You may be in your second or third year of university and looking at the job market. It may be daunting for new graduates, with reports that in 2013 there were 12 million graduates in the UK. However, many businesses hiring new grads take them through internship programmes. Internships give you experience in your chosen area and are a useful addition to your CV. They allow you to network with the influencers in your field, and they give you hands on experience. In addition to these advantages, you will also be financially compensated. Legislation now dictates that ‘workers’ must receive at least the minimum national wage. (International students whose home country is outside of the EU will need to check with their university if they are able to work on their visa.) Instead of working in food service or retail while you study, a paid internship gives you the chance to advance your career. Start your internship search by following the tips below.
Use your university
Your tutors and careers service may know of companies which work with the university to offer internships. For example Queen Mary University has its own programme (QInterns), and the careers section of their website has lots of useful resources.
Utilise online internship searches
Several websites specialise in compiling internship information for students. Prospects has some good suggestions, and other useful information on internships. If you have dream company choices who aren’t actively offering internships, don’t be afraid to use a site such as LinkedIn to find hiring manager contact details. Talk to them to see if they would be interested in taking on an intern.
Consider your field
Some industries are much more likely than others to offer paid internships. Banking, IT, and government fields are likely to offer paid positions. Hard sciences also have a higher tendency to offer paid internships compared to arts programs.
Research your companies
Once you’ve found the paid internship of your dreams, make a great first impression. With the job market languishing, you will face a fair amount of competition for your internship opportunity. This is especially true if you are in a field that doesn’t have wide access to paid positions. Research the company, its goals, its products, and the company culture. You want to go into the interview with passion and energy. Show the company that you want to learn everything you can and that you already have the basics out of the way.
Say thank you
Once you complete the internship, stay in contact even if you don’t receive an immediate job offer. Send a thank you letter to all of your major points of contact within the company. You never know when a polite gesture may lead you into being considered for an opening in the future.