6 Things you MUST do before applying to internships or graduate schemes.
With applications for internships and graduate schemes opening up soon, it may seem like they are not something to worry about right now. However, as cliche as it sounds, the early bird catches the worm.
Here is a list of things you can do before applying for internships and graduate schemes to maximise your chances of securing your dream role!
1. Start applying early
Many internships and graduate schemes accept candidates on a rolling basis. This means that from the first assessment centre they host, offers will be given out which can result in all positions being filled before the application deadline.
Most schemes give offers to as many people as they want from a particular assessment centre – this can mean 0 candidates or even all candidates can receive an offer. Therefore, it is in your best interest to apply early.
For most university courses, work tends to build up as the term continues, so getting applications out of the way will allow you to focus on your course later in the term.
Begin tailoring your CV and cover letter for each role if you have free time so they are ready before applications open.
2. Be organised
Before applying for internships, I researched all the schemes I wanted to apply to and made a list. This list contained the application process for each role and their deadlines.
I also updated this list with what stages I had completed so far. Every company will have a different application process – some may require a cover letter, others would rather have you answer specific questions. So ensure you research their process before preparing.
This list allowed me to stay organised with my applications so I did not miss any deadlines and remembered to apply for each role.
When managing several applications it can be confusing to track your progress so make sure to stay organised – a spreadsheet can be helpful!
It is also a good idea to note down what each stage was like, for example, any role-specific questions you answered for your application or what was discussed in the phone interview. You can use this information later in the assessment centre or as a reference if you decide to apply to the same company again.
3. Do your homework about what companies to apply for
It is easy to apply for the same companies every student applies to just because it is the “norm”. However, this does not have to be the case. Many companies offer internships in roles you may be interested in that you may not think of. For example, ASOS hires technology interns!
There are also more start-ups and smaller businesses which are hiring interns and graduates. There are various benefits to working for smaller companies such as having more exposure to the business.
It is recommended to apply to a range of companies as to when you attend their assessment centre, you may realise you prefer a company over another due to reasons such as culture and company size.
Additionally, ensure that the role you want to apply for is what you expect.
Different companies may have roles with the same name but have different tasks you may be working on, so it is important to know what you are applying for. Do not be afraid to ask your interviewer or HR more about this.
There are different methods of doing your homework such as getting in touch with alumni who may work at the company through LinkedIn or attending career fairs on your campus to explore other businesses. There are various online resources such as Target Jobs who list companies you may not have thought of applying to.
4. Start preparing for each stage
Many internships and graduate schemes have several stages to their application process such as submitting your CV, taking tests and completing video interviews. Preparing for each stage will get you closer to receiving an offer early.
Ensure you tailor your CV and cover letter for each role. It is also a great idea to get them checked by someone – this can be someone at your university’s careers network.
However, it is important to remember that CV’s are subjective, what one person may think is “right” does not mean it is true for everyone. Remember to do your research and not to solely rely on one person’s experience.
Practice taking tests once you know what tests are most likely to appear in your application processes such as numerical reasoning tests or coding tests.
There are many websites which host practice tests so you can get used to the style of questions, especially since they are usually under a time limit.
Find mock interview events being hosted on your campus or elsewhere. This can help improve your interview skills so you are ready when you get an invitation to one!
5. Develop your web presence
Due to the technical era we are living in, it is no surprise that employers may search you on the internet to find out more about you. You should focus on developing your web presence to display your skills.
LinkedIn is a social network developed to make professional connections. It allows you to display your achievements on your profile and get in touch with professionals in your industry. Make sure to add professionals you meet in person on LinkedIn so you can stay in touch.
Building your network is one of the best things you can do to develop your career as it allows you to hear about new opportunities and to also promote what you are doing.
Also, it is not unheard of employers getting in touch with students by messaging them directly to apply for their company.
Additionally, there are other ways of developing your web presence by either building an online portfolio of your work or creating a blog! You can add a link to this on your CV so employers can gain more of an insight into what you have done in more detail.
Whilst it may seem like a lot of work, it is great to set up as once everything is online, it is low maintenance to look after and to add new information.
During my interview at BT, my interviewer brought up my website and how much it had impressed him that I went through the extra effort of creating one.
Of course, a personal portfolio may not be relevant to you as it is usually a way for students from project-based and creative degrees to display their work. Therefore, it is not essential to have one.
Furthermore, remember to cleanse any negative web presence you may have by looking through old accounts and googling your name. Ensure your personal social media accounts are set to private.
6. Find out what help is available for you
Make sure to research into what schemes exist to help you. For example, your university may host career fairs or company-specific events on campus – these are great opportunities to network with individuals within companies.
They can give you more advice about how to improve your application and answer any queries you have about the role.
In past career fairs, I have walked away with personal business cards of manager’s before!
Some events may be hosted outside of your university.
For example, Target Job’s host many networking events – I have previously attended “IT’s not just for the boys” which greatly helped me with networking with other women in the industry – you can read about my experience about it here.
STEM Women is also a great networking resource for women in STEM which I have attended before. Another scheme is SEO London who prepare students from an ethnic minority or low socioeconomic backgrounds with their careers.
There are also mentoring schemes available too where you can receive guidance from recent graduates or more senior workers. The number of networking events running is unlimited if you search for them.
I am also offering free 1-1 consultations for any career guidance that you may need – please get in touch with me via LinkedIn if you are interested.
Finally, with internships and graduate scheme applications, it is important to just start.
Do not procrastinate and leave them till too late – your first application is always the most daunting and it gets much easier after!
Remember, the person looking at your application was once a student too.
Applying for jobs is a marathon, not a sprint – do not give up hope if you fall at the first hurdle, just pick yourself back up and carry on!
If you do secure an internship and it is running virtually, then make sure to check out this blog post on how to ace your virtual internship.
If you have more free time than usual and would like to improve your career prospects further, then be sure to check out this one.
Share this blog post with your peers if it has helped you so you can help them too – they may return the favour and share something to help you! Follow @sabeekablogs on Instagram to keep up to date on new posts.