The Art of Interning

by Nicki Wilson, Genie Managing Director


Employers want to see skill, dedication, and experience but most importantly potential employees who were tactical in their decision making when it comes to their career choices. Whether you are a graduate, an established professional wanting to switch careers or even someone re-entering the workforce, interning is a great way to learn…on the job! It’s also a great chance to meet contacts, learn how to conduct yourself in a professional environment and to stand out against the crowd.


If you are undecided on which avenue you want to go down it is also a great way to try out different areas, industries and can help narrow down your options as well as open up new career paths.

Gone are the days of only unpaid internships and a stigmatism that it is only for youngsters. We see interns in all different phases of life, and it can be a great way to enter a new industry. The bulk of internships are still aimed at students, graduates and candidates looking to jump onto the career ladder, but it does not mean that they are the only opportunities available.


Employers do not always advertise internships, sometimes they might not have even thought about taking on interns so the best way to get your foot in the door is to simply… reach out! I know as an employer if someone showed enthusiasm and a real desire to come on board it would pique my interest in them too.


Be proactive!


Research companies you feel you could gain knowledge from and find the decision makers. A well written email or message to the management speculatively trying to open a door for an internship is one of the best ways to get one. If the message also includes some facts about the business, a story about why you would be the perfect candidate or if you compliment recent activity the company has been involved with it will help you stand out and show you did your research too. Show initiative and enthusiasm, and you might get noticed for the right reasons. There are also advertised internships via job boards, LinkedIn and company websites.


According to Monster.com, 85% of companies use internships to recruit for full-time roles, with former interns projected to fill 37% of graduate vacancies.


Many times, it’s a way to experience and show adaptability to a business but in turn the employer benefits from extra hands, a new take on things and more often than not a trial of a potential future employee.


So, how do you land that internship if you don’t have any previous work experience?


You can list examples of volunteering, involvement in student clubs and any extracurricular activities you have been involved in. Recruiters want to see you have gone above and beyond and have the drive to acquire skills to become a great asset for a company. Often reading about student’s experience working in family businesses or an achievement they have had in a school project is also worth highlighting. For more experienced professionals, try highlighting in a cover letter or introductory email, why you are enthused about interning and why you would be a great asset to that company will truly add value.


Conducting yourself professionally when you have landed the opportunity will also reap rewards. A huge number of employers would hire the intern or past interns over new candidates for a permanent role if they had shown skill and eagerness in the position. It’s a bit like a try before you buy! In addition, your boss or colleagues may also recommend you to other companies where they believe your skills could contribute well too.


The Do’s:

  • Have objectives

  • Be punctual

  • Show willingness

  • Listen!

  • Complete all tasks given to you before the end of the day


Don’t:

  • Be afraid to ask questions

  • Twiddle your thumbs if you have completed a task

  • Create a bad impression, even if your internship doesn’t turn out the way you had hoped

  • Overstep your boundaries

  • Get distracted by social media on the job!!


Once you have completed an internship, it’s a good idea to write a thank you letter or request a reference letter. This shows appreciation for the internship opportunity, gratitude to those who helped you and leaves a good impression with the company who took you. In exchange you may also have a ready-to-go recommendation of your work!


Standing out against the competition can be challenging in a market full of candidates qualified on paper for a range of roles. This is where the art of interning can really set you a part from the rest!