How do I get an internship?
So you’ve figured out what career path you want to pursue and now you want to gain some practical experience to beef out that CV. But how do you actually get an internship? It’s an exciting prospect but can feel a bit overwhelming. Below are some tips to help you score that dream internship.
Start by researching the companies or organisations that interest you or even the industries that you are passionate about.
This step can be achieved online and relatively quickly with the plethora of information companies have on their websites, social media accounts or even in news articles written about them.
For a Public Relations company, this may be researching clients they look after or work they have done previously. For a newspaper, this could be stories they have covered recently or the audience they target. If interest is sparked at this stage the passion you will have interning won’t be fake, it will be a genuine interest. Internships that you are passionate about are far more likely to end in paid employment than not; passion is infectious.
Make a list as you go so you can keep a record of places you are interested in for future reference. When I started interning I created an entire excel spreadsheet. It sounds crazy, but it’s helped me keep a record of companies I have contacted, their contact information and is a great resource of places I aspire to work for after I graduate.
2. Getting in touch:
Most companies have contact information in their ‘About Us’ or ‘Contact Us’ section on their website. In my opinion calling the company to ask if they take on interns is the best way to start. This way, you gain a lead on a name to address further correspondence by email with or if you’re lucky could be put through directly to discuss with them the details of applying for an internship program.
Being personal and putting in the extra effort makes you stand out. If this is an industry you’re passionate about you’ve got to keep in mind there are 100 other people who want that internship, being lazy won’t get you noticed.
Always note the name of the person who looks after the internship program and thank the person that you spoke to and make note of their name too.
Timing is also relevant when calling and emailing. Call early on in the day and try to be in their inbox first thing in the morning. Keep in mind that at unchtime people are out of the office or away from their desk and the afternoon is generally a high stress period.
3. Tailor your application:
Once you have clarified that a workplace takes on interns the next step is to send an email to follow up. In the subject line make note that your email is regarding interest in interning with them. Also make sure to address the email body to the person that coordinates the interns. Never address an email as ‘To Whom It May Concern’. Make sure it is tailored as it shows off your professionalism and attention to detail.
The body of the email should then be a brief introduction about yourself and why you want to intern with them and what time you had in mind to do so. Be as clear as possible and the ‘why’ portion could not be more critical. Is it because you read their articles on AFL and are passionate about sports journalism? Do you think you have great ideas to add to the PR work they have done for one of their clients? Anything that is as personal and tailored to the company the better. I can’t stress enough the importance of this step. Also include where and what you are currently studying and relate it back to why you want to intern at their company.
Proofread aloud to pick up errors. Even let someone else scan over to see if it makes sense.
4. The follow up:
I’ve played the waiting game numerous times before. However, considering how busy people are in this industry and how many emails they receive do you think they are going to respond just because you emailed?
If you’re eager to get experience the follow up email is important. If you’ve not received a response one week after your initial email simply email again. You’ve put in the effort to research, call and tailor the application, but remaining persistent is key.
For one company I had my heart set on I followed up three times before I even received an interview. It doesn’t need to be desperate or pestering, a simple, ‘I was wondering if you’d considered my application?’ or ‘I am checking in to see if you’d had a chance to read my email?’ are polite options to use.
5. The interview:
If the internship or work placement requires an interview to ascertain if they want to take you on, this is your chance to shine and to clarify if this is the right opportunity for you.
Take care to prepare and practice, and return to the reasons why you want to intern with this particular company and why you want to work in this particular industry. It sounds simple but so many people don’t have proper answers to these questions.
Make sure you bring some questions with you to ask about what the internship entails and a curiosity about the company and the work they do. By having no questions you unfortunately come across as disinterested.
Good Luck and Best Wishes.
Today on My Interning Life, Master of Communications student, Stephanie Hume, says that persistence, hard work and self-belief are key to having success while undertaking internships.
That’s a tough one as I feel I change my mind constantly, as new avenues from things I read and hear about always inspire me. However, I think it’s wise to have a few ideas and to be flexible at the same time.
Nonetheless, I’d love to get some experience in an agency such as Ogilvy or Edelman and then work in the marketing department of the NGV or the theatre’s of London or New York or even for film production companies like The Weinstein Company. It’s really quite endless. That’s what I love about PR I have so many ideas and industries I want to pursue.
