If you haven’t realized it yet, doing an internship is a fantastic way to spend the semester break to gain exposure, experience, and make the most out of your student life.
But if you think that it’s a waste of time and you’d rather stay home, play games, and ruin your sleep cycle, think again.
You’re missing out
The prospect of working may be uninteresting or scary especially for students and/or fresh grads with little to no experience, but trust me when I say it’s worth it. In part 1 of our internship series, we will cover the reasons why you need to take an internship and how to land one.
Why should I get an internship?
1. Fill up your resume
Most fresh grads struggle to fill their resume beyond half a page. It’s empty. There is nothing to write there expect for your degree and (hopefully) several extracurricular activities of note. Surely there must be something you can do to fill up your resume?
Get an internship. For one, it lets you write an “Experience” section in your resume which is already a huge boost to your job hunting efforts later. Especially since employers today care more about what you can do than what grades you got, doing an internship is a way to stand out among other job seekers.
2. Meet cool people
Sometimes it’s not what you know, but who you know. Doing an internship expands your network, and networking opens so many doors to opportunities, be it a job, an idea, a business partner, new friends, and much more.
At the very least, taking an internship lets you fill the “References” section in your resume with your manager or co-worker who have experienced working with you firsthand. Of course, you can do this only if you get to know them - more on that later.
3. Get money
The sweet thing about internships is that you usually get paid. What better way to spend the summer break than get experience and get money? If you’re just looking for cash, a simple part-time job as a barista or something would do. But if you want to gain knowledge, experience, and exposure on the side, an internship is the way to go.
That said, there are also plenty of unpaid internships. Most of the time, experience and network is enough to justify the lack of payment, but it’s important to be wise and see if it’s worth it, or to wait for a paid internship opportunity instead.
4. Get out of your comfort zone
You have no idea about working in an office and suddenly you’re given a desk, a laptop, and a task to do. Nobody will hold your hand and you’re on your own. It’s scary and it makes sitting at home playing games look much more desirable.
“It’s like gym or vegetables.”
But getting out of your comfort zone is exactly why you should take an internship. Sooner or later, you will come to the working life and you’ll have to adjust yourself anyway. It’s like gym or vegetables. Better to bite the bullet now and make starting your first job easier later when you already know all the ropes.
How can I get an internship?
1. Apply early
Companies, especially huge companies, really take their time in processing applications. The worst of them can take more than a month just to advance applicants to the next interview stage.
Realizing this, employers usually look for internships as early as 8 months before the intake date. If you want an internship by the end of the semester, you can already start applying by the start of the semester. Also, if you apply early, you won’t have to worry about application deadlines.
2. Apply a lot
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. A wise quote that can be applied to investing, buying eggs, and applying for internships. Just because you found an internship opening in a good company with good pay doesn’t mean you should apply for that one only - there’s no guarantee you’ll get it.
“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”
Internships are competitive. There are probably dozens of other people applying for the position that you want. Take the time to apply to a lot of internship opportunities that you see fit. Don’t just blindly send applications and waste time, though. Apply to the openings that is relevant to your degree and feels plausible (i.e. not on the other side of the globe).
Do this, then follow up a week after applying if there’s no reply. If there’s still no reply, then at least you tried. But with the volume of applications you’ve sent, there’s a bigger chance of hearing something back.
3. Go to the careers office
Most universities have a dedicated careers office. These are the guys responsible for spamming you with job/internship offers, inviting companies for career fairs on campus, and other things to help students find employment. Swing by and let them know you’re looking for an internship. They might even help you find one that fills your preferences.
4. Talk with your professors
To fill in the references in your resume before getting an internship, ask one of your professors. Of course, they should be someone who knows you fairly well and you should perform fairly well in their class. That’s the proper setting to ask their permission to be your reference.
Your professors may also provide the path to internships or its alternatives. Maybe they know someone in a company, or they have their own projects and could use your help. It could be like an apprenticeship in the olden days.
5. Go to career fairs
Your university’s careers office might have organized career fairs on-campus, so what else are you waiting for? If not, you can still come to the career fairs outside of your university. It’s a golden opportunity to talk directly to recruiters learn about their company, as well as introducing yourself in person.
If you haven’t already, check out our post on how to succeed in career fairs.
6. Professionalize your online presence
Your online presence is just as profound as how you dress for the interview. A professional LinkedIn profile and online portfolio is like a sharp suit and tie, and a profile with no picture and full of typos is like coming late to the interview.
In applying for internships, full-time jobs, and professional endeavors in general, keeping your online presence sharp is the wise thing to do.
7. Customize your resume
When you’re fitting out your resume, make sure you put a touch of personalization to it before you apply. It can be challenging especially if you’re applying to a bunch of opportunities, but tailoring your resume to fit the job description is worth the time.
It’s as simple as using the job description to help your application. If they’re looking for finance skills, put in your grades in that subject and leave out marketing. Specialization helps your resume focus on a specific strength most relevant to the internship position.
8. Prep yourself for the interview
Once your efforts in sending applications bear fruit in the form of interview invitations, make sure you’re ready for it. If you’re a student, chances are this would be your first interview ever. The interviewers probably knows this too, but that’s no reason to slack off and wing it. So get a friend and practice together.
This first part covered the tips and guide on how to successfully land an internship gig, this is just half of the battle. Tune in on the second part to learn how you can make the most out of (and survive) your internship.