Internships

 

What are they?

An internship is an opportunity to join a company, which specialises in the area you wish to pursue a career in. Internships are usually short, around 3 – 6 months and unlike grad schemes and other jobs you do not need years of experience to get one.

Will they help me?

Yes!!! Doing an internship will allow you to see if you really like marketing or finance or which ever field you want to get into. It is also brilliant content that you can put on your CV, it allows you to gain experience in the professional world and gives you something to speak about at interviews.

Are there lots of internships available?

You will find internships advertised EVERYWHERE!! From specialist job sites to company websites, even twitter and Facebook posts, there are loads going – what there aren’t loads of are paid internships. Unfortunately not everyone is in a position to not work for 3months and have no income, I would suggest to try and do an internship whilst you are at university, or see if you can get a few weeks work experience. Or do what I have done – work for a few months and save so that you are in a position to put yourself through an internship.

There is a lot of debate surrounding, whether employers should be paying interns and yes, ethically and politically they probably should. However, at the moment it is an unfortunate fact of life that most internships are voluntary – which we just have to accept and do it – think of it as an investment in your future.

Competition!

Just because internships are unpaid does not mean you will walk into one. They are still competitive, you still have to put in a strong application and CV, and you will still have to get through various rounds of interviews. Just like any other jobs make sure your CV is perfect – no generic CVs or cover letters!!

Many final words of advice is do not be scared to approach companies – if there isn’t an internship advertised why not ask if you work for free – I can guarantee you wont be the only asking – be assertive and get interning!

CV Tips

This week I have taken on more responsibility with my internship, as the business I am working for is expanding and has taken on more clients. This is providing me with the opportunity to gain some excellent business experience. I will get the opportunity to do my own client work as well as dealing with the accounts and doing some business planning.

However before I can get my teeth into those new projects I have been given the task of taking on two new volunteers. Last week I advertised for the positions and went through the applications I have received and invited some candidates to interview. Taking on new staff has been a new experience for me and has taught me a lot.

The opportunity to look at other peoples CVs and applications has been very interesting. Unlike when you edit your own CV, an employer has to take a critical eye and pick out errors and reasons why a candidate is unsuitable, it has been a worthwhile exercise for me and is now something that I will be able to do for my own CV. Additionally, when interviewing I noticed again how critical an interviewer has to be, they have set answers they want to hear and skills they would like you to have. After all I have learnt this week I thought I would do a series of blogs to share my experiences. This week will be about CV tips and next week I will write about interview techniques.

As far as your CV there are so many things you can do. Firstly, remember that it is a marketing tool allowing you to sell yourself, which you must take advantage of. If you are applying for a job in a creative profession then make sure your CV is creative. You should be using publishing programs such as Adobe Illustrator, Indesign, Quark or even pay to have a graphic designer do it for you. Some of these tips may seem simple but so many people are not fulfilling the basic CV criteria. Check your spelling and grammar and get someone else to check it for you, make sure you put down all your contact information as well as LinkedIn and any websites you have or contribute to.

There are set sections which you should include for a professional CV, you should start with a profile, defining who you are what you have achieved and your career goals. It is also recommended that you list your skills as well as IT experience. Make sure you put down all your qualifications, where you studied, what grades you achieved and outline key modules. For work experience, make it relevant, do not just list every job you have done. State your role and explain what it entailed and how the skills you gained are transferable. You may also want to write about your hobbies, this makes your CV more personably but it should only be a small section.

Another key things to remember is that your CV should be around two pages long and should be well formatted. You should also change your CV every time you apply for a job, a generic CV looks lazy and complacent, rewrite things so it fits the job you are applying for. These tips are simple but from experience many people are not using them, employers receive stacks of applications and if yours does not stand out it, you will not make the cut!

Expand your networks!

I have now been interning for a month and again this week I have gained so much and learnt so many new things. I would say that the key thing which I have gained from this week is the importance of networking, so that is what I am going to write about in this blog.

As a recent graduate, attempting to join the professional world, I am finding that the saying ‘it’s not what you know it’s who you know’ is becoming more and more true.  Many graduates are lucky enough to have relatives or family friends who can help them out to gain contacts to push their careers forward, unfortunately I don’t have that luxury so I am finding networking as my way in.

So what is networking? Networking is connecting to relevant people through people you already know or actively seeking out those who can assist your career path. The first step would be to speak to the people you work with, ask if they know anyone who could help or advice you, or maybe give you some work experience. Another method would be to get our self out there, look for organised networking events in your area or go along to any local event and get chatting to people, the more people you meet the more contacts you will make.