Tell us about your internship experiences
My first break was at Mango Communications, which is part of the DDB network. After un-enrolling from a post-grad course that really wasn’t my thing I rang up Mango that exact same day and asked if they offered internships.
Coincidentally they needed one week to fill as their current intern was going to be away. I believe this moment was the universe extending me a slice of opportunity pie.
My week there was a dream. I was exposed to a bunch of hard-working, talented and friendly individuals and given real responsibility to coordinate coverage with the media for their client, Disney.
After getting into my course mid-year I finally found motivation to pursue internship opportunities elsewhere. I have been fortunate enough to spend a week at CHE Proximity part of Clemenger, three months at The United Nations Global Cities Programme and just before Christmas I spent a month full time at Red Agency’s Melbourne office.
It’s been an amazing 6 months and I’m still excited about what 2013 will hold.
Tell us about the the ripe and what you do
The Ripe is a music website started by Huw Nolan and Tom Pitney. It was launched last February and is supported by writers, photographers, videographers and editors. We review band’s work and provide media coverage of festivals and concerts in Melbourne. It’s been a great tool for us all young to contribute to our portfolio and we’ve also become really great friends too.
I am one of their writers and also do PR work for them on the side. It’s enabled me to keep up my writing and as there are talented writers onboard it keeps me motivated to constantly improve and find original ways of expressing myself.
It’s our first birthday this February 14th at The Workers Club. We’ve locked in City Calm Down, Collarbones and Panama to play there. It’s going to be so much fun. I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved in such a short time.
What has been the most important lesson you learnt while interning?
Persistence, hard work and self-belief are the three big things for me. There are times when I was overwhelmed with how much work I was given. I just had to breathe in and acknowledge that being nervous or unsure of myself was what happened to everyone in new experiences and when you are constantly thrown into new experiences it happens more often. There really is no reason why anyone should be self-doubting as we are capable of pretty amazing things.
Persistence pays off in bucket loads too. At one of my internships I spent most of my time developing a media report and had to call up pretty much every media outlet in the country for information the client needed. Its enormity was overwhelming but I just kept on putting on a brave face and calling those numbers and people eventually got back to me and I even formed a few relationships in the process. Persistence and hard work cannot be substituted.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Giving myself space is key and researching new music to review is a good distress. I do love spending time with my parents too. My favourite thing to do during semester is staying in on Saturday night and having dinner with them and then watching a movie. Bliss. Other than that I love reading and seeing my friends. Looking after my health is a big thing and the only way I get through how much I put on my plate. I can’t take big nights out anymore.
How do you juggle interning, course work, paid work, and having a life?
Last semester all I did was uni work, interning and saw my family and added socialising in sometimes if I had the chance.
I did an Arts degree at The University of Melbourne before my Masters and didn’t put as much of my heart into it. I’m being a massive nerd but I am absolutely loving it all and the opportunity to learn again. Plus my course only goes for a year and a half so I’m happy to make sacrifices now if it means I have a better chance of securing a job on graduating.
Stephanie shares her advice
You can check out all of Stephanie’s work on The Ripe and connect with her on Twitter.
It really is a no brainer. Do as much as you can. Email, call them up, search places online that are of interest and just put yourself out there for an internship, a week’s work experience, or even to meet up for a coffee to discuss their role.
You can’t expect a potential employer to give you a shot if you merely have a university degree. Experience in the industry is just as much an indicator of dedication to a career as it is a catalyst for personal growth.
It’s just a matter of starting somewhere. I’ve emailed places or called them before and received a stern ‘no’. But you can’t get put off by ‘no’ from one, two or three people. You’ve got to put things in perspective and realise the bigger goals and aspirations you are trying to achieve to motivate yourself to keep on calling and emailing.
Make the most of it whilst you are at university too. As whilst I wasn’t enrolled at RMIT, despite my enthusiasm and people liking my writing they wouldn’t take me on as I wasn’t covered by insurance that your university will cover. And if you are lacking inspiration go onto Pinterest’s quote boards. My, the time I waste on there. Good Luck.