Internships are exhausting. Arguably more mentally drained and definitely more emotionally tired than full-time employees, interns have a permanent list of (internalised) complaints.
That said, you would be foolish to finish a university degree without any professional experience.
Internships give you the opportunity to ask stupid questions (your primary school teacher lied), learn what you love and hate about your field, and work in some of Australia’s finest companies.
Plus they open doors to that elusive goal: a full-time job.
So how do you go about snagging a plum placement and turning it into a valuable career step?
Make sure your public profile is picture perfect
If you’ve still got awkward drunken photos on Facebook, it’s time to let go. Make sure your email address is appropriate, your LinkedIn profile polished and any other online presences are well groomed.
If you still have your firstname.lastname@example.org mailbox, it’s time to take a long look at your public profiles.
Give your cover letter a makeover
You’ve picked out a handful of companies you’d love to intern at; some of them might be looking for interns, others may not.
Either way you need to make every cover letter you send company-specific, because if you’re not willing to put in a few hours of research now, you’re probably going to regret committing to a three-month stint of the stuff.
Accept that serious stalking is sometimes necessary
This is particularly applicable if the company you’re gunning for isn’t looking for an intern. Do some in-depth research, find something you can actively contribute to the business and use this as the pitch in your cover letter.
Finding the right person to contact may require a bit of Google digging. If you can, avoid sending your application to the company’s generic email address.
And then a highly appropriate amount of nagging
Keywords being “appropriate” and “nagging”. They’re busy people and so are you (or at least pretend to be), so flick them a follow up email every week or so.
If a couple weeks go by and there’s not so much as a flutter of activity on their side, there’s nothing wrong with giving them a call. Remember that we’re aiming for respectable persistence, not childish whining.
Once you have an internship, be enthusiastic and friendly
Every day. Even if you’re repeating the same task as yesterday and feel like launching your computer into a wall, on the outside you should be puking rainbows and happiness.
A lot of businesses will let you work on the tasks you want to work on, but only after you’ve finished a good amount of grunt work. Your experience is far less important than your enthusiasm during an internship, since it’s the latter you’ll be remembered for.
Be clear about your goals
Whether it’s the opportunity for an interview or a letter of recommendation, be clear about what you want prior to finishing an internship. You should try to sit down with your internship coordinator or boss well before your last day to discuss this.
And then keep in touch
Whether that’s a coffee a month or the occasional email, keep in touch with the business as much as possible. Then, if an opportunity arises, hopefully they’ll think of you.