An internship is a test drive that helps you discover your true calling

  • Sarvesh Agrawal, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 22, 2016 18:16 IST
A goodinternship can change your life and it is worth the efforts to find one. (Shutterstock)

It is that time of the year again. The summer break is approaching and students all over India are gearing up for internships. And why shouldn’t they? An internship is one of the most exciting times of your life. Interns deal with the real world and see how the theory learned in the classroom gets applied in practice. You pick up soft skills that an academic curriculum can’t teach. You make new friends, hopefully get to explore a new city, and even earn a stipend – in short, live life like a grown-up!

What’s more, an internship acts like a test drive for you to discover your true passion and make a more informed choice about your eventual career path.

Let’s look at five things that you should keep in mind before your start hunting for your dream internship.

Clarity of thought: While it is okay to be a little confused about all the different options available, but narrowing your choices down to two or three broad areas of interest would help. You can do so by talking to your teachers and seniors, reading online about different profiles and actual work that happens in them, taking help from career counsellors etc.

A professional resume: An internship is perhaps the first time you would be making a resume but that shouldn’t be the reason to why it can’t be a great resume. A professional resume makes a positive first impression and improves your chances of being called for the interview. Making a resume is really easy now as there are hundreds of free resume makers available on the internet who can automatically take care of design and layout for you.

Read more | 11% of job seekers have discrepancy in their resumes: Report

Acquire relevant skills: Competition is really high for good internships and hence a candidate who has superior skills is better equipped to land that dream internship. Once you are clear on what kind of internship you want, find out what skills are needed in those internships and develop those. For example, a web programming internship may require you to know PHP. A design/marketing internship may require candidates to know Photoshop – with thousands of free resources available online, you can easily learn these skills and build a portfolio that will give you an edge over other applicants.

Research the target company well: Go through its website and social media pages on Facebook and Twitter. Understand key details such as what business the company is in, how big it is (revenue and employee strength), who are the key people in the organisation; and if the company has been in news recently. Also, you may find interviews or stories of people who have interned with this company in the past. This research will not only help you make a better application and do well in the interviews, but also give you insights on the actual work you will be expected to do, the work environment, and the company culture.

Always follow up on your application: So you skill yourself up, make a neat resume, write a great application, send it to the HR of the company and wait for them to respond. What if they don’t? Most of the students would leave it at that and start applying elsewhere. However, it is always advisable to send a follow up request to check on your application status after one week of your original application. Often, due to genuine reasons, your application may have been overlooked and a reminder email may help the company find your application. A follow-up also shows that you are genuinely interested in the internship with that company and increases your chances of selection.

A meaningful internship can indeed change your life and it is worth the efforts to find one. Good news is that the sooner you start, the easier it will be. Start today!

Internship opportunities for students (ISTOCK)

The author is founder & CEO of Internshala – an internship portal connecting students and companies

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