Applying for an internship can feel quite daunting, especially if you don’t have much experience applying for jobs.
You may worry about having a lack of valuable work experience or maybe you’re unsure of what to include in your CV/resume or application.
The truth is that the process isn’t as scary as it may seem; all you need to do is break it up into more manageable chunks. Here are the key steps you need to take to successfully apply for an internship:
1. Understand the process
The better you understand the application process, the more prepared you will be and the more confident you will feel. Most companies will ask you to fill in an application form or send a CV and cover letter. Once you make it through the initial round of assessment, you will likely face an interview.
Many bigger companies share information about their application processes online, so if you already know which employers you’re interested in, it’s worth checking their website for details. You could also send a quick email to their HR department. When applying, carefully read the employer’s instructions and make sure to keep track of application deadlines.
2. Do your research
To write a great application you need to have a good understanding of what the employer is looking for in their ideal candidate. Take your time to read through the job advert, noting the key skills, personal attributes and experience they’re looking for.
The employer will also expect you to have done your research on the company and industry as a whole, so make sure you come prepared. Read industry publications, check the company’s website and social media pages for the latest news or even better, speak to people in the company or industry if you can, by connecting via LinkedIn, for example.
3. Take time to reflect
Now that you understand what the employer is looking for, consider what you have to offer. Think about your strengths, i.e. what you’re naturally good at, and the transferable skills you have, such as communication, teamwork and leadership skills, that would make you a good fit for the role. You may have been able to develop these as part of your studies, extracurricular activities or by doing volunteering, for example.
Don’t worry if you lack concrete work experience as employers will understand that this may be one of the first steps in your career. However, they do want to see that you recognise the importance of those strengths and transferable skills you have developed so far and are able to successfully evidence them.
4. Create a great CV
Employers usually ask for a CV so even as a student, it is a must. It should be a concise document highlighting your most relevant skills and achievements. Aside from your contact details, education history and any work experience you may have, you could also include relevant interests. Making sure your CV is up-to-date before applying is key. It’s always a good idea to let someone else check your CV before you send it off, or, if you need some more support in writing it, reach out to your university careers service.
5. Tailor your application
Sending the same standard CV to every employer won’t help you stand out: you have to tailor it to each role you apply for. This means making sure you are highlighting the most pertinent skills and experience for that position. Hiring managers will look for certain key words in your application, so keep in mind the language they use in the job advert and mirror it in your CV, cover letter or application form.
Applying for an internship may feel like a big step, but instead of worrying about the experience you don’t have, focus on your natural abilities and personal strengths, your motivations and goals and your enthusiasm for the role you’re applying for. These are the things that will truly impress a hiring manager.