How to get a graduate internship in London
When you graduate, you might find it difficult to get a job. The truth is that university is far more popular than it has ever been (even with the rise in tuition fees) meaning the competition for graduate jobs, and even graduate internships, is high.
Suddenly a good degree from a top university might not mean as much, when the next candidate also has a few years of relevant experience under their belt. The cycle of applying to jobs that you feel qualified for, only to miss out on the placement by a millimetre, can often be disheartening to bright graduates.
The reality is that sometimes you need to boost your CV to get a full-time graduate job – particularly if the industry you are aiming for is extremely competitive. One way to do this is to seek out graduate internships relevant to the job applications that you have been sending out. Easier said than done! Graduate internships can also be very popular, so you will need to be one step ahead to find something.
Why do an internship?
Internships can be any length, from one week to 6 months! Some are part-time and some are full-time, so it is up to you to decide what would be best for you. Internships should always be paid, so keep that in consideration when looking up roles to apply to.
They are especially good for graduates that are uncertain about the type of job they want to do as a career. If you studied something that doesn’t offer a clear career path, then internships are the perfect way to dip your toes in and see how you feel about a role before committing totally. You might find that you were wrong about the industry altogether, or you may just realise that a slightly different role within a company would be more suited. Either way, you will still have great experience to put on your CV and a clearer direction to aim for in your next role.
There is a more recent phenomenon of online internships gaining in popularity. These virtual internships allow you the flexibility of working from home connected via Skype, Slack or some other arrangement. Some prefer this way of working because it means you can fit the work around other things, but you miss out on the numerous benefits of being around others that are more experienced in the industry.
Where can you find an internship?
For a graduate internship, you will be able to find opportunities in the same places that you would find graduate jobs. Online job sites are the first port of call, particularly ones that specialise in graduates (such as BrighterBox) or internship websites. You will cut out a lot of timewasting if you use sites that advertise at your experience level, as you won’t be scrolling through hundreds of irrelevant postings. If you really want to speed up the process, then consider using a dedicated intern recruitment agency to give you a leg up. Recruiters will look at your experience and be able to weigh up where you might be best suited. Recruiters are a great way to get to the forefront of a company’s mind, as they will have contacts that can fast-track your application if you are particularly good for a position.
The alternative route to scoring an internship is by going directly to a company that you admire. Do your research and create a list of companies that you would love to work for. Write them down even if they aren’t hiring (and it looks like they are never hiring). Once you have your list, get in contact with someone high up in the company by doing some careful online stalking and send over your CV and a cover letter. Even if they thought they weren’t looking for an intern, you might be able to nudge them at the right moment and sway their thinking. Be specific in what you can offer the company, so that their decision to get in contact with you is a no brainer – when it comes to time-poor startups, you want to be making the process as simple as possible on your end.
Internships should be seen as a stepping stone. You don’t want to be stuck interning forever, so if you manage to get one, make sure you squeeze it for all it’s worth. Be that person who turns up early and is at every social event. Add your co-workers on LinkedIn and make yourself known around the office – keep asking for work that is meaningful and you will soon be seen as someone who is proactive and worth having around. The benefit of this is that you might be offered a fulltime roll once your internship ends, or at a later date, when they are hiring.
Once you complete your internship you should take the time to write down your reflections on the experience. It is easy to put this off and assume you will remember everything, but in a few months’ time you will struggle to remember your day-to-day activities. If you keep a log of what you have learnt, then you can use it when you need to prep for your next interview. Internships are supposed to be valuable, so don’t take it lightly.