Three months off during the summer? I hope you’re going to get an internship!

Are you in your penultimate year or perhaps earlier?

Have you been hit with questions like this from a “well-meaning” friend or relative?

There’s no doubt it can be extremely useful to get an internship. Lots of major graduate recruiters use summer internships as a two to three month interview, and more and more interns are being offered jobs which start after graduation. This can ease your stress levels in final year! If this appeals to you then our Internship Hub is obviously the first place to look, but there are other sources of great summer opportunities.

That said, sometimes those “helpful” interventions from family and friends can be anything but uplifting and encouraging – especially if they mention a friend or relative who had that internship with IBM, is coasting to a 2.1 in Theoretical Physics, and has accepted a lucrative offer with IBM in Software Engineering! They’re probably called Kevin!

However, what if you’re not yet sure what you want to do, and you don’t know what internship to apply for? Now, no Careers Manager isn’t going to encourage you to exploring ideas and try to become a bit for focussed career-wise, certainly not me. That said, here are a few things that you might be able to the nay-sayers, or even Kevin himself!

I have a part-time job which also gives me summer work, and I don’t want to give this up

Graduate recruiters keep telling me that one of the biggest mistakes applicants make is underestimating what they’ve done. If you work in a bar and work well with your team members, deal effectively with some challenging customers and work quickly and accurately, then graduate recruiters want to hear your stories on you applications and at interview. If you work in a shop and are efficient and accurate at stock taking and give good customer service, then again, employers want to hear about instances when you’ve shown these abilities.

I’m going on a field trip with my course in the summer.

So you’re going on a Geography field trip to Majorca, or an Earth Science field trip to Mull (not much difference!). You’ll be able to explain how you researched into local human geographical issues or geologically mapped an area and devised its geological history. You’ll be able to show how you collected and analysed data, drew conclusions and presented these. You might be able to show how you got the best out of your team-mates and encouraged them.

I’m going to Africa to help teach English in the summer.

Employers will be impressed with your organisational and planning skills when you tell them how you planned lessons and delivered them. They’ll be interested in your creativity when you adapted your materials as you learned more about your students. They’ll be keen to hear how you learned about different cultures and showed respect for them. They’ll also want to know more about what motivated you to do this and how you overcame any challenges, such as funding or logistics.

I’ve got a research opportunity in my school.

You might just love Physics and have arranged to do some research over the summer in a particular area of interest. Employers will be interested to hear how you organised your time, negotiated with your supervisor about the work you did and planned this effectively. They’ll want to know what your research achieved, and how you reported and presented this.

I have caring responsibilities at home and can’t commit to an internship.

Employers understand that some people’s personal circumstances make it very difficult to commit to an internship. They’ll want to know how you managed to find time to study. They’ll want to hear about your caring tasks, and how maintained your motivation and morale to achieve academically. They’ll be impressed with how you managed to pursue your extracurricular interests to any extent.

So, an internship is a great thing, but there are lots of other ways to convince an employer that you have what it takes to be a successful employee. Go for it!

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