As I noted in a previous blog I have been doing some work for the National Trust, through which I am getting to meet many professionals who were once graduates and now work in their chosen profession. This week I got the opportunity to speak to an events coordinator, who gave me some really good advice and told me all about his experiences after finishing University. He confirmed how important it is to push yourself forward, grab every opportunity and take every piece of advice you are given; do not be afraid of coming across pushy. You will find that many professionals know what you are going through as they have been in your position. They may be able to give you some advice or work experience or put you in contact with people they know who may be able to help you out.

Another key networking tool is Linkedin. Many graduates see Linkedin as a lonely place, it is a professional social networking site and they are yet to make professional contacts. Firstly, add all your friends, family and colleagues and then when you do meet a professional contact, just be cheeky and ask them if you can add them on Linkedin. Then their contacts can see you, and you will begin to create your own network.

The key to networking is confidence, know your own abilities and don’t be scared to tell people that you are good at what you do. Whether it is in person or on through LinkedIn, if you personally cannot showcase your talents then it does not instill much confidence in an employer to take you on, or for a contact to recommend you.

Why is social media key to career success?

The Internet is ever growing and many aspects of our lives rely upon it, businesses could not function without it and socially we rely on it to connect with friends, naturally the internet has also made its mark on our careers.

Specifically, social media is becoming a key tool for career success, having a strong online profile is becoming ever more important for getting the job you want. This weeks blog will look at the key forms of social media and why it may make or break your career.

Why Social Media?

I have now been interning in marketing for three weeks, it has given me a real insight and led me to the realisation that to get the career you want you need to market yourself and get yourself known, the easiest way to do so is through social media.

Linkedin

LinkedIn was created as a social networking site for those with a professional occupation, such that it allows the individual to make and stay connected with business contacts. It allows you to create a professional profile, much like an online CV, which is visible to employers. LinkedIn allows you to virtually network by connecting with people you already know and making new connections, it is also used to advertise jobs.

It is the perfect way to get networking, start making connections and get your name known, as often LinkedIn is used by businesses to headhunt.

Facebook

Facebook is not as important for helping your career and getting the job you want however it may be the reason that you are struggling to get an interview. Facebook was created for University students and is the perfect tool to connect with friends, make arrangements and share photos from your favorite nights out. However as soon as you become a graduate Facebook can become your enemy.

There are hundreds of graduates going for the same job and employers are looking for new ways to distinguish between them. Employers do not want to see you dressed as a smurf or posts about how incredible last night was, they want to see your professional image. As soon as you graduate put your privacy settings on maximum security and un-tag yourself from any compromising photos, you do not want to miss out on your dream job because of a silly photo from freshers.

Twitter

Twitter is the middle ground between LinkedIn and Facebook as it allows you to portray a more personal side to you. The people or companies you are following, as well as what you are tweeting about, shows your personality and highlights your hobbies and interests whilst remaining professional.

The option to write a bio about yourself allows you to explain what you do and link blogs and websites you have or write for. Twitter allows you to connect on a personal level with future employers, you can use twitter to make contacts, get advice and often jobs are advertised through tweets. Communicating with employers by tweeting them or commenting on things they tweet about gets your name known. Doing so will increase your followers and allows you to use twitter to network.

Social media allows graduates to network for free and from the comfort of their home. If used correctly social media will improve your career prospects and help your job search.

Improve your employability !!


This week I thought I’d write a blog about what I am doing to improve my employability. So first and foremost I am interning at a marketing company but there are a few other things that I am doing as well. One of which is that I am working as a Digital media volunteer for the National Trust. So I though I would explain a little about that, what I do there and why and how I got the position.

As many graduates are aware it is no longer enough to have a good degree from a good university, that you need a strong CV with professional experience and examples of things you are involved in. I was active at University, gaining positions as course representative and Vice President of a society as well as many employed positions, but it is vital that you continue this once you have left University.

I have to say I did jump on the back of the Olympics volunteering euphoria and in my quest to do my bit, I found a role going at a newly opened National Trust property as a Digital Media volunteer. After applying and getting to interview, I was offered the position. I work at the property one day a week and also do work from home. My role is to run the social media sites for the property as well as the website.

Such a position provides the perfect opportunity to get real hands on experience, it offers training but also the ability to try out many aspects of the career world. As it is a volunteer position I have really been thrown in at the deep end. The website is my responsibility so I have to research and write articles, spending hours in the archives looking for information, but also designating articles to others and editing their work. I have had to learn how to web design and photo edit and comply with copy write laws. As well as this, it has pushed me to learn all about the new forms of social media and constantly keep up to date with the ever changing virtual world.

Another great thing about volunteering is meeting new people, it is really important to network, the more people you know the more opportunities that arise and the more experience you gain. Volunteering for the National Trust has really given me the freedom to get real invaluable experience that will help me progress through my career. I would recommend it as a perfect way