How to make applying for an internship worthwhile

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Internships can be a brilliant way of picking up skills, making contacts and boosting your chances of getting a job, yet many are wasted. James Pulford explains the best way to pick and apply for an internship and how to use your time well when you get there

A Summer internship gives students a taste of the working world and employers a chance to spot new talent. To make the most of your experience, it’s vital to get it right, and this means choosing one that is best for you, making sure you apply for an internship correctly and then jumping at every opportunity that comes your way.

Choose your internship carefully

Remember, your internship will only be worthwhile if you can show your future employer solid examples of the skills you have acquired. Try to work out the exact nature of the experience on offer, including the role and responsibilities.

A politely worded email is one way of doing this, and it means you can be sure you fit with the firm. If it doesn’t look worthwhile, consider somewhere else. Bear in mind that it is better to have honed your skills with a small company than to have made tea at a big one.

The benefits of doing real tasks and acquiring new skills are invaluable and it may be more beneficial in the long run to intern at a small firm that will give you real responsibility, recognise your work and maybe even provide a reward. Even if they can’t offer you a job at the end they may know someone who can, and the competition is likely to be less fierce than with larger firms.

Apply for an internship: make yourself the perfect candidate

When you apply, show a personal interest in the history and image of the company and let them know you are aware of their work. It’s a given that you will have a flair for finance and a knack for numbers, so try to think about how exactly you match their brief and what makes you stand out from your peers.

Does your Friday night five-a-side game show you are a team player capable of working in a supporting role? Great, let them know. Bring the skills that are unique to you to the forefront of your application and show you have the edge.

Useful resources to help you with your internship application

Websites like Employment 4 Students and StudentJob list vacancies nationwide, whilst it is also worth looking at specific employers, such as Ernst & Young and PwC, who have their own internship programmes.

Maintain your motivation by applying for work you are genuinely interested in, reading up on the job requirements before you apply, and researching the company itself. Don’t forget to watch videos by AAT’s career coach, Aimee Bateman, for tips for applying and attending interviews.

Making the most of your internship

Remember that an internship is a great way to gain hands-on experience, but it’s down to you to make the most of it. Try to create a good impression from the moment you arrive.

Make yourself known for the right reasons and be friendly, courteous and polite. Think of ways you can become truly indispensible – if ‘never say no’ is your mantra you will do well.

Ensure you have enough time to complete each task you are given to the best of your ability, and take an interest in your work. It’s important to show you can use your initiative, but, if you are genuinely stuck, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

You are there to learn, after all, and it’s important to get it right. Finally, take pleasure in your work – if others see you enjoying it they are more likely to want you to stay.

The opportunity doesn’t stop at the end of your internship

It is the end of your internship and you have done everything that has been asked of you. What now? Ask for more. This will demonstrate your enthusiasm and may win you some temporary paid work.

Ready to find and apply for an internship? Don’t forget to watch videos by AAT’s career coach, Aimee Bateman, for tips on applying and attending interviews.

James Pulford is a former writer for AAT Comment.

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