Internships are valuable professional experiences for students. They can help students develop the skills necessary for their chosen fields, make industry connections and learn to navigate professional settings. However, internship opportunities can be competitive, so it's important to be properly prepared when applying for internship programs. Here are five tips to get ready for an internship.
Learn To Negotiate
No matter what industry you're planning to intern in, negotiation is an invaluable skill. It's not just something people use to make business or legal agreements. You should seek negotiation training before beginning an internship so you're better prepared to build strong professional relationships, establish boundaries and collaborate on projects.
Learning to negotiate can help you practice asking for flex time or time off if you need it and teach you how to ask for help or guidance without looking like you're floundering. You can also use negotiation skills to discuss taking on more responsibilities if you think you can or seeking help if you feel overwhelmed.
Practice Good Time Management
Another vital professional skill is time management. Being on time for your interview and providing timely responses to phone calls and emails can make your application more appealing. You must be able to show you're capable of completing assignments by or before deadlines and that you'll communicate regularly with colleagues and arrive at meetings on time.
Good time management shows your internship manager you're responsible and take your assignments seriously. However, if you ever feel you need more time, be sure to ask for assistance or an extension. Don't try to rush your work or cover up issues. Owning up to mistakes or roadblocks is just as important a skill as punctuality.
Develop Your Application Materials
Before anything else, you need to put together your application materials. Most commonly, these materials include a cover letter, a list of references and a resume or CV. The cover letter should be addressed to the company to which you're applying or to the company's internship manager. Its contents should include your knowledge of and interest in the company, your reasons for wanting the role and your applicable skills.
Because an internship is often a means of building professional experience, you may not think you have enough material to put on a resume, but there are alternative options. Include relevant academic courses. For example, if you're seeking a marketing internship, list any relevant business and marketing courses you've taken. You should also include scholarships, awards, extracurricular activities and skills you feel are relevant.
Practice for the Interview
The final step of seeking an internship is usually the interview, and there are several things you can do to prepare for it. Interviews can be nerve-wracking, so don't be afraid to ask friends or family to help you prepare, discuss common interview situations with your guidance counselor and go to mock interviews for practice.
Check the address where the interview will take place and make sure you know how to get to the location. If you can, find out ahead of time where you're supposed to check in or where you're supposed to go after you arrive. Rehearse your elevator pitch and answers to common interview questions beforehand. Appearance and presentation are important factors, too. Make sure you dress in business professional attire, even if you know the company to which you're applying has a more casual culture. Avoid flashy and distracting accessories.
While internships are vehicles to advance your networking opportunities, networking can also help you find internships. It helps you meet professionals in fields you're interested in, learn more about those fields and find information on internship opportunities. There are many networking methods, including social media sites like LinkedIn, career fairs and connections via recruiters or guidance counselors.
Internships can be great opportunities to develop vital professional skills and learn from people who work in the industry you're interested in. If you have the opportunity to participate in an internship, preparing as much as you can beforehand can give you a competitive edge.