Today’s educational market provides courses ranging from medicine to journalism and even photography. Due to such a vast number of options and the rise of specialisation courses, there exists a cut-throat competition for graduate-level employment opportunities in the job market. Possessing only a degree is no longer sufficient for an aspiring student to get a lucrative employment offer. Most companies today prefer candidates with a good degree who also possess requisite work experience and professional work skills. To help students and to create a pool of ‘knowledge workers’, i.e., employees having requisite knowledge about the job, the business world brought a program known as an internship program. Thus, an internship is a professional learning opportunity that provides students with relevant, hands-on work connected to their area of study or career interest. A student can explore and enhance their career while learning new skills through an internship. It builds an early understanding of what a job requires of its potential employees and can assist students in developing their skill sets in that direction.
However, most students feel that securing good internships is indomitable, leaving them stressed and perplexed. Reasons such as lack of information, lack of networking skills, strict standards for interns, underdeveloped skill sets, and suboptimal CVs and resumes contribute to the difficulty in securing good internships. However, contrary to popular opinion, securing an internship is not a herculean task. It is a task which requires consistency, hard work and perseverance coupled with innovative work. Keeping in mind the confusion among students on this topic, we have outlined a few practical tips on securing a good internship in this article.
Importance of internships
In today’s highly competitive job markets, internships give most students an edge. Most internship programs require an intern to work between a month and twelve months. Along with the traditional offline office-based internships, several companies have also started offering convenient virtual, work-from-home-based internships providing almost the same experience as an offline one. It is noteworthy that companies from all sectors of the business world have opened their workspace to interns. This indicates the importance of internships in the current professional space.
A few points of importance of internships among students are as follows.
- Provides real-time job experience: The most desired quality that recruiters look for among fresh graduates is work experience. A student with work experience with an actual company is more likely to secure a job offer than a student without experience. Thus, internships are a great way to gain crucial work experience and learn early what a particular job demands from its workforce.
- Provides networking opportunities: Networking involves meeting new people who have similar interests, occupations, or professions. It leads to exchanging ideas and knowledge with these people, which opens several new avenues for an individual. An internship program usually involves a group of interns who work and collaborate on several tasks. Moreover, the guidance an intern may receive from their mentors or other professionals at their internship place provides them with valuable insights and practical knowledge about the field.
- Allows one to discover their interests: Often, students, due to lack of knowledge about a particular field of work, regret choosing it later. Internships help students analyse their interests in various work fields and help streamline their goals. By interning with multiple organisations, they would be better equipped to understand which jobs they are interested in.
- Develops technical skills: As internships involve working on various tasks directly related to a workplace’s actual work, they equip students with the requisite technical skills required for a workplace. For example, law internships often involve drafting and filing petitions, which are not taught in law universities. Such essential skills can be developed by a student only when they intern.
- Simulate the real world: Internships provide a window to see how the real world works. Students are placed in comfortable environments in their universities and are often oblivious to the challenging and demanding nature of a workplace. Thus, internships help students acclimate to real-world operations and help them develop skillsets that shall assist them in the real world.
Steps to secure an internship
Most students find the task of finding and applying for internships demanding. Students must understand that the process of securing an internship is a time-taking yet highly rewarding experience. Starting your process in a structured, step-by-step manner shall help streamline the process and lead to positive outcomes. Fret not; as we mentioned, here are the steps you can follow to secure a good internship!
Step 1: Finding a relevant internship opportunity
The first step in securing an internship is finding an internship opportunity that suits your interests and can help develop your skillsets.
Start by writing down what kind of internship you are looking for. For instance, if you are a data engineering graduate, you should look for data engineering internships at reputed IT companies. If you are a student of journalism, then you should be looking for editorial internships at good media houses.
Once you decide on the type of internship you are looking for, you might wonder, where do I find such opportunities? A few sources to find internships are as follows:
- Internship finders or search engines: Popular internship finders include Indeed, Internshala, LetsIntern, Glassdoor, Hello Intern etc.
