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Completing an internship has become an essential step on the path to building a successful career. While internships are often not paid, and might not be credited in your degree, they can help you stand out in a sea of graduates competing for roles.
According to a 2015 Future Leaders Index study, 67 per cent of 18 to 29 year olds worry about their job prospects. In this increasingly cut-throat landscape, an internship builds your competitive edge. Plus, you can complete one anywhere in the world, so it can come with incredible life experience, too.
How do I find the right role?
First up think about what you want your career to look like and the skills you need to develop to make that happen. Then think about the sort of workplace environment and ideology you’re attracted to. Once you know what you’re after, research some specific organisations that appeal to you. You might do this by looking through sites like LinkedIn or Seek, reading business blogs, or by talking to your contacts at uni or home. Not sure where to start? BRW’s 2015 Best Places to Work list might help you narrow down the options.
You can seek out an internship independently or work with university staff to find one. You can go directly to an organisation and ask them about ad hoc internships, or look for formal internship programs. Do your research to see which places provide internships, the timing and length of placements, how to apply, and who you’ll need to contact.
I’ve found some great organisations. How do I secure an internship?
Once you have a few companies in your sights, prepare your resume and start making contact. Ana Ferreira, work-integrated learning program manager at Deakin University’s Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment, says you need to write a base resume detailing your skill sets, including discipline-specific skills and general attributes, career objectives and previous work experience.
Once you’ve polished your resume, you’re ready to submit. Send your application to the appropriate contact person in the company and ensure you respond to any additional requirements, such as cover letters or referees. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and follow up your application. A phone conversation can help to build rapport.
I have an interview. What can I do to prepare?
Get family or friends to throw you some curly interview questions so you can practice your answers. Some examples might include: ‘Why are you interested in working for us?’ or, ‘Tell us about a time that you used initiative.’
During the interview, stay positive about your goals and give examples of reasons why you can help add value to the organisation. Remember that they won’t expect you to be highly experienced, so will be looking for a good attitude, energy and initiative. Be sure to dress professionally, relax and be yourself.
See how Deakin helps its students secure internships
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