Whichever industry you choose, an internship is usually the best way to put one foot on the ladder after graduation. This is usually a low-paying job, and sometimes you will find yourself working for free; making coffees or running errands for people in high places. But it’s all about experience, and this type of location will give you that first window into your chosen field.
While an internship will look great on your CV, it will also allow you to ‘try’ working for a company in your chosen industry, giving you an idea of what the future position may hold. But remember, in addition to being an invaluable experience for you, it is also an opportunity to show potential employers what you can do.
You should treat your internship as an extended interview. It is important to make a good impression from the beginning. Securing a position with a reputable company is not an easy task, even if it is unpaid. There are likely to be hundreds of applicants, all with similar qualifications to yours, so it is important that you stand out if you are going to have the opportunity.
This means getting started with your application. Remember, your cover letter is the first thing a potential employer will see (even before your CV), so the pressure is to make a great first impression and put yourself above other candidates. You can interview well, but you also need to look good on paper to get through the initial application stage.
First, spend some time studying other successful cover letters to get an idea of what employers are looking for. It is useful if you can access applications relevant to your chosen industry, or even geared towards the organization you are applying to work for. You can ask family or friends who work in the field for advice, or you can search online.
There are a wealth of resources online to help candidates with job applications, but you may need to dig deep to find the ones that are relevant to you. The best way to do this is by doing a Google search. If you are applying for an internship at a bank, for example, try searching for “cover letter for an internship in finance” and see what you find.
There are websites created for this very purpose, but you may have to pay a small fee to gain access to the information you need. This is usually a small investment and is worth the investment. In this way, you will gain invaluable access to insider knowledge of the industry you are applying to work in, and perhaps even the exact organization.
These platforms will allow you to communicate with people who have been in your place, but now have successful jobs in the industry. Their tips are an incredibly helpful tool and can be used to help you target certain employers and make the best impression.
Take note of the layout and format of the cover letters you see – all these little details will make a big impression on an employer and could make the difference between your application being top of the pile or ending unread.
Major organizations will receive hundreds, if not thousands, of applications, and they may not have time to read all of them, so presentation is important.
If you are unsure of your spelling or literacy skills, why not ask a friend or family member to review your application? Alternatively, you can find a professional online to do it for a small fee. These investments are worth making if you want to be taken seriously in your cover letter.