Internships are a great avenue to gain work experience and useful skills for undergraduates and graduates in their profession. A lot of organisations also run internship programmes in order to vet and train potential employees. Although most good student internships do not translate to full-time or permanent employment in most cases, as they only last for a fixed period of time, the application process is often the same. Applicants for internships are also – like prospective employees – required to have certain qualifications, submit applications, and scale through one or several interview stages.
Every year various organisations – public and privately run – put out offers in newspapers, magazines, and on the internet, calling qualified candidates to apply for their roles. The competition among the applicants is often intense. To increase your chances of landing the role, especially if it’s a popular international student internship, there are certain things you should look out for.
Here are three things you should remember when considering an internship
- Be Aware
The first step to even have a shot at getting an internship, is being cognisant. Getting a coveted internship at your dream organisation requires some action and intention on your part. Do some research in order to find out when your target organisation makes a call for applications. For instance, the World Bank Group runs a number of internships and career programmes such as the Young Professionals Programme, the Saudi Recruitment Programme, the World Bank Group Analyst Programme and the Recruitment Drive for MNA Fellows Programme: the application cycle for each programme is stated on the World Bank Group’s website. Also, you can find out the prerequisites for the internship roles you intend to apply for, at least a year before you even apply – to give yourself an opportunity to acquire skills or qualifications needed for the role. These skills can range from practical tools such as Photoshop – to having specific professional work experience in team management.
- Prepare a Standard Résumé and Cover Letter
Organisations do not interview all applicants. Instead, they sort through their pile of résumés and cover letters and then select the applicants that they think deserve an interview. These two documents are what will shape the organisation’s first impression of applicants. Serious candidates will ensure that their résumés are ATS (Applicants Tracking System) compliant. An applicant tracking system involves the use of artificial intelligence to scour through a heap of digital résumés for choosing the ones that are standard. In recent times most organisations have adopted ATS in their recruitment process. If you want your résumé to be ATS compliant you must avoid the following: graphics, icons, symbols, photos, hyperlinks, quotation marks, long vertical lines, horizontal lines, graphs, text boxes and font sizes less than 11 points. To be on the safe side when it comes to the type of fonts, stick to Times New Roman. Also, send your résumé in pdf format to obviate a loss of alignment.
While your résumé is the means through which you reveal your skill set, work experience and educational qualifications, your cover letter allows you to showcase your enthusiasm and ability to thrive in the role you are applying for. A good cover letter ought to be concise. It should be addressed to the hiring manager or any other designated person for the purpose of the application, and should have not more than four paragraphs. The first paragraph should clearly state the role you are applying for and your personal and professional attributes making you a suitable candidate. The second paragraph should mention the hard and transferable skills that you possess that will enable you perform the role.
The third paragraph should contain features of the organisation that attract you to it and what you will do to add value to it.
The fourth paragraph should contain your conclusion: thank the reader for their time and state that you are enclosing a résumé for their consideration. Do not forget to sign, state your full name, email address and LinkedIn URL – if you have one.
- Prepare Thoroughly for the Interview
Before an interview here are a couple of questions you should prepare appropriate answers for. For example,
- “Why did you apply for the role?”
- “Why do you want to want to intern at this organisation?”
- “In what ways will you add value to the organisation?”
It’s also important that you know the content of your résumé, have a reasonable salary expectation and have one or two questions to ask the interviewers.
The following things cannot be stressed enough: dress appropriately, be punctual, be polite, sit upright, know crucial details about the organisation, and maintain eye contact throughout the interview.