With over 500,000 students expected to attend university this year, competition for graduate jobs is going to be pretty high. It’s a graduate-eat-graduate (nomomom) world out there, so how can you get ahead of the crowd to give yourself the best chance of landing a job? Behold, the internship!
An internship, in case you weren’t aware, is a period of work experience, usually undertaken in the summer vacation, where you can get a taste for what it’s like to work in a specific role or industry. They’re pretty essential given the competition for jobs. Sound awesome? Want an internship all for yourself? Good.
How Do I Apply For An Internship?
The application process for every internship is different. For internships with larger companies, you may have to complete an application form as well as sending in a CV and cover letter. What every internship application will ask for however is a CV, so it’s important that you put an attractive internship CV together, to make sure you stand out to potential employers.
Your internship CV should contain six main sections.
There’s a reason school teachers told you to write your name at the top of every sheet of paper… so that you don’t forget to put it on the top of your internship CV. It may be worth putting your name in a different size and font to the rest of the CV, so that your name stands out immediately when employers sift through CVs.
Other things to list include your address, contact number and email address (duh, obviously!). You should also put in a link to your Linked In profile (if you haven’t got one, get one) and any other online portfolio.
Your personal profile should be tailored for every internship you apply for. This is perhaps the most important part of your internship CV and should address the skills you’ve developed in the academic world and how you hope to apply them in this role and what you’re aiming to get out of the internship. Don’t say money.
List your most recent education first and also relevant achievements and grades. You might also want set a few lines (no more than 50 or 60 words) to explain how certain university modules have allowed you develop your knowledge or skills in a particular area.
If you’re tight on space, don’t list every single GCSE you achieved. Rather, simply write something along the lines of “10 GCSEs, grades A-C.”
This should also be tailored for every internship you apply for. You should also phrase experience and responsibilities in a clever way. You might think that companies may not be interested in how you worked in retail every weekend, but they would be interested in how you “consistently provided high levels of customer service on a regular basis” and “managed a small team of co-workers to achieve daily, weekly and monthly targets.”
You can also list any experience you have with university societies. For example, if you co-host a show on the university radio station, mention that you “scripted, edited and presented a weekly show” and “handled the society's finances throughout the year 2013-14.”
List any transferable skills in this section. Internship employers are likely to be very interested in this section too. They’re aware you may not have an abundance of ‘real’ work experience, but if you can show that you’ve picked up transferable skills throughout your studies, this can give your application a real boost.
If possible, include two references. One should be from your academic tutor, the other from a former manager. Ask them beforehand though, to be polite.
Putting a CV together for an internship can be difficult, particularly if you have limited experience, but employers are looking for enthusiasm and a willingness to learn too, so follow our advice and apply away!