There days it is almost impossible to get any work without having had previous experience. The sooner you embark upon your journey into the world, the more experience you’ll have when you do – inevitably – find yourself in the market for a job. Completing an internship may also help reinforce the knowledge you acquire when you do start university as you’ll have a greater understanding of the day-to-day routine of your chosen sector.
Yet with so many sixth formers and undergraduates looking for work experience, how do you find the right internship opportunity? How on earth do you ensure that your application is taken seriously?
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1) Be Realistic
We’re not trying to pour cold water on your aspirations, but if your applying for your first internship, then you’re going to need to be a little bit realistic about the type of company that will take you under their wing. Looking to be a fashion designer? That’s great, but unless you’ve got parents with connections (and money) your first internship isn’t going to be working at Channel or Dior. The same applies across a wide range of sectors, from journalism and graphic design to finance and law.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you won’t get there eventually, but most individuals wanting a lucrative career will probably have to complete a number of internships - working their way up from smaller, more local companies to those with a more prestigious reputation.
There will also be fewer people applying to lesser known, smaller companies, so statistically the odds are very much stacked in your favour!
2) Jazz up the CV
The most conventional way of securing an internship is to email the senior figures within the firm in order to get their attention and explain why you would be perfect for any internship opportunities available. Unfortunately this means that on a daily basis, your potential bosses (or their long-suffering assistants) may have to read through a huge number of CVs. As well as ensuring your grammar and spelling is accurate and concise, you should also do something that is particularly memorable – and jazz up your CV.
In doing this, you can use your CV as a physical representation of your skill set. If you’re looking to pursue a career in advertising, then why not attach a home-made Youtube advertisement with your CV? Is web design more your specialism? Then design your own website. If you’re an aspiring journalist, why not write your CV in magazine format? It is the unique CVs that demonstrate your innovative and fresh approach towards work that will make a company desperate to have you working in their offices.
3) Social Media
Twitter isn’t just for reading hilariously catty tweets from celebrities (although we won’t judge you for checking out the Amanda Bynes twitter page) but it can also be useful if you are looking for internship opportunities. These days, most companies will have a social media account and often they will tweet, or even Facebook, any potential opportunities available - from summer internships to mentoring programmes for young people.
If you’re particularly social media-savvy, then why not engage in direct dialogue within these companies. Twitter is an amazing platform to ask insightful questions, whereas business networks such as LinkedIn will allow you to send direct messages to industry experts. Of course, you should always behave with professionalism – but the more you engage with your contact, the more likely it is that they’ll give you some work. Who knows, they might even pay you.
Now we’re not talking about stalking in the bunny-boiling Fatal Attraction kind of way. That would just be weird. Still, a little bit of persistence goes a long long way. Initially, you should apply using the conventional route – an email to HR or the manager – but if a week goes by and you receive no response, chase it up.
Ring the company and establish contact via telephone. Human resources will receive a number of speculative emails, but very few people will follow this up in a more personal manner. This will not only show that you are dedicated and eager, but will also show that you are able to show some initiative.
If you’re not 100% sure about having your CV clog up some-one’s inbox, then why not print out a hard copy and head on down to their offices so you can hand it over directly?
5) Outside the Box Thinking
It is a tough world out there and even the intern sector is over-flooded with undergrads and sixth-formers looking to experience day-to-day working life. If you’re getting desperate – or even if you just fancy doing things a little differently – then why not push the boat out and take advice from some of the world’s most creative job hunters?
From Adam Paciti who advertised himself on a billboard to David Rowe who walked the streets advertising himself on a sandwich board, there are a number of ways to gain the attention of prospective employers. One graduate even hacked into Facebook and changed the layout of the site, so that it looked like MySpace (remember them?). Facebook were so impressed that they gave him a job!