I have recently secured a creative writing internship, which starts in early July. When I left university I was against internships because I believed them to be legal slavery. I mean what idiot would want to work full time for little or no pay. Then I fell into the real world and realised that all the jobs I was applying for was asking for experience. I have spent three years at university, yet I am not actually qualified to do anything. The reality is that many of us will have to do some kind of internship, so that we can get the jobs that we want. In recent years, the media have exposed the terrible internship practices within many companies and things have started to improve. So if you want to improve your job/career prospect keep reading.
Do your research
This may seem an obvious one, but you would be surprised at how many people don’t even know what field they want to work in. In order for the internship to be beneficial, it must be in your chosen field. If you don’t know what your interested in, then make a list of the things that you are good at. It doesn’t have to be related to your degree or any subject you have studied before. For example my ideal job would be in a publishing company. This kind of job would suit me because I could combine my two passions- reading and writing- while getting paid. The first thing I did was research smaller publishing companies, as they won’t have as many applicants. I couldn’t find an internship in a publishing company, so looked for some writing experience instead. This will look good on my CV when I apply for an editorial assistant job- The first step into the publishing world. Try and be creative. Even if you can’t get an internship in your chosen field, look for a close alternative. This internship will give you useful transferable skills- valuable work experience.
It’s who you know
They say its who you know, not what you know and that is really true. You hear about those people who get jobs with the help of family and friends. I know that sounds so easy but sometimes it is. If your know someone who works in the field that you would like to get into, ask them if they could set up an internship for you. Some companies don’t offer it, but if they have space they are likely to consider it. If you manage to get a placement through someone you know, you are ahead of the game. You have beat hundreds, possibly thousands of people who are still looking. Don’t be afraid to stretch your contacts. Ask your parents if they know anyone in your chosen field. You might just get lucky.
I made the mistake of going in person to ask for an internship. This is very awkward as it felt like I was begging for a job. If that wasn’t embarrassing enough, the receptionist didn’t even look remotely interested in what I was saying. She probably threw my CV in the bin after I left. I know you may feel quirky and original going to ask for an internship in person, but most people are going to think your weird or that you don’t own a computer. When answering the online application form, try and make your answers interesting and original. You need to show that you meet the basic requirements, while still emphasising your need to develop and learn new skills. When applying online you are at a disadvantage, as you are in competition with lots of other people. Unfortunately that’s what it’s like when your applying for jobs. Don’t let one rejection put you off. Keep trying.
Phone and Beg
It may be embarrassing begging in person, but its much more dignified over the phone. Phone numbers can often be found on the company website. You will usually reach a switch board and you tell the operator which department you would like to speak to. The best time to phone is in the morning, at the start of the working day. As the day progresses people become tired and are more likely to be unhelpful. While on the phone clearly introduce yourself and say that your looking for an internship. You should give a specific time period e.g two weeks, as this makes you look professional and less desperate. All the eager graduates will be giving unlimited availability, which makes them look vulnerable and willing to take anything. Finally before you get off the phone ask for the person’s name and email address. Although most people say they will contact you, they often forget. Sending a polite reminder email will show determination, and you may land that internship.
Further information and useful websites
www.witlr.com A website offering internships and placements for graduates. After filling out an application form, top employers can search for you.
www.inspiringinterns.com Another internship website, which claims 65% of their interns get permanent jobs
www.internwise.co.uk This website counts Amazon and Nike as one of their recruiters. This site is a personal favourite of mine because of it’s simple layout. It also allows users to choose between paid and unpaid internships.
careers.guardian.co.uk/internships The Guardian website is a valuable source of information for most things, so check it frequently for jobs aswell. This link leads to some interesting articles around the internship debates.