Taking on an internship while you’re at university, or recently after you graduate can be a hugely beneficial way to get some experience in the field you’re interested in.
Whether it’s a step towards your dream career, or you just need to narrow down which path to take, internships provide valuable learning opportunities.
Knowing how to land a student internship can be the tricky part! There are some considerations you’ll need to make, but our guide aims to clear up any uncertainties or questions you may have.
Internships aren’t the right path for every student or recent graduate, but they can give your CV a useful boost if you choose carefully.
What is an internship?
You might be wondering what the difference between an internship and work experience is. Put simply, an internship is a hands-on experience with a business for a limited period of time.
You’ll have a specific job role and tasks to carry out, which will likely be listed on the job description before you apply. They’re usually advertised publicly on job platforms, and the application process is more formal than volunteering opportunities.
Internships vary in length, with anything from a few weeks to a year. If you’re a full time student, look for ones that last a few months, so you can do them on your summer holiday, or opt for a graduate internship which tends to last longer once you’ve finished your degree.
What are the benefits?
Whether you’re completely set on a particular career path or you’re unsure which route to take, an internship can be a great solution.
There are loads of benefits to an internship, including:
- You’ll get bags of experience: No matter where your career takes you, the experience will give you lots of transferable skills like organisation and communicating effectively.
- An idea of what career path to take: it’s a no-strings-attached way of working out whether this is the right career for you.
- Looks great on your CV: Employers love to see practical experience in the workplace and will acknowledge your time spent as an intern favourably.
- Confidence: Knowing what an office or working environment is like will do wonders for you when it comes to applying for a job in future.
- Connections: You’ll meet loads of people which could be useful in the future. Make a good impression and you’ll likely get a shining reference or even a job offer.
Can you do an internship while studying?
Yes! You can undertake an internship as a student or after you’ve graduated. The choice is yours.
Depending on your uni schedule, you might be able to arrange a part-time internship that fits around your lectures. This could be one or two days a week or full-time over the holidays.
Things to look out for before applying
Doing an internship as a student or once you’ve graduated is often a great idea, but there are some things to keep in mind:
- The work might not be very exciting – You may get lucky with a challenging project to manage, but some companies ask their interns to do admin and make the tea. Research the role as much as you can before your start date, but know that even if it’s not the most engaging role it can give you a feel for the industry you test out.
- You might have to relocate – The best internship opportunities are often in the larger UK cities, so be prepared that you may have to uproot to get one.
How to land an internship
Once you’ve decided to do an internship, the next step is to work out how to find the right one for you.
Beginning the search can feel a little daunting, but once you know which industry you’d like to intern in, you can begin to narrow it down.
University mentors or friends and family can be a great place to ask for advice or any opportunities going, and career advisors can point you in the right direction.
Don’t discount social media either. Search for relevant hashtags on Twitter, and get scrolling on Linkedin too. As well as this, job sites often have specific sections where internships are listed.
How to stand out to an employer
First things first, you need to have a clear and well-presented CV. Ask a friend or mentor to proofread for any spelling mistakes or errors.
It’s also important to make sure all information on your CV and application is accurate. Remove any instances where you may have stretched the truth or exaggerated your experience. Most employers can see straight through this and will discard your application without offering an interview.
That being said, remember to put emphasis on any relevant experience you do have that will help push your CV to the top of the pile.
When to apply for an internship
Knowing how to land a student internship is one thing, but knowing when to apply for one is another!
The main thing that catches students out when applying for internships is the deadlines. For many of the most competitive placements available, deadlines can close as early as October for those starting the following summer. So if interning is on your mind, you’ll need to be quick off the mark.
Applying early can also stand you in good stead. It goes without saying that when working on an application you should keep an eye on the closing date.
Our advice for your intern experience
Now you know how to land a student internship, follow our tips for standing out on your first day.
- Be friendly and act confidently – You might feel terrified, but to impress you’ll need to step out of your comfort zone.
- Keep notes – You’ll learn a lot quickly, so jot down the things you do so you can update your CV.
- Ask for feedback – Help improve on your abilities by asking for constructive feedback from your manager or colleagues.
It’s important to remember that when applying for roles, you may not be successful straight away. Keep trying, and remember every successful person started with no experience at some point. Be resilient and keep your head up!
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