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“I haven’t done an internship… Do I stand a chance of getting a grad job?”

Internships can be a great way to get more work experience. The only problem? Interesting, paid opportunities can sometimes feel few and far between. 

The good news is that more employers than ever before are making their hiring decisions based on future potential, rather than focusing solely on past experience. 

Here are the two biggest advantages that internships can provide, followed by specific examples of how graduates can show these advantages even without an internship: 

Key requirement: Demonstrate knowledge and commitment to the career and industry

  • Read both formal and informal channels discussing your industry. Corporate websites, blogs, social media – find ways to consume news that works for you.
  • Engage in conversations online or in person with others with similar aspirations. Form opinions and views on the commercial context around your industry.
  • Meet as many people as you can from your chosen industry. Attend careers fairs, presentations, online chats and webinars to get to know employees’ opinions about the challenges and opportunities in your chosen industry.
  • Reflect on what you find interesting from all of the above. Be sure to acknowledge what specifically you find interesting about what you learn. Thus, you can make your reasons personal to you. 

Key requirement: Provide strong competency examples, either on an application form or during an interview

  • Everyday, non-industry specific work experience is a great way of demonstrating transferable skills that employers look for. You can learn a lot about dealing with difficult customers or managing multiple priorities working as a waiter or waitress in a busy restaurant. 
  • As well as developing the skills, you need to be able to articulate how your experience has enabled you to develop the competencies the firm is looking for. Practice talking aloud about how your experience has developed you as a person, and what skills you have gained from it.  
  • As well as non-industry work experience, reflect on how volunteering or leading a university society will contribute to your ability to become an effective future hire.

Hannah Salton worked in corporate HR and recruitment for 8 years, most recently looking after graduate recruitment for global law firm Allen & Overy. In 2017 she made the move to become a career coach and consultant. Now she helps graduates and young professionals get more from their own careers. 

For more information visit or request a free 20-minute career consultation by connecting with her on LinkedIn.