Internships are professional learning experiences that can help build career networks and contacts. Internships are usually aimed at undergraduate or graduate students, the position involves the intern working in an organization for a fixed period, usually three to six months, sometimes without pay, to gain work experience.
Typically, an undergraduate student taking a three-year degree will partake in a summer internship after their second year. When looking for an internship, it is important to make use of all available resources. There are many websites specifically dedicated to providing undergraduate students information about available internships. These websites can be easily found with a Google search, the websites also have filtering tools where you can narrow down the internship opportunities available with your personal interest.
Be strategic when applying for these internships, as they are usually three months long so it’s important you enjoy working at the company and will learn from the activities involved with your role there. Search for companies or job roles that will assist you in your career path. Also, make use of the careers department at the university to help find an internship and help with every stage of the application process.
Paid internships are ideal, although you don’t have your degree yet, your time, skills and knowledge gained so far at university is valuable. There are plenty of paid internships available, for a lot of these roles you will be involved with real work rather than just administrative tasks or running errands. If you can afford it, unpaid internships or volunteering can still be extremely beneficial experiences. You can get serious work experience, build a portfolio and establish a network of professional contacts which can help you after you graduate.
In a 2013 BBC article called ‘’Internships: The competitive world of work experience” by Lindsay Baker it was said that at the time competition had never been so fierce for internships. The article also included a quote by Pullin of milkround.com, a website specialising in opportunities for young people. He estimated that for the most popular sectors such as: IT, marketing, and business – there are at least 100 applicants per internship.
It goes without saying that these internship applications should be taken as serious as applying for a real job, like you will be doing once you graduate. It is therefore pivotal to do your research on the company, they want to know why you have chosen them and why they should choose you. It can be tempting to use the same generic answers for each application but taking the time out to learn more about the company and submitting a bespoke application specific to them will help you stand out.
“After carefully considering your responses, unfortunately on this occasion we will not be progressing your application.”
Some of us are familiar with the dreaded automated message above, finding out all out time and effort have been to no avail. The average student goes through several different applications before they are successful. These applications are extremely lengthy and can be quite tedious. It can also be discouraging when you have passed through many of the application stages but fail to pass the final stage, it’s a case of so close, yet so far. The optimistic way to look at these unsuccessful applications is that they are good experience that you can learn from for the next application, so don’t give up.
Some companies do not give feedback for on an unsuccessful application, especially in the initial stages, in this case do not hesitate to contact them and request feedback, doesn’t hurt to try. Most companies however provide feedback for applicants who become unsuccessful after the online ability tests/assessment tests stage, for example a Numerical Reasoning Test Feedback Report, which may tell you your score on the test and some actions to improve in the future. They can also send you a Candidate Feedback Report which will include your strengths and weaknesses in each test. It can be useful to the read this feedback and if you agree with their criticism, work on a plan to improve your performance on these tests.
Also, note that companies have numerous opportunities for undergraduate students so if you weren’t successful in a programme, maybe there’s another one that you’re better suited for. Good luck on the applications!