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How to go about internships: 6 golden tips

Written by Elke Vanhouche on 9 February 2018 for Tech Graduates

Ah, internships. Aren’t they the best? You get to learn so much about work life, you get to enhance your skills and get a feel for what it is you want or don’t want to do. Internships give you that extra confidence you need when applying for your first real job. And let’s be real here, you definitely are one step ahead of your competitors who didn’t apply for an internship, so kudos to you! Because employers highly welcome new employees who have already had exposure to a certain field and understand the type of work they will be doing once they’re hired. But then again, we’re talking about the great internships here, the golden ones every student strives for. How do you know if an internship will provide you with the experience and accomplishments you’re looking for? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back and we’ll be breaking down 6 golden tips to get you where you want to be.

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1.     Start looking on time

This might sound like an obvious one, but most students have so many things on their plate they simply forget about applying on time. And that’s a pity since many companies – especially the bigger ones – have deadlines substantially earlier than the deadline imposed by the college or university. So why wait? Take initiative and be in the drivers seat of your own future. When applying well ahead of everyone else, you buy yourself the time to think about the experience you want to gain from your internship and what internship best suits your goals. Do you want to apply at a large or a small company? Do you wish to work in a different city for a couple of months? Or in a different country even? Explore all your options and go talk with different companies about the internships they offer and if you’re lucky, you get to pick the one that suits you best and might really kick-start your career.

Do you want to take matters into your own hands? Then keep reading, because we’re just getting started with helping you on your way!

2.     Put care into your resume

The one thing you need to remember is that an internship is a two-way street. You are looking to enhance your skills and companies are looking for someone to help them out with a certain project or task. Your resume is the first thing they’ll get their hands on, together with dozens of others. It is of crucial importance that your resume stands out as it is the most important document in a job search process. How to make it stand out? Both your resume and cover letter have to be tailor-made to fit the internship and the company you’re applying for. Why? Because you want to convince the reader that you’re the best person for the job. A tailor-made resume sends a strong message that you did your research and that you know what the company is about. Of course, your resume should also tell something about you. Make it your own by adding a splash of color or a refreshing layout. Just make sure you keep it professional! Proof reading is a must as you really don’t want any typo’s or spelling mistakes in there.

3.     Go to career fairs

Chances are that your future employer is well prepared and wants to take action into their own hands. Career fairs are the ideal spot for top employers to scout and recruit possible employees, but they also keep an eye out for possible interns. It’s the most “safe” environment to get a feel for what the job/internship market has to offer and to introduce yourself. Be prepared to give an elevator pitch about you, your skills, interests, experience, and most importantly the reason why you want in on the internship!

4.     Don’t forget to follow up

Not receiving any response to your application right away is normal. You must understand that there might be piles of applications the company has to go through. Just give them some time, let’s say two weeks is a proper time to wait for a reply. If you don’t hear back after two weeks, you send them a reminder. Keep it short and simple: you want to make a strong impression, not overstay your welcome.

5.     Act professionally

When you’re selected for an introductory meeting, you must act professionally. An internship is the first step in your career so go about the first meeting as if it were a real job interview:

  • Arrive on time
  • Be respectful
  • Dress the part
  • Be proactive
  • Ask questions

6.     Stay in touch

Not every internship results in a job offer but it is important that you don’t burn any bridges on your last day. What do we mean by that? Don’t sneak away on your last day. Use it as the perfect opportunity to thank everyone you worked with and say your goodbyes. Tell them about your experience in the company or the team and what you have learnt during your internship. Express your gratitude and ask for feedback. It makes it easier to connect on LinkedIn afterwards (if you haven’t already) and maybe ask for a recommendation. Don’t be afraid to send them an email every once in a while. It’s the best way to stay top of mind. And who knows? If a job opening presents itself they might just think about you!

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So, are you feeling better prepared to start your internship hunt? Or do you need some proper guidance before jumping in? Why don’t you stop by for a chat? Exellys is a partner to a broad number of companies (from scale-ups to corporates) and is an expert in finding the perfect match based on your preferences (so no surprises there). We do not only find the perfect match for you, we also provide support during and after the internship. One of our Exellys Talent Development Managers will be at your disposal to help you with any questions you might have. You also get several coaching meetings to help you get the most out of your internship. And when you’re finally ready to conquer the job market? Exellys will be right there besides you, helping you score the perfect job. So, if you’re looking for a sidekick during your internship process? Just reach out to us and we will pencil you in for an informal chat. Looking forward to meeting you!