It’s a virtual given these days that employers are looking for much more than a good degree result. They are also looking for relevant real world experience as this helps them to identify those applicants most likely to succeed. The best way to demonstrate this is by having a relevant internship under your belt.
"...if you really want to stand out, internships are essential..."
You will hugely increase your graduate job application prospects if you have completed a relevant student internship. I’d go as far as to say that if you really want to stand out as a graduate applicant, internships are essential these days.
How do you find an internship? Use a combination of the approaches below and you will be off to a head start:
Talk to your university careers advisory department
Your University will have a graduate advisory service. They often have good relationships with local employers who attend their career fairs and offer a specific number of internships to their undergraduates. These will be proven and established programs that should be at the top of your internship prospects list.
Use a reputable online search service
GradConnection is a free platform that lets you choose exactly what industry opportunities you want to hear about, and delivers them straight to your inbox. You can research the companies on the site, talk to other graduates in the forums, and be found by employers viewing your GradConnection student profile.
Attend local career fairs
Career Fairs are held several times a year in every city. These are produced by different organisations. Find out when and where they are through your Career Centre or the local Chamber of Commerce. Diary note and schedule time to attend them all. These are invaluable tools to help you build an understanding of who is in the graduate placement market and so who might offer internships.
Access your relevant professional association
Nearly every profession has a recognised professional body. Many of these offer student membership which is itself a useful thing to consider. Consult with your tutors or career advisors on which association would be the best to join as a student member. An association may have a list of those member organisations that offer internship openings or be able to advise you on who might be open to a speculative approach.
...and last but not least
Don’t forget to ask family and friends for leads. It’s often personal networking that yields great results.
The application process
Once you have targeted some potential internships, you need to prime yourself for the application process. This is likely to include:
- An online application form
- Submission of a resume (and maybe a cover letter)
- Online aptitude and psychometric tests
- Initial screening interviews - maybe via video call or telephone
Bear in mind that applications for internships are very competitive, so you need to put some serious effort in to them. See our Internship Applications article for more tips.
If you get through the application process, you may find yourself invited to an assessment centre. See our Assessment Centres article for more tips.