It’s that time of the year again - students all over India are looking out for summer internships. A meaningful internship experience can help you launch your career. An internship provides you with a chance to develop your professional skills while helping you hone your personality. To give you an example, let me recount you the story of 20-year-old Prajakta. A design student, she did her first summer internship when she was in her first year of graduation. By the time she was in her third year she had interned with four different organisations. Today, she heads the design team at a leading startup.
Before you make an internship the boarding pass for your dreams, however, here are few tips for you to keep in mind:
1. Follow your passion
Build your career around your interest. Students, in general, apply for internships without analysing their area of interest. If you have a passion, follow it and do an internship in that field. Apply to internships which match the best with your profile. If you are good at writing, do a content writing internship. If you like travelling and photography, intern with a travel portal. You can explore your career options through internships. Finding the right internship may take some time so start applying early and you will eventually find an opportunity matching your skills and interests.
2. A professional resume is the key to an internship
Your resume can take you places. Human resources (HR) managers shortlist candidates on the basis of their resume and application. Don’t go overboard and use fancy fonts. Keep the content crisp and follow a minimalist design.
Mention any leadership experience you have taken up in college and arrange it in reverse chronological order, update your academic details, mention your skills, and give the links of your projects.
3. Sharpen your skills
New technologies are evolving in every field. Learn relevant skills and give an edge to your profile. If programming interests you, then follow the latest technology news and blogs. If you are interested in marketing, go beyond the basics and attend webinars on analytics, email marketing, and everything in between.
At the same time, brush up your communication skills. Organisations prefer interns with great ‘soft’ skills. Gain command of English – if written applications and cover letters can help you secure an interview, your speaking ability will help you convert that interview to an internship opportunity. In fact, your writing and speaking skills will help you sail smoothly in your professional life too. From writing emails and preparing reports to explaining a product to the client, it is going to come handy.
4. Ready yourself for the interview
Read thoroughly about the company you are interviewing with. Find what it’s currently involved with, especially when it comes to your area of interest. It will help you to establish a better connect with the interviewer. Prepare open-ended questions. Right from ‘Why should we hire you?’ to questions on your strengths, weaknesses and skills. This will help an employer get a better understanding of you.
5. The follow-up note
You might get excited and want to know how you have done in the interview. But do not keep sending a trail of emails to HR. Wait for a week or so and drop an email to the interviewer if you don’t get an immediate response.
Converting an interview into an internship opportunity is difficult but once you have done that, don’t take it easy! Working in an organisation comes with responsibilities and you have to keep few things in mind-
1. The importance of time
Follow the rule of ‘On time, every time’. It’s essential and professional to be punctual and most companies care about it.
Also, ensure that you stick to deadlines. You would have delayed submitting a report to your lecturer but the delay at an organisation can cost the company and your career a lot. So follow the deadlines diligently.
2. Shoulder responsibilities
Take up new initiatives and participate in existing projects. Contribute your skills and time and you would get to learn a lot more. Share ideas, discuss thoughts and give solutions – make yourself count. Take opportunities which come your way so that you can gain a wider perspective and broad experience.
3. Start networking
Networking means building contacts and maintaining professional relationships. In today’s world, it is essential to build a strong network in your industry space. Interact with people outside your immediate team and you will end up sharing ideas and learning more. This will help you develop your ‘people skills’.
4. Seek constant feedback
‘Feedback’ is essentially a constructive way to help you work and learn better. You might have blind spots when it comes to your work and feedback will help you grow.
You will feel the heat of competition this summer. To beat that, set goals and plan ahead. Choose from the plethora of opportunities and find internships that match your profile. Your summer internship will give you – your first stipend, a first-hand work experience, broader perspective, and great exposure.
The author is founder of internshala.com - an internship and training portal.