With summer fast approaching, now is a good time to start thinking about looking for an internship. Gaining that all-important experience and getting a foot in the door will certainly boost your career prospects, ready for when your studies have finished.
Getting an internship isn’t always easy, especially in the creative sector; here, we have five simple steps you can follow in order to increase your chances of securing experience at a company in your chosen sector.
1. Target your CV for each application
There’s no denying that tailoring your CV (and covering letter) to each role you apply for can be tedious and time consuming. It may even feel as though it won’t make any difference, but the truth is, it will.
It’s important to research the company you’re applying to – it’ll help you find out what traits they look for in an employee, and what their expectations might be. If there are any specific skills or qualities they mention, you can make sure that your CV and covering letter highlight these.
While it’s quite common to compliment the company, remember this isn’t necessary. Instead, you could mention why you want to work for them, avoiding excess flattery, or talk about what you hope to gain from an internship.
2. Expand your online presence
With every passing year, your online presence plays an increasingly important part not only in your job search, but in securing a role, too. Employers are turning to LinkedIn rather than studying CVs, and it’s highly likely that you’ll be expected to email across an online portfolio.
There are thousands of online platforms these days, but it’s best to stick to the most popular ones for employment purposes. If you tweet, keep it relevant to the industry you want to work in (although don’t completely erase your personality from your profile). Interaction will help you get noticed in your sector, as will linking a blog to your Twitter page.
Make sure your LinkedIn is kept up-to-date, too. If you don’t have any previous work experience, talk about what you’ve accomplished during your studies, highlighting important projects, as well as any recognition you’ve received. Don’t forget to request recommendations from anyone who can vouch for you.
3. Reach out to those who could help
When you’re lacking in experience, getting in contact with individuals who may be able to help you secure an internship can be intimidating, but everyone’s got to start somewhere.
Make a list of all the companies you would like to approach and research who would be the best person to get in contact with regarding work experience and internships. The wonderful thing about the internet is that communication is free and fast – there really are no limitations. Try sending across a copy of your CV and politely enquiring whether they know of any opportunities, no matter how small.
Remember, the people you contact might overlook your first email. It can feel awkward contacting the same person more than once, but persistence can pay off. If you don’t hear back, try sending a friendly follow-up email or even tweeting them. What’s the worst that can happen?
4. Make sure you know what you’re talking about
If your application is in response to an advertisement, read the role requirements carefully before submitting your CV. While it’s unlikely you’ll get turned down if you don’t meet an entire list of requirements, it’s important that your knowledge and skillset is along the lines of what they’re looking for.
If there are any keywords in the job advert that you don’t understand, look them up and learn the basics if you can. If you’re invited to an interview, you need to know what you’re talking about – or at least have the confidence to respond to a question where you’re unsure of the answer. For example, if they ask about your knowledge in an area you know little about, you can admit to being unsure, but demonstrate your willingness to learn.
5. Be prepared to start work immediately
One thing that could make employers view you favourably is the ability to start work immediately. There probably won’t be many people who are able to do this, and so if you make yourself readily available, it may be easier to secure an internship.
It might be stressful preparing to start an internship with very little notice, but it will certainly provide you with a learning experience, and could even help you deal with pressure once you secure a permanent industry role. Throw yourself into any task you are given and you may find yourself with a full-time job sooner than you might think.
If you need more advice or you are unsure of what to do, our Career Support team is ready to help.