How To Apply for an Internship (And What To Do After Applying)
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Internships are paid or unpaid work opportunities offered by organisations for anyone who is keen to gain work experience before permanent employment. Some take up internship roles to understand the jobs that they prefer and the ones they may not be suitable for. An internship role adds value to one's resume and portfolio. In this article, we examine the importance of internships, how to look for internship opportunities and how to apply for an internship once you find something that fits your interests.
Why are internships important?
Internships are important as they broaden a student's knowledge and prepares them for real world work experience. Internships are crucial for students if the colleges offer credit scores for it. The students get to know about how the concepts they learn apply to real-life situations. An internship helps a student to be involved in their subject. During an internship, a student can do a self-assessment and understand the areas they need to improve in and the skills they need to develop for a career.
For those who have completed their learning, an internship offers the opportunity to work with firms of repute and procure a professional certificate from them. Many companies specify work experience as a requirement in their job postings. If a candidate has three to four internships by the time they graduate, and more after graduation, employers gauge that the candidate has some real work experience and may place them ahead of competitors. For example, if you are applying for a job in an art gallery, previous intern roles in a couple of art galleries adds points to your resume.
How to apply for an internship
You may prepare for an internship just the way you prepare for a job. The process is very similar, both from your end and the company's end. If you are looking for an internship, follow these steps:
1. Know the type of internship you want
If you are a law or an accounting student, you would like to intern with a law or an accounting firm. If you are a humanities' student, you can have a wider choice. For example, you may have recently graduated in finance, but are not sure if you want it to be your career. You can then intern with a financial services company and get to know your preferences.
If you are undecided about a career, you can intern with more than one company to know about your interests as they develop. Be open and understand that an internship is for gaining knowledge and experience. Once you decide on the type of internship, fix the duration and your time availability. After you have all the relevant details, prepare your resume.
2. Get a recommendation
Talk to the heads of your department in your college, or bosses from your previous internships. Request a letter of recommendation to attach to your resume. It adds value when employers see such letters of recommendation from senior professionals.
3. Write a resume
Prepare a crisp and brief resume with a formal cover letter. Give prominence to your academic record, awards and previous internships, if any. Mention the purpose and expectation of your internship request. Mention your IT skills and your familiarity with word processing tools, spreadsheets and presentations. Proofread your resume and ensure that it is error free.
4. Apply for internships
Start applying for internships at least a month before your vacations, or when you are ready to begin. The process might take a few days or weeks, and you could lose valuable time by searching and applying late. Do not restrict to just one or two, but apply for many prospective opportunities. If you are applying in response to an advertisement, refer to that in your cover letter. If you are applying online, make sure you attach resumes and recommendations.
What to do after applying for an internship
After applying for an internship, consider doing these things:
1. Respond and follow up
If a company replies saying that they do not have an opportunity, send a reply thanking them. If you have not heard from a company for more than ten days, you can call them and find out the status of your application. If a company replies asking you to call later, make a note in your calendar and call them promptly.
2. Prepare for the interview
Attending interviews is a great way to know about your strengths and the areas that you can improve upon. Read about the company, what they do, their employee profiles and job descriptions. An interviewer may expect you to know basic information about the company you are applying to. Be clear about your expectations and why you want to intern there.
3. Attend the interview without fail
If you receive a call or an email inviting you for an interview, respond appropriately. If for any reason you are unable to attend, let them know and ask for an alternate date. Dress appropriately and greet the interviewer once you enter the room. Sit only after they offer you a seat. Sit in an upright position. Since they are aware that you are new and may not be very comfortable, they may engage in ice-breaking conversations to make you feel at ease. Answer the questions with confidence and enthusiasm.
4. Follow up after interviewing
Interviewers may offer you the internship during the interview or may ask you to wait. If you are offered the internship on the spot, ask about date and time of joining. Find out about any documentation or identity proof that you may have to submit. Ensure you follow all protocols on time. If the interviewer says ''We will revert to you", or "Call me in a week" do the required follow up. If you are unable to accept the position, respond to them by phone or email with a clear explanation.
5. Be professional
Dress appropriately and focus on learning. You may be given insignificant tasks like running errands within the office, making copies, filing, sorting or making tea for the team. Do it without complaining and learn from everyone. Observe how an office functions and the nuances of every job role. If you make a good impression, and you like working there, it is quite possible that the company may consider you for a full-time position. Be punctual and complete your assigned jobs on time. Ask questions to understand the process and the job. Offer to do tasks before being asked.
6. Get the internship certificate
At the end of the internship, thank your mentors and everyone who helped you. Before leaving, you can find out if you can reach out for similar internship roles in the future. You can also find out if you can refer the company to other friends who are looking for an internship. As a standard practice, companies give out certificates for internships. Make sure you get one before your tenure is complete.
Related: How to Create an Internship Report
Where to find internships
The colleges that you study in can be the first source for internship opportunities. Most colleges have tie-ups with relevant industries for internship opportunities. Colleges periodically inform the students about such opportunities through notice boards, newsletters, student portals and emails. Students can also know about specific internship opportunities from other sources like:
Many companies post internship opportunities on their website and job portals. You can search for internships using online search engines like Indeed. You can narrow down the search by location and industry to find out about opportunities that match your area of study and interest.
Companies place advertisements in the education and employment sections of leading newspapers and online publications. Some newspapers bring out such supplements on a particular day of the week. Browse through newspapers regularly so that you can spot the right opportunity at the right time.
A company may need more than one intern at any point in time. They could ask interns who are already working with them to scout for more. Develop a good network with professionals in similar career profiles, so that you can get information about such opportunities as and when they arise. Connect with senior executives from a relevant industry who can help you with both contacts and opportunities for internships.
Follow the companies that you are keen to intern in and enable notifications. This gives you a heads-up when they post new internship opportunities. You can also be proactive and tell them that you are keen to work with them as an intern. Senior executives may follow these posts and engage with you on social media and respond positively.
Career fests and job fairs are platforms where aspirants meet potential employers. You can meet company representatives and find out about suitable opportunities. Though not as popular as they used to be, career fests can be a great way to scout for an internship.
Shortlist the companies within your locality where you would like to intern. Follow their websites and visit them periodically to check if they have listed an internship opportunity. You can find such opportunities listed on their careers page.
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