Internships are engulfed in mystery. They come in a variety of forms and each one is usually totally different to the next one. Graduates and students that get themselves on internship programmes are set miles apart from the competition in terms of experience, passion for the industry and commitment to learning more about the sector. Internships are one of the best ways to show you are serious about pursuing a career in a field and even better way of providing experience alongside that. The question remains though: is this one right for me? There are a few questions that you need to ask when you see one advertised:
- Is it a programme? There is a difference between an internship programme and an internship opportunity. Some companies run internships as casual affairs and do not provide any structure. While others are regimented, well oiled machines providing all the best opportunities.
- Is it paid? Unpaid internships are illegal, however the laws surrounding unpaid internships is murky and applicants need to watch out that they are not being exploited.
- How long does it last? When applying, you should look out for how long the company want to take you on for. This could range from a couple of weeks to several months over a summer period.
Finding out the answers to these questions will obviously vary the amount you will get out of the internship, but no experience is bad experience. You can learn and move on, or alter your career aims.
2. Hound people
Have an idea of what you want to do for a career? Well take steps towards it. Get out there talking to the people who can give you the opportunities in those areas. Whether it be PR managers, Magazine Editors or Media Strategists, find their email addresses and find out if they've got any opportunities for work shadowing or if you can spend time in their office to learn a few things. This has worked for me in the past and I've managed to secure myself on internships and work experience which has led onto other internship and work experience opportunities.
Tips for grabbing their attention:1. Keep the email snappy - These people are usually busy people so don't waste their time.
2. Give them a "call to action" - Give them something to do at the end, whether you ask them some questions or propose something to them beyond "Have you got any work experience going?" 3. Offer them a beer - This one worked for me and allowed me to meet an top editor at a national newspaper and learn loads from them in a short space of time.
If no one is giving you the opportunities - Do it yourself. While this one is sector specific and might not relate to everyone's ambitions for a career, think whether you need an established company to show you the ropes. Most of the time students and graduates already have the skills to perform their particular role but just need the opportunity, but if there are certain fields you want to go in, there's plenty you can do off your own back, without having to battle for the golden internship or work experience ticket. Blogging is often an overlooked means to show employers what you can do and show off your potential.
Wanna work in Finance? Set up a blog looking at Financial markets and giving your opinion on the movers and shakers in the field, with your own tips and advice that you would provide.
Wanna work in Advertising? Review the latest adverts with your critique of where they can be improved or what you might have done differently. Alternatively, create your own proposals for products you like or products that you feel are being let down by their current campaigns.
Wanna work in Journalism? Write, write and write. This is the advice I have been given from all the professional journalists I've met and a blog is an excellent, easily accessible way to show your flair and turn of phrase.
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