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Applying for an Internship
Applying for an internship can seem like a bewildering process. Aside from turning up at the office on your knees and begging for an internship, how do you go about applying for an internship?
Really, you should treat applying for an internship as if you are applying for a full-time job. That means no casual emails and no begging. Most people apply at least six months in advance of the internship.
Some internship programmes have yearlong waiting lists with literally hundreds of applications pouring in on a regular basis, so it’s really important that you take the time to craft a tip-top application. Once you've nailed your application technique, search for internships on our jobs board.
How to apply for an internship?
Internship applications come in all shapes and sizes. Some large companies might have internship application forms, which you’ll be required to fill out, while others simply provide an email address to which you should send your CV and cover letter. You might even be applying speculatively for an internship, or for one you’ve heard about through an acquaintance.
In all your applications, you should be thinking about the following:
- What can I offer the company?
- What are they looking for in an intern and how do I match that profile?
- Why do I want to work for this company?
Every application should showcase the skills and qualities that you feel will make you an asset to the company. Some companies specify the qualities that they are looking for in an intern, but, broadly speaking, most companies look for candidates with plenty of enthusiasm, who can work well without too much guidance and can adapt quickly to new challenges.
Online internship applications…
Some larger companies might require you to fill out an online application form. The key thing to remember is that these companies will have a staggering amount of internship applications. Avoid falling at the first hurdle by ensuring you answer each question fully (but concisely) and triple check your application for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.
Make sure you demonstrate how well you match the requirements that they’re looking for in an intern, and back your assertions up with examples. For more information, check out our guide to online application forms.
Sending internship applications to a general email address…
Many companies simply provide an email address, where you should send your internship application. If it’s a generic email address, call up the company and ask the name of the person to whom your application should be sent. Make sure you specify in your email title which internship you are applying to. You’ll need to attach your CV to the email and either incorporate your covering letter into the body of the email or send it as an attachment.
It’s a good idea to keep your covering letter relatively short: it should be no longer than an A4 page. You might want to split it up into three or four paragraphs, identifying: why you want to work for their company, what skills you have to offer them, why it would benefit them to take you on and what areas of work you are particularly interested in.
You might also need to include what dates you are available. Your attached CV should be tailored to their company and the specific internship; that means excluding anything which is irrelevant and emphasising your relevant work experience and skills. You might want to check out our articles on how to write a CV and how to write a covering letter for further guidance.
Speculative internship applications…
This is trickier. The best thing to do is call the company and ask for the contact name of whom you should send your speculative application to. Then email them over a speculative covering letter and your CV. You might want to identify a particular area or department that you’re particularly interested in and make sure you mention when you are available to start.
With a well-written, tailored covering letter and CV, you can’t really go wrong when it comes to applying for internships. The main thing to remember is that you shouldn’t give up; you might have to fire off numerous applications before you land that first internship.