However, in competitive job markets like finance, media and politics, having a good internship on your CV can give you a huge advantage when it comes time to apply for your first real job.
There’s no doubt that some internships are more worthwhile than others, so how do you go about selecting the right one, and once you've found it, how do you make sure you get it?
How will an internship help you’re career?
Completing an internship during your studies will help your future career in a lot of ways. Firstly, it shows that you’re serious enough about your intended profession to seek out extra work during your time off, and secondly it shows you’re hard working and dedicated.
The next most important thing that you’ll get out of an internship is experience. Any prospective employer will tell you that you can have all the qualifications in the world, but there’s simply no substitute for real, hands-on experience.
You’ll get to see what working in your chosen industry is really like, meet the people who are already doing it and hopefully make some great contacts for the future. All of which will give you a big leg-up on the career ladder.
If you’re looking for a career in top financial institutions, an internship is invaluable
How to choose an employer
There are plenty of different companies and institutions that offer internships, and it may be tempting to take the first one that you’re offered, however the quality of the internship will have a big impact on its value and on the amount that you get out of it. If you’re looking for an internship in the financial sector, make a list of the companies that you’d really like to work for in the future. Remember, this could be a real foot in the door for you, so select wisely.
Most financial institutions will have established internship programs, and it might be possible to contact people who have already completed it. Ask them for information on what you can expect and whether they found it beneficial in the long run.
When to do an internship
When you do your internship will depend on your college or University timetable and the requirements of the company you'll be working for. A lot of internships run during the summer break, but it might also be possible to do one day a week or even weekends.
How to get an internship
Finding an internship that you want to do and then securing it are two different things.
There’s always going to be a lot of competition for the top companies, so be prepared to work hard even before you've got an interview.Many institutions have an online application form to fill out rather than a number to call. So start by filling this in and submitting it to them.
If you can, try to find out the name of the person at the company that is responsible for recruiting interns and send them a personal email, this will help them to remember your name and give you a better shot at getting the job.
Doing an internship will help you to make contacts and meet influential people
The amount that you’ll get paid for an internship will vary widely between companies, with some only covering the cost of your travel and lunch money and others paying enough to live on and even to save.
Don’t be afraid to ask about payment in the interview or initial recruitment stages. After all, if you’re applying to a financial institution or related business, money is an important subject.
If you’re hoping to enter a career in finance or any other competitive industry, undertaking an internship during your studies will prove invaluable.
It may not seem like much fun at the time, especially when you’re friends are out enjoying the summer, but when it comes time for your first job application, you’ll be head and shoulders above the rest.