When studying at university or after you have recently graduated, you might be looking for an internship. It’s a great way to gain work experience and show future employers that you already have some basic skills in your field of interest. However, finding an internship is difficult when you don’t know where to start. That’s why we are sharing 9 things to know before starting an internship.
1. What is an internship?
An internship is the position filled by a student or trainee who works within an organisation in order to gain valuable work experience. So, a little less Vince Vaughn quoting cheesy 80s lines at Google. For many students an internship gives you the exposure you need in the working environment. Experience is becoming a crucial factor for employers when deciding who gets the golden ticket (A job) these days. In today’s work environment it’s strongly advised that students and graduates seek these opportunities and complete a period of work experience. Internships can vary, but usually last from 1 week to over 12 months. An Internship is usually paid or voluntary. It’s important to do some research prior to the internship on your rights regarding pay.
2. Interning abroad
There is an exciting opportunity to interning… Interning abroad! For those who decide to intern abroad it is a great way to embrace yourself in a countries culture, for others it is an opportunity to learn something new! Internships abroad are becoming more accessible with organisations setting up accomodations, airfare, and even other necessities you will need before boarding the plane. Every program is different so be sure to check what services are offered to you.
3. How to pick an internship?
Picking an internship can be difficult. Between finding companies that offer internships or reaching out to an employer you would like to work for. But when striving towards future career goals, choosing the right internship is just as important as completing one. Before accepting an internship, you should consider a few things;
- Sector – What is your target after graduation? Private? Public? Your goal should be to pursue an internship that will provide you with experience and insights into what you consider might be your future sector.
- Location – Are you seeking an internship in a big city or maybe closer to home in the countryside. By pursuing an internship in your target location, you will be more familiar with various things such as; the cost of living in that area, the pace and standard of life and livability of the city. For instance, you may wish to work in London after graduation. An internship will help provide you with the knowledge and understanding as to whether the big city is for you!
- Experience gained – After graduation whether you are seeking graduate employment or perhaps opening your own business an internship will provide you with invaluable experience. From working with other colleagues on projects, to learning new sides to the operations of a business. It’s important to choose an internship provider that will provide you with the experience you desire.
4. What should you bring on your first day as an intern?
The first day of an internship is a nerve racking experience. This is completely normal!! Despite your first day nerves, it’s important that you make a good first impression by;
- Dress the part – First impressions count, A LOT!!! So it’s important that you dress the part. Do your research prior to your start date so you should know the dress code. You’ll feel miserable on your first day if you show up in a suit and everyone is wearing business casual.. Trust us!
- Research – Never underestimate the importance of research. Before starting your internship do your homework and make sure you know your bosses name and who you will be working with. If you are interning in a big company it will be useful to know where you will be based within the company… So do your research before your first day.
- Be prepared – Be sure that on your first day you bring a bag or briefcase with some necessities. Nothing as bad as showing up to your first day interning without a pen and paper at least. Which is why we have created a checklist for interns starting their first day;
- A notebook – take notes when you can and record all you are experiencing and what you are learning.
- A pen – it’s always good to have one.
- A snack – incase your stomach can’t wait until lunch and start talking to you during the day a snack or two might help that.
- Ensure you have brought all documents or utensils your employer has requested you bring for your first day – nothing as bad as already making a mistake before even starting your internship.
- Ask questions – You have taken an internship on to learn new things, not sit behind a desk crying because you don’t know how to turn your computer monitor on (there are people out there that struggle with smart tech). On your first day you are not expected to know everything (but maybe turning your computer monitor on without having to call IT). Make sure you ask insightful questions that helps your development in your job and your learning. You might think you are coming across as annoying (and you probably are) but you aren’t. As an intern asking questions shows you are eager and willing to learn. The more questions you ask, the less likely it is you will do something wrong.
5. How to display/describe your internship on your CV?
If you are planning on doing an internship or have just completed an internship it is vitally important you display this experience on your CV. After structuring your CV, under the title ‘employment experience’ include:
- The company name
- Your internship job title,
- The location of your internship
- The start and end date.
It’s important that you write two to three sentences, best in the form of bullet points, describing your role and its responsibilities.
6. Are internships worth the effort?
YES! Getting jobs is not competitive…. if you don’t let it be. For many university students there is a growing trend that if it doesn’t pay, then it is not worth my time or effort. Having this assertion means you believe that the internships responsibilities are very low skilled and that you will not benefit from undertaking the internship. If you believe this, this is not true! Internships are a valuable asset to one’s academic and professional career. Why?
- You earn Employer Credit. Okay this isn’t a real thing, but its useful to understand that employers you have interned for previously will be interested in your services after your graduation from university. Employer credit watch that interest rise.
- For the work experience. Knowledge and experience is what allows you to stand out. This may seem like an overly noble reason, but employers really appreciate seeing a job candidate with an internship on their CV. Makes you seem interesting especially if that internship was as a lion tamer or something a little more low key like a beekeeper!
- Networking! Students often say they don’t know how to network. That’s because students are surrounded by other students in their university lives. When undertaking an internship you are networking without even realising it. You improve upon your people skills and how to act professionally when exposed to a working environment through an internship. Best to make your mistakes at an intern level and learn from them!
7. What to do if you cannot find what you are looking for?
First of all, obviously sign up to Magnet.me…
But second of all, do not panic, ok? In the unlikely event that all your friends find an internship before you, take a deep breath and keep calm. Why? Because the internship that suits you the best is the foundation of your whole career. You don’t want to rush that. Take your time and explore all your possibilities, think twice, practice on those interviews, ask questions, as for feedback, do case studies where possible. Just look at every attempt as a golden opportunity to get better and a step closer to the real thing.
8. Should you look for a big or a small company to intern for?
Obviously, depends on you have any desires regarding that question yourself. But if you don’t there are several things to think about. Questions like:
- Will you function well in a corporate environment with more restrictions and more people to go through before a decision is made?
- Or will you function better with more freedom and a bit of chaos, maybe a smaller amount of colleagues?
- Are you ready to have that freedom or do you want more guidance in your first internship?
- Would you like to start something of your own one day or do you want to help bigger companies with no strings attached?
- Would you like it to be B2B or B2C?
Are highly relevant. Keep in mind that your first internship may not be detrimental but does play a role to some extent in which path your career takes you. If you start interning in a big shipping company, the internship will most probably be focused on B2B efforts. It is good to keep that in mind, in case it doesn’t turn out to be ‘your thing’ so that you can switch to B2C oriented business on time.
Plus, doing an internship in a big company can open a lot of doors. However, the competition to get in is quite high so you need to prepare well for your application and interviews. Whereas, the other way around is not always true – if you do an internship in a small startup or scale-up and wish to switch to consultancy, for example, it might be harder to get in.
9. How do I get an internship?
Getting an internship doesn’t have to be hard work. An internship should be an extension to your university studies. Learning new skills, meeting new people and developing your knowledge and understanding in the workplace. Here at Magnet.me we try to make the process of getting an internship as easy as 1,2,3. To prove that follow these simple steps and start connecting with companies you want to intern with:
- Sign up to Magnet.me
- Create an awesome Magnet.me profile that stands out to recruiters!
- Start liking opportunities on Magnet.me