybody knows this! Don’t be too hard on yourself. Have great manners, shake the interviewer’s hand upon meeting them and listen. The better you are at listening, the better you’ll be able to answer any questions they have. Thank them at the end for their time.
Phase Three: On the Job
Wow! You got the internship. Go you! Here are some things to remember when on the job at your new workplace!
- Be warm and polite to new members of the team you meet. Try to remember their names. Ask them about themselves. Try not to be too sassy or arrogant straight up. There is plenty of time for you to build a close relationship with your co-workers.
- Know your place. As an intern you should remain polite and well-mannered no matter what the other employees are allowed to say or do.
- Use proper email etiquette. (Hi there, Kind regards, etc)
- Don’t be scared to ask questions! You’ll learn a lot by asking your employer how things work, or why they choose to avoid or embrace certain styles of content.
- Show initiative. If you have a great idea for a pitch, let them know! Even if they don’t use your idea, it’ll show your employer that you’re keen to use what you’ve learnt so far to channel it into their business/content.
- Try not to call out your employer’s mistakes when you first start your internship. Although it’s great to impress employers by showing them our high attention to detail, it can be inappropriate to bring up a mistake that an employer has made. Remember, you are there to learn from them.
Enjoy every moment. You may only be there for 6 weeks, or you may be there for 6 months. Nevertheless, you should take every opportunity to soak in everything they teach you, because it’ll help you immensely when you apply for a full-time job. (Who knows, they might even offer you an opportunity to work for them at the end!)