An internship is essentially the stepping stone to your future career. But just how likely can you find one that really makes an impact?
With a hefty amount of assignments and exams, students often find themselves getting bogged down during their internship search process. From identifying a suitable position to choosing the perfect employer, it can get very competitive and the odds might not be in your favour.
Read this guide to get ahead of the game and land your dream internship!
Internship search: Where to start?
You can visit the career development centre on your campus to get instant consultation on internship placement. However, it’s not where you work that matters, it’s more important to evaluate what the job can contribute to your professional development. Which is why you should lay out a career plan and define specific goals ahead of the intern season, ideally after you’ve chosen your major.
However, don’t be stressed out if you haven’t had everything figured out yet. It is absolutely normal to feel lost in the career jungle. No one can really fathom what a dream job should be at such an early stage in life. An internship program is designed to help you gain exposure to almost all areas of work, so you’ll be able to realise your true passion by the time you graduate.
Try to get advice from your professors to map out all the potential career paths that match your field of study as well as your talent. You can also get in touch with your university alumnus to learn more about their employers and ask for recommendations. This is also an opportune time for you to practice your networking skills.
Choosing an internship program is not the single decision that will shape your career forever. You don’t have to restrict yourself to apply for any specific position just because it is recommended by others or because of the employer’s reputation. Give yourself a chance to explore as many options as possible in order to have a bigger picture of the chosen industry.
And regardless of which company that you are interested in, make sure to send in the application on time to win the internship hunt arsenal.
Work on your resume and cover letter
A quick Google search will instantly show you a plethora of sample resumes and cover letters for all types of occupations. However, it’s not that simple when it comes to preparing your first job application as a student. You will need to add relevant information to make up for the absence of the employment field.
First things first, what are the differences between a resume and a cover letter (or CV)?
To put it simply, a resume is a summary of your professional information in bullet points, whereas a cover letter has no restricted format and is used to convey a story that reflects your personalities as well as your suitability for the job.
Some candidates consider the content of their email applications as CVs. However, do take note of the actual requirements from the employers to make sure that you submit the right application format. Sometimes, a CV is required to gauge your writing skills too.
A rule of thumb is to keep both your resume and CV relevant to the position and the company profile. The only way to grab the recruiter’s attention in a brief minute is to speak to them personally.
Here is a sample structure that will help you draft your resume:
Address | Phone number | Email
Pro tip: Putting firstname.lastname@example.org in your resume is not cool. An acceptable email address should include your (real) name, consider dropping the number if possible.
Institution name – Major
Awards or Achievements
Part-time Courses / Certifications – Subject
Awards or Achievements
Pro tip: A survey by internships.com has shown that recruiters prioritise an intern’s skills, experiences, and interview result over academic performance. So specify the project(s) that you handled which showcase all the relevant skills for the job.
Work / Volunteer Experience
Organisation – Designation
Pro tip: As mentioned above, you need to start preparing for your internship as early as possible. During the first few semesters, you can already start seeking a part-time or volunteer position on your campus. Be it to assist in the library or to organise a student club, anything that helps you to develop soft skills will be beneficial for your future career.
Skills that you acquire from your work experience
Pro tip: You don’t need to mention all the subjects that you have completed during your study to fill in this space. Here are the top skills that all recruiters look for: communications, writing, leadership, organisational, and multitasking skills.
The next step is to craft a killer cover letter that will complete your application.
After you’ve done your homework (read: research on the company and the hiring position), it’s time to share your personal story and how it impacts your decision to apply for that particular job. Don’t just sprinkle your CV with cliches and redundant information, treat it as an asset that will boost your application success.
A powerful CV should be able to convince the recruiter that you are the one, for them, both professionally and personally. Anyone knows the importance of promoting their skills and knowledge, but only a few consider sharing their interest in the company.
Don’t squander your chance to create a strong connection with the potential employer from the beginning. Your CV should explain why you apply for the company and what the company can benefit from your contribution. You can refer to the job descriptions but don’t be afraid to go beyond that. Tell your audience what do you expect from the internship and how would you achieve the mutual goals.
Pro tip: As you research on the company, try to find out the person who you should address your letter to.
Ace your internship interview
Most interviewers will assess your skills based on the previous university projects unless you have other work experiences under your belt. Depending on the job function, the questions can either be knowledge-based or behavioural-based. Remember that the key question is whether or not you make a good fit for the team, so don’t follow a script to navigate your answers.
Run through the job descriptions over and over to make sure you know what you are in for. At the same time, ask yourself these questions:
- What does the company do? If there’s something that excites you, bring it up during the interview!
- Is there any industry terms that you’re not familiar with? Refresh your knowledge to make sure you won’t be caught off guard.
- What skills in particular that you expect to improve from interning at this position? Set your goals and development plan as a guide to choosing the right employer.
- What makes you different? Think of the personal traits that directly affect your behaviours at work, only positive ones of course.
An internship interview doesn’t have to be stressful. Take it as a chance to explore your career aspirations as you speak with the industry experts. Think positive!
Explore internship programs in Malaysia
If you are on an internship search, you’ve landed at the right place. There are plenty of companies hiring interns on Jobstore right now!