This second part of this internships series gives advice on how to secure an internship, how to flourish once you’re there and what to take from the experience. Part one can be found here.
Getting your foot in the door:
The direct approach - Research companies in your industry, create a list of companies that you’d like to work with and email them directly. Here are a few pointers to make sure you stand out from the crowd:
Make it personal – Before you send an email to “Dear Sir/Madam” call the company and get the name of the person responsible for hiring interns.
Be passionate – tell them why you want to work in this sector, what you love about their company and what skills you can bring to the role.
Sell your skills – Attach your CV, and if you’re a creative, provide a link to your online portfolio
Introductions work wonders – Ask your lecturers, friends or contacts if they know anyone who works at the company you are interested in. This is where networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, and The Loop come in handy, as 6 degrees of separation are often more like 3! You’re more likely to get through to the right person if there’s some form of connection.
* University – If you are at university ask if they have an internship program. If they don’t, lobby for one!
* Job Board: You can find internship roles on sites like Pedestrian, Australian Infront and The Loop.
Getting the most out of your internship:
Know what you want to do and be passionate – This will help your employer tailor the internship so you get the most out of the role, enthusiasm is highly contagious.
Build key relationships - Identify which person in the office that you aspire to be like in 5 years and buddy up to them. When I was interning for MTV I was placed in an uninspiring department. However, I quickly got chatting to someone in my dream department and asked if I could help with anything outside office hours. I then worked my socks off from 9am-5pm in the then current role and stayed late to work on the fun stuff. The contacts I made while working on the fun stuff are still in my life today, 10 years on.
Make yourself indispensable - Take on every task with open arms and ask for more if you have down time. In the end they might just offer you a full time gig.
Be a sponge – You’re there to learn so lap it up. There’s nothing worst than an intern that thinks they know it all, and if you do, then don’t take an internship, start your own company.
Be lovely to everyone – Unfortunately not everyone out there is nice, but don’t make enemies, they can last a lifetime.
Be professional – Be respectful to everyone, ask permission from your manager to go on lunch or to leave the office and most importantly don’t chat away on your phone or jump on Facebook…. Even if it’s what your boss does!
Take it on the chin and get on with it – You’re not going to love all of the tasks that are given to you, unfortunately that’s the reality of work but be enthusiastic about everything, work hard and always wear a smile. The more you jump to every task, the more you’ll get to work on the fun stuff.
Be part of the conversation - Don’t be afraid to ask questions, contribute, and sell your work. Talent only takes you so far, being passionate and a real contributor will take you the whole nine yards. There’s always a fine line between passion and arrogance, so learn to get a feel for how people react to your suggestions and adjust accordingly.
Make the most out of it!
Since starting The Loop I’ve had a fantastic stream of interns come through our doors. To be honest, being a start-up company means the interns have been instrumental in keeping the cogs running smoothly. It’s been an honour to watch them fly the nest and go onto some incredible roles. I never thought I’d get as much out of the experience as I have, not only have they helped with the day-to-day stuff, but also they’ve invigorated the office with fresh ideas and enthusiasm.
Sam, Ashley, Jess, Kitty , Stef, Tailah, Theo, Josh & Katy… I salute you!
Oh and a special thanks to the wonderful Leanne Rule, formerly at Billy Blue College of Design, and Sophie Adams, at AIMIA. Both these lovely ladies run internship programs for their respective institutions and were lovely enough to let me chew their ears off.