I graduated in the summer of 2019, moved home, worked three part-time jobs, and applied to what felt like 100 roles. For the most part, I didn’t even hear back. All the people I befriended at university had a similar experience after graduation and we’d regularly bat messages back and forth about how de-motivating it was to not even receive a rejection letter from an employer. The longer we didn’t get jobs, the more we started to doubt our abilities and question whether we were qualified enough for the jobs available. If you’re feeling this lack of hope, I would really recommend applying for an internship. My experience at Trotman has reinforced what I already knew, taught me loads more, and has reinstalled confidence in myself when applying to new jobs.
Here’s all the reasons an internship is valuable:
- Real life experience: an internship allows you to test out the skills, techniques and knowledge that you learnt at school or at university, without some of the pressures in a permanent role. Your new colleagues will understand that this is your first role in the industry and will be expecting you to ask lots of questions and learn from them.
- Contacts: before getting a job or internship, you may not know anyone in your chosen industry, other than your lecturers. After doing an internship, you will have a much larger pool of people who you can keep in contact with, ask questions to, get references from, and maybe even work with again in the future. This is often called networking and can really advance your professional career.
- Curriculum Vitae: an internship of any length will boost your CV above others. It shows that another employer has been confident enough to take you on and is proof that you know what you’re doing.
- Transition: the real world is daunting, and it can feel easier to stay in your safe university bubble for as long as possible. But unfortunately, the bubble will burst and you will soon find yourself talking to people at the height of their career in the office kitchen. An intern role acts as a friendly transition from university into the world of work. Remember, your colleagues didn’t start high-up, they know exactly what it feels like to be the intern and will help you to settle in.
What to remember:
- You don’t have to have a degree: intern roles are available at any level, so it doesn’t matter if you’ve just finished your GCSEs, A levels, or . This will help you get a better insight into the career you are interested in and help you decide whether you want to study further to become qualified in that industry. For some, an internship will progress to a full-time job and the company may even offer you training and qualifications.
- Don’t worry: you won’t be thrown in at the deep end. When you arrive on the first day, you will be shown around and introduced to everyone. Before starting on assignments, you will be given training so you know exactly what you need to do.
- Ask lots of questions: If you’re ever stuck on a task, just ask for help. There were times when I had to have my manager explain something to me multiple times before I understood – but that’s okay. Remember, it’s better to know what you’re supposed to be doing and do it correctly, than be too afraid to ask for help and have to re-do the whole project! Your colleagues will be impressed when you ask questions – it shows you are interested, care for the work and are confident. It will also help you to get chatting to people and forming relationships in the office.
- Take notes: my biggest advice to anyone in an internship (or even any kind of job), is to briefly note down what you do each day (or week if more convenient). Then, when you come to updating your CV, it is a lot easier. It will also help in future interviews. By clearly recalling tasks and experiences from previous roles, you will show the interviewer that you are capable and will be able to handle the job in which you are applying.
- Payday: interns are often offered a smaller salary or are even unpaid. Before you apply, make sure you are aware of how much you will earn, and whether you can live off that for the next 6 months (or however long your role lasts!). If the role is in a new city, look into how much the average rent costs along with other factors such as public transport.
- Research: do some research of your own. Find out about the industry you’re applying to and what is expected of interns. The UCAS website offers information and a range of useful links to learn more about internships.
Where to look for intern roles:
Some companies will post on search sites, others will use agencies, and some will only advertise on their own website. It’s important to use multiple sites to make sure you’re seeing all the roles available. Below are some good places to start.
- Indeed: this has a huge amount of job listings. It’s a good idea to turn on notifications to get emails sent to your inbox whenever a new job is posted. There are many more websites like Indeed, such as Total Jobs, Reed and Gov.uk.
- LinkedIn: here you can create a profile, add your qualifications and experience, and connect with past employers, colleagues and potential future employers
- Specific employers: if there’s specific companies you’d like to work for, check their website for new job listings. If they’re not currently hiring, you can always send them an email with your CV to reach out and ask them to hold onto it incase of future opportunities
- Recruitment agencies: these act as a middleman between you and the employer. These trained professionals will help to match you up to jobs that are appropriate for you. Youth Employment UK has a really useful article all about recruitement agencies.
Whatever stage of education you are at, I would urge you to consider applying for an internship. It will teach you a huge amount about both the industry and yourself, and will give you the confidence to go out into the big scary world of work! Good luck.