This article gives a snapshot of the steps required to secure an internship or placement.
Many students find it difficult to secure an internship or placement. However, there are several things you can do to give you the edge in this highly competitive market.
- Personal Assessment
Looking for an internship requires many of the same steps as looking for a job. You must assess your goals and career aspirations and sketch out your ideal career path before you look at placements. This will help you when assessing whether an internship is suitable or not. You should also consider your financial needs – many internships are unpaid and you may need to travel or commute, so you need to have an idea of what you can afford before you start sending applications.
Research and Networking
After personal assessment, research and networking are key. Information about companies is now available all over the internet and social media platforms, so there is no excuse for not doing your research. You should also network within your industry. This will help with gathering information about companies and vacancies in those companies. Job websites are also an essential resource for research and opportunities, and it is an advantage to set up job alerts.
- Information Gathering
Some companies do not advertise vacancies for internships, so you should contact companies you are interested in directly to ensure you don’t miss any opportunities. The HR department should be your first point of call when doing this. If there is an opening, you should request a meeting to gather more information on the role, either over the phone or in person. You will need information on the application requirements, person specification, job role, and the application deadline. This is also a good opportunity to ask any questions pertaining to the needs you identified in your personal assessment, such as location and whether the role is paid.
- Application Process
After gathering information and weighing the available options, it is time to begin applications. You must know the key requirements of every internship and company you intend to apply for and tailor your resume and cover letter to highlight how your experience and qualifications fit these requirements. Some companies do not require any cover letter, which makes customising your CV for each role even more important. It is also vital that you meet the application deadline, and ideal if you can submit your application early – some companies close applications early if they receive a sufficient number of suitable applications. In most Colleges and Universities, there are employability departments who can assist with the application process.
- Follow Up
After the completing the application process, you should contact the company to make sure that the company received your application and that you sent everything that was needed. If you’ve submitted your application early (ideally a week before the deadline,) you will have plenty of time to get in contact with the company and make any adjustments based on their feedback. Don’t worry about irritating your prospective employers – a polite and respectful follow-up shows your motivation and perseverance and helps to hammer home your interest in the role. However, remember to respect their time when asking for feedback and be patient when waiting for their decision. Hiring new employees takes time, and they may be dealing with many applications.
- Interview Process
The interview process takes place after the application has been accepted. Remember that internships can pave way to the full-time employment, so you need to impress at the interview and take the position seriously at all stages of the process. Even if you fail to secure the opening you originally applied for, you may find yourself applying for different opportunities with the same employer in future, so the impression you create now may help you later. After the interview, you should send an email to thank the company for the interview and for considering you.
- Accepting the offer
When you are offered the role, it is crucial to communicate that you have been offered an internship or placement to other companies interviewed with, and to liaise with your new employer to find out what paperwork they need (such as tax forms or identification) and any other requirements they have before your start date. Preparing for your new position also includes arranging your commute, double-checking you have appropriate workwear, and making sure you have no conflicting commitments, in addition to fulfilling your employer’s requirements.
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