Maximising your internship experience
When I first arrived in Melbourne to start my degree in 2019, I was determined to get an internship within my first semester. So, in addition to studying and adjusting to a new environment, I was also applying for any internship openings that I could find. Many people tend to underestimate internship opportunities without understanding that internships are an important tool to grow our professional lives.
Author: Vania Octaviani
Photo by Bach Tran
There are many benefits that you can reap from an internship experience as well because it allows you to:
1. Explore your interests;
2. Test the working environment;
3. Build a connection with industry practitioners;
4. Get involved in the hands-on learning experience;
5. And shoot up your employability rate
However, internships can also be competitive these days, especially when you are aiming for the top and established companies. So, just like any other jobs, rejection is prevalent in the application process. But do not fret about it! Based on my own flavourful experiences with internships, I can share the dos and don’ts for you to have a better experience.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO BEFORE APPLYING:
- Do your research
When you are applying for a company, it is essential to at least have a basic understanding of what they do. At the peak of the digital age, it is easy to find any information on the internet. Check the company’s website to find out their vision and mission, values, and previous works. This may also assist you in writing a more personalised cover letter! It is also commendable for you to address the contact person by their full name and position in the company. Head to LinkedIn to find out and get that brownie point!
- Write a personalised cover letter
In job applications, a cover letter is a window to understand you a little more. I find it especially important for applicants with no experience to attach a cover letter in their application. Without a long list of experiences, a cover letter is how the employers learn your personality, interests, and skills. It is where you get to tell your story and potentially win the employers’ hearts! You should also note the importance of crafting a customised cover letter for different applications. It shows that you are thoughtful, dedicated, and clearly interested in the hiring company.
- Curate a presentable portfolio
Evidence of dedication to your field is an excellent boost for your application, especially for those working in the creative sector. Many employers would ask for samples of your work, and in this situation, you want to have something on your hand. It is a risk to make the employers wait while you craft something presentable, and it is difficult to create something overnight unless you are an expert (I’ve tried this, and safe to say that I didn’t get the gig). Developing a portfolio is also a way for you to exercise your craft, and it doesn’t have to be of super high quality as long as it shows your potentials. In an interview with an event company for a social media internship, the interviewers pointed out how much they loved the amateur makeup tutorials I had posted on my Instagram account. That was when I knew that I would get an offer from them.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I GET A CALL:
- Prepare well for the interview
Receiving the invitation for an interview is always so thrilling, especially after you have sent out countless applications. But, remember that it is not the end goal! Even if you identify as someone who just wings it on the spot, always prepare before you go for an interview. Have another read through the role requirements. Take another look at the company details. List out your skills and experiences and highlight the ones that are applicable for the role. I would also recommend you to ask questions because it shows that you are genuinely interested in the company. An interview can be a nerve-wracking experience. So, you will only need to deal with your nerve when you have learned all the speculative questions.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON’T HEAR BACK:
- Reflect on your application
It can be disheartening when you don’t hear back from an employer, but many factors influence their decision. You can always reflect on your previous applications. Review your resume and cover letter before you start another application and pinpoint what you can tweak in there. If you need guidance, iDibs offers cover letter and resume review services for international students, which you can access on https://idibs.it/services/perks/free-services/drake-resume-check#loaded.
- Have a positive mental attitude & just keep swimming
As cliché as it gets, things always fall into place at the right time. You may not get the exact results that you want, but don’t let that stop your development as a professional. For example, I applied to a photo studio for a marketing internship in my first year, and I never heard back from them. Six months later, I sent them a much more refined application with more experiences under my belt, and I received a response from them. Other times, you may only hear back from companies that may not interest you so much. But regardless of the company, an internship is always full of learning experiences. So, never underestimate any learning experience, no matter how small or big. Alternatively, you can also be proactive and reach out to employers first. Sometimes, companies do not post a direct advertisement on job boards, but they offer potential internship opportunities on their websites. You can always send them an email to express your interest.
At iDibs, we are helping international students to find internship opportunities in Australia. Head to https://idibs.it/services/jobready/internship and check some of the internship programs that we have!