An internship is an opportunity to gain valuable experience in the field of your choice or the field of professional courses before you enter the usual workforce. It aligns your interests and professional qualifications with your career goals and enables you to develop the skills required to succeed in your desired field.
In this post, we will talk about the importance of internships and share some tips to help you find the right internship for you.
Why is an internship an important step in your career?
Internships allow students and young professionals to gain work experience in the field of their choice. When you enter a new job, industry or the workforce, a relevant internship experience on your resume can increase your chances of getting selected for the job you applied for. You learn valuable hard and soft skills while on an internship to enhance your professional value and it also helps you develop your career further. Moreover, you will also learn skills to interact with professionals in your industry and will also build a professional network that will be an added advantage as you grow to make a successful career.
Tips that will help you find an internship
1. Set your career goals
This is very important and one that will help you focus on your career path. Try to find out your interest areas and think about the field in which you want to start your career in. Before you start searching for internship options, it is important to understand what exactly you want. If you already have a specific job option and career goal in mind, start looking for an internship in that industry and role. You will develop hands-on experience as an intern and will also learn skills necessary for your desired profession.
However, if you have yet to decide in which field you should start your internship, think about the areas that interest you. Internships give you an opportunity to evaluate a variety of occupations to help you decide what suits you best. So, after you have figured out what you want to do, you can focus on the companies where you will find your choice of work.
2. Create your list of requirements
Unless you know the requirements that meet your needs, you will not be able to set a career goal. Therefore, start finding your internship opportunities and create a list of your requirements to understand if your opportunities are meeting your needs. Like, if you are not comfortable with an unpaid internship, you might be successful in finding a part-time opportunity.
You should also consider factors like the project objective and expectations; the type of role given to you; if the work interests you; and if there is a prospect of growth in it.
Also, be aware that, whatever the size of your internship company, small or big, you will benefit from both. While you will receive hands-on experience in a small company, you will get more defined roles and tasks in a big one.
3. Start your search early
Starting early is a way to stay ahead in a competition. In many places, internships are competitive or there are limited positions. So, you will need to start searching and applying soon after you know about internship openings available in the industry of your liking. Some companies and industries have deadlines for internship programmes. If you do not keep yourself updated and search early, you may miss them. For example, for summer internships, candidates are expected to apply six months ahead.
If you apply early, you will have more time to think about options and it will also give an impression to companies that you are proactive.
4. Reach out to companies you are interested in
If you are aware of your interests and also know where you want to work, find out if they have an internship programme in which you can apply. Also, you can send an email to the concerned department along with your resume and explain in it why you want to intern with them.
Do not forget to highlight your achievements so far and your eagerness to join the company and how you can be a great resource in supporting their objectives. This initiative will show your willingness to work and will also impress your prospective employers.
5. Search online
Searching online is another option as you will filter your search by industry, location, time of the year and job title. Use local search engines for this as it will give you results based on your location. Moreover, searching online will make your search for internship options much easier.
6. Use your school or local career services
Colleges too have career centres to provide guidance to students looking for internship opportunities. So, if your college has it, you can take their assistance. Many times, schools work in association with companies and alumni with an aim to help students in their career building. These centres also help find internship options and contacts that can be very useful for students.
Also, if you are no longer a student and seeking internship opportunities, you can reach out to local career centres for help. They can not only connect you to available internships but also provide you with career counselling and guidance that best matches your qualifications, requirements and expectations. The local career centres are a great place to prepare for the application process and perform mock interviews.
7. Attend job events and fairs
Career-related events and fairs are a great way to find out about opportunities available in the local job market. Attending these events allows you a chance to network with people in your choice of industry and also meet potential employers. Prepare yourself for the event properly so that you can present yourself and grab the attention of your potential employers. You can prepare an impressive brief introduction of yourself to highlight your skills and how you can add value to an organisation as an intern. Take multiple copies of your resume when you attend job fairs, you will need them. When you are at a job fair, you can meet and talk with company representatives in person. It will help you understand whether the company is suitable for you or not.
8. Reach out to your network
This is another very potential option to find an internship. You can contact people in your network: professors, mentors, friends, seniors, and people in your locality with whom you are friendly. So, all your professional, educational and personal networks will be a great resource for you to find an internship in your desired industry. Talk to them and find out if they would be willing to discuss your career goals with you. If you build and maintain these relationships, these can be of great help in connecting you with relevant internship opportunities. You can also ask for a referral if you are applying for any company and you know somebody whose reference can increase your chances.
However, if your network cannot help you find an internship opportunity, their tips and advice will be a valuable addition to determining your career path or which skills you need to acquire to achieve a particular career goal.
9. Make optimum use of social media
Most companies today have a social media presence across platforms. LinkedIn is a leading social media platform for professionals, which you can use to reach out to companies and employers. However, all social media platforms can be a great medium to connect with people. You can follow the companies dealing in products and services you find interesting for your career. Companies post upcoming internship opportunities too from time to time.
On LinkedIn, you will find people in your network sharing internship opportunities or some are seeking candidates for part-time work. The social media presence of companies can also give you the feel of the company’s work culture, which may help you decide. Moreover, you can engage with the social media accounts of companies, but make sure you are completely professional in your communication and interaction with people.
All of the above tips can be of great help when you go searching for internship opportunities. If you are proactive and determined, nobody can stop you from finding your goals.