- Social media: Social media apps such as LinkedIn are a great place to find internship opportunities and network with professionals from a particular field of work.
- Job Fairs: Job fairs host many companies, and you can visit a few to find out about internship opportunities being provided by these companies.
- Networking: Put your social skills to use and interact with seniors or mentors who have already secured an internship. Gain experience and learn about new opportunities by building a good network.
- Placement assistance cells: Several universities have dedicated placement cells that provide internship directories. These directories include contact details and other helpful information about various internship opportunities.
- Cold calling organisations: You can search for a particular company’s contact details, such as their HR manager or recruiting manager’s email address or office phone numbers and cold call or email them enquiring about internship opportunities at their organisation.
Step 2: Writing a good resume and cover letter
Once you select a particular internship opportunity, the next step is the application process. The critical elements of the application process are a resume and a cover letter.
A resume gives a prospective employer a quick overview of a person’s strengths and weaknesses. A resume is a succinct overview of a person’s skills, experience, and qualifications for a particular position. It typically has a cover letter and is 1 to 2 pages long. Typically, factual material is included on a resume. A resume should contain information on past employment history, honours and recognition, educational background, hard and soft skills, and other relevant details.
A cover letter, also known as a motivation letter, is a document submitted to the recruiter during the application process that gives a brief overview of the applicant’s personal and professional information. Typically, a cover letter will have a paragraphed personal statement. It could include information such as what made you want to apply for the position, why you are qualified for it, what abilities best describe your appropriateness, etc.
Writing a convincing resume and a moving cover letter is key to securing your preferred internships. As recruiters receive hundreds of applications daily, a resume and cover letter that stands out significantly increases your chances of being selected for training.
A few things to keep in mind while writing a resume and a cover letter are as follows:
- Use resume builders
- Check for the latest formats and layouts
- Format your resume and cover letter in a professional tone
- Remember to include your contact information, professional objective, educational history, relevant work experience, volunteer experience, skills, honours and recognition etc.
- Customise your resume and cover letter according to the role you are applying for. For instance, highlight your communication and drafting skills if you apply for a law internship.
Step 3: Keep your social media profiles updated
Social media is an influential space that most recruiters use to verify potential candidates. Social media profiles on applications such as LinkedIn are a great way to conveniently network and exhibit your skills and experience to a large audience.
Use such applications professionally and avoid casual conversations or activities. Connect with professionals and seniors who can help expedite your process.
Step 4: Prepare for the interview stage
Once your application is reviewed and you have been shortlisted among the thousands who have applied for the role, organisations shall conduct a personal interview. A personal interview involves face-to-face interaction between the applicant and the recruiters. The recruiters usually try to analyse if the applicant has the aptitude for the role and has the requisite personality traits to deal with the work.
Most students adopt a casual approach to the interview stage, leading to their disqualification or rejection. A few points to keep in mind before attending an interview are as follows:
- Read about the industry and the job profile
- Revise a few concepts related to the industry
- Be confident and adopt a professional demeanour
- Practice speaking with your friends or mentors
- Be sure of the goals and objectives you want to achieve with the internship
- Identify your key takeaways from this opportunity
- List your strengths and weaknesses
- Be accommodating and responsive
- Understand interview etiquette
- Prepare a few mock questions and answer them yourself
Step 5: Follow up
The final step is to follow up with the company to which you have applied. Once the application process is done does not mean securing an internship is complete. Writing a follow-up sets the final stage to impress your recruiter and secure an internship.
Post-interview, write an email or call the primary contact person and gently ask them for an update regarding your application. Communicate your willingness to intern and your passion for gaining such an opportunity. However, remember not to overdo this step. Excessively writing emails or calling your recruiter may leave an unpleasant note and decrease your chances of gaining an internship.
These are a few steps one can follow to secure a good internship. Internships are a great way to boost career development and help ensure early employment opportunities. By following the above-mentioned steps, a student can significantly increase their chance of getting an internship.