Spring ushers in internship season aside from full blooms. As we scramble to put ourselves together for the second semester, some of us also have internships to apply for. As a seasoned applicant who has secured internships two years in a row, I am here with the “Internship Insider” series to share some lesser-discussed tips that just might help you land an internship.
Part 1: Where Do I Go?
#1 Break Limitations
The first part of any internship application process is figuring out what industry and company you’d like to apply to. Though you might be studying a particular course, don’t limit yourself to applying for jobs only within that field.
For example, while I study Politics, Philosophy and Economics, I am not bound to only applying to internships that intersect with my disciplines; I am also free to apply to journalism openings. Similarly, if you are a law student, don’t box yourself into applying only to law firms; think bigger: most companies have a legal department that are also open for you to pursue!
#2 Talk To Seniors
If you are unsure what opportunities there are for you even after a quick trip to Google, why not talk to your seniors? Strike up a conversation with those who have pursued your course and have succeeded in attaining an internship or are already working a graduate role. Ask about what industries were available to them and understand their thought process in narrowing the options down.
Better yet, enquire about the best parts of their past internships or current role—you might just happen upon something you did not know to look for while hunting for an internship!
#3 Sharpen Current Or Grow New?
Before diving headfirst into applications, take a step back and assess your objectives. Why do you want an internship? Is it to hone the skills you already have or to harness new ones?
A good tip is to strike a balance between the two so there is something you can bring to the table while learning brand new abilities too. More often than not, firms will have a section in their job posting on what kind of candidates they are looking for and what is required of the successful candidates in the role. Make sure these details align with your personal objectives so you reap the full benefits from your internship.
#4 Career Service
If you’re still unsure of where to focus your application efforts on, don’t forget about the university’s Career Service!
Aside from tools such as a CV grading site, you can book a consultation with a career advisor to get a clearer picture of opportunities available to you. It’s important to note that career services are meant to facilitate your decision-making when it comes to your career path, not give you a definite recommendation. Ultimately, you should be the one to decide where your future lies.
Subscribing to Career Connect will also deliver regular emails to your inbox, where you would be notified of the latest job postings according to the filters and preferences you have set. These postings cover all kinds of firms and industries, giving you more options to consider!
Check out the university’s career service guide to get started.
#5 Beware Of Deadlines
It’s also crucial to be aware of application deadlines. Figuring out where you want to apply is a process that can be easily drawn out and you don’t want to risk too much time contemplating that you forget to actually send in an application.
Internship hiring periods are broken up according to seasons; the most popular summer internships typically begin accepting applications in fall or early winter, with the deadline in early spring. There are also companies that hire on a rolling basis, meaning they review applications as soon as they are received and may fill those positions before the deadline.
A good practice is to keep a list of all the deadlines and prioritise those hiring on a rolling basis to maximise your chance of securing a role.
Part 2: Gotta Track Them All
Now that you have a sense of which industry you’re interested in, you should also have an idea of the players in that industry. Cast a wide net and make a spreadsheet of firms you are interested in to keep track of your progress.
Here is an example of my own internship application tracker. Switch up the headings to suit your taste, though I would highly recommend including deadlines, status, and links to the application portal.
If there is a case where you are interested in a particular company but they don’t have job postings on their website, fret not! Note the company down anyway and find an email address you can contact—we will be sending cold call emails to introduce ourselves.
As you progress along your application process, consider adding more columns to your spreadsheet to accommodate for things like interview dates and corresponding links.
Part 3: Research
With the proliferation of AI and the advancement of technology, industries are shifting at a faster pace than ever. While it would be best to stay on top of every news story and analyse every morsel of data presented, this is likely impossible for the average student to achieve.
Nevertheless, staying on top of your field of interest should be a priority, and regularly skimming headline stories will prove to be helpful (especially when interviewers ask about it). To simplify things, subscribe to one or two news outlet that you enjoy reading and turn notifications on for them! Bonus points if they are non-partisan and report news from an unbiased standpoint.
Next up part two of my series Internship Insider #2: The Application Ace.