Internships are a great way to start a career and are becoming a more common route into paid employment in many industries.
But with so many young people now applying for each place, it’s important to take the right steps to ensure you are successful in your applications.
Here are our ten top tips on how to find an internship.
1. Use your initiative
If you’ve found the perfect company to gain experience with but they aren’t looking for an intern, don’t let that put you off applying.
It’s definitely worth sending a speculative letter explaining your interest and why you think you would be an asset to the team, even if they can just offer you a few hours of time a week.
You never know, they might have been thinking about getting an intern and your letter could be perfect timing — or they could just be impressed by your enthusiasm and be willing to give it a shot.
2. Tailor your CV and cover letter
One of the most important things to think about when considering how to find an internship is your CV and cover letter.
You might not have had much relevant work experience but companies will expect that from potential interns.
However, what you do need to do is make sure your CV shows how you are interested in that particular industry and the skills you’ve got that would benefit them, such as examples of you being a good communicator or competent at using social media if that’s relevant to the role.
3. Do your research
If you’re working out how to find an internship at a particular company, ensure your cover letter and CV reflect how well you know their particular aims and ambitions, as well as any recent developments or relevant news.
If you have to go for an interview, showing you have done your research is an easy way to impress.
4. Keep your eyes peeled
As well as checking more traditional job boards and websites, it’s also worth following the social media accounts of relevant contacts within companies you might be interested in (their business accounts rather than personal) as they often mention how to find an internship within their team.
It’s also another great way of keeping up to date with what’s going on in the business which will be useful for your CV and any future interview.
If you send out an application but don’t hear back it’s worth getting in touch after a few weeks have passed to check they received your application. It might also be worth asking whether there is anything you can do to be successful in the future, if not at this stage.
Don’t be worried about being pushy — it’s fine to get back in touch once. Also, remember that just because you aren’t given a chance at one company doesn’t mean you won’t be snapped up by someone else.
Lots of people are applying for some of these internship roles so it might take a few knockbacks before you are given your time to shine.
6. Find the right contact
When asked how to find an internship with them, many employers will tell you that the first failure of many applicants is sending their CVs to a generic email address.
Although it might be time consuming, do some research and try and find the most suitable person — whether that be an official intern/work experience co-ordinator or another named employee.
If you can’t find anything online, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and ask who the best contact is to send it to — this is a better use of your time than sending it to an inbox where no one will pick it up!
7. Timing is key
If you’re sending off your CV the day after graduation then the likelihood is you’ve missed the boat for internships happening over the summer months.
As many of these internship positions are now so popular, recruitment often starts a long time in advance.
Make sure you keep a note of any application deadlines and don’t miss them — it won’t be the best first impression if you send your CV the day after everyone else.
8. Apply for the right roles
All internships are going to look good on your CV and help you in gaining full-time employment, but there’s little point in wasting your time applying for something that doesn’t suit your skill set.
Don’t just go for anything and everything – make a list of the industries you are hoping to work in and research how to find an internship at the companies you would like to work with.
Remember, if you aren’t really interested in the work it’s going to be hard to express your motivation and desire — two skills employers are definitely going to be looking for.
9. Start straight away
Make sure you include on your cover letter and in any interviews that you can start the role straight away.
Often they are hiring an intern at a certain time to help with extra workload or for support on a new project, so being able to begin immediately can be a big advantage.
It also shows you are keen to get going and will be looked upon favourably by employers.
10. Keep in touch
Once you’ve secured the internship make sure you keep in touch with the key contacts in the industry. They will probably be able to help you out with finding another one or at least be relied on for a good reference for the future.
The more contacts you have the easier it will be to find your next internship, as well as your first proper job, so keep a note of contact details for when you need them.
If you really like the company, you might even be able to turn your internship into a full-time job.
How to find an internship
Internships are a great way to get started in your chosen industry and often lead to that first dream role you’ve been waiting for.
If you’d like to give your CV a spruce before you start applying to internships, click here to find out more about our professional CV writing services.