For many, the thought of internships may conjure up images of an overbearing boss and a long hours spent pulling all-nighters.
But the concept behind an internship isn’t as bad as you might think. An internship is essentially a trial period between university and a future job, during which you get paid to gain valuable experience and build your professional network.
In return for your labour, your boss might throw you an intern party, give you premium beer, or – in one famously generous case – pay for your entire university education.
For those looking for adventure or wanting to supplement their income during university, an internship can seem like a fantastic opportunity. But if you want to go the extra mile and turn your internship into a selling point, you need to shift the way you think about the role. Instead of seeing it as a burden, turn it into a real advantage.
Here are some top tips on how to market your internship in a way that impresses employers and land you that all-important first job.
Network Building Is Key
If you follow the advice of most career websites and simply head to the website to look for jobs, you’ll soon be overwhelmed by the number of options. Instead, network building is essential if you want to stand out from the crowd. The more you connect with potential employers, the more likely they are to discover your unique skills and talents – and offer you an intern place on their staff. You never know what opportunities might arise from a simple act of kindness.
Be Ready To Take Initiative
An internship is typically a part of your university studies, so it’s natural for you to be keen to dive straight in and start contributing to the company. Bear in mind, though, that your contribution might not always be rewarded with positive feedback. Don’t expect praise for every little piece of work; you’re there to learn, so be ready to take initiative and prove yourself.
Develop Your Expertise
To maximise your employability, develop your expertise in a specific area relevant to your internship. This could be anything from copywriting to graphic design, software programming or social media marketing. The more you know in your chosen field, the more valuable you’ll be to employers. The more employers you show an interest in, the more likely you’ll be to get called in for an interview. And with more interviews, comes more opportunities. With every passing year, the labour market becomes increasingly competitive, which makes gaining experience all the more important.
Research The Market Potential
Once you’ve developed your expertise, it’s time to look for a relevant job market. Start by doing some research on your chosen field. What’s the current state of play? Browse through job listings and explore what employers are currently looking for. The more you know about the job market, the more effective you’ll be in your search for the perfect internship. Developing a clear picture of the job market will also serve as a great guide for your contribution to the company. Remember: your contribution might not always be noticed, so make sure you seek out praise and recognition where you can. And don’t forget to look for internships that offer on-the-job training.
Create An Online Portfolio
An internship is often accompanied by some sort of practical assignment. This can be anything from copywriting to graphic design, to programming or marketing. At the end of your internship, you will have a portfolio of your work. An excellent way to make sure you stand out from the crowd is to develop an online portfolio. The days of attaching thousands of CVs are over. Screening managers and senior executives through impersonal PDFs are no longer considered a reliable means of finding skilled employees. An entire digital portfolio, complete with examples of your work and a resume, will give you the competitive edge you need.
Get Signed Up To Email Alerts
Unsurprisingly, the best way to get all the latest news and updates is through social media. The most prominent platform is undoubtedly Twitter. But even before you get to grips with Twitter, you can sign up to receive email alerts from the companies that you connect with on social media. For example, on Facebook, you can sign up to receive email alerts when a new article is published on the page. Similarly, on blogs, you can sign up to receive email alerts when a new post is published. Make sure you sign up for as many email alerts as possible to maximise your chances of being picked up by an employer. Your email alerts will also act as your digital pigeon cage, making it simple for potential employers to reach out to you.
Practice Interview Skills
An inevitable part of getting a job is being expected to interview for the role. You’ll have to sit down with the hiring manager or senior exec and be grilled on your knowledge of the industry and how you’ll fit into the company. During these interviews, you will have to display certain interview skills. To get the most out of these interviews, prepare for them by practicing with friends or colleagues. You might want to set up a mock interview for practice, asking friends and family to critique your performance as you go. With a little bit of preparation, you’ll be able to walk into those interviews and prove to the world that you’re precisely what the company needs to round out their staff.
Improve Your English
Even if you’re a born writer, spelling and grammar don’t come naturally to you. But the language barrier might be one of the things that holds you back from getting a job. If you’re uncomfortable enough with the English language to feel as if you need help, then it’s time to seek out professional English tutoring. There are many services available online, and with the right guidance, you might just overcome your fear of the English language and be able to spell and punctuate exactly how a native speaker would. Better yet, you might one day even be able to write a simple letter without needing someone else’s help. Wouldn’t that be something?
An intern is often seen as a spare part, something that can be added to a team to make it go more smoothly. But what if we see the intern as a valuable asset, a chance to make valuable connections and learn new skills? If you can make the most of your time at university and turn it into a profitable venture, why wouldn’t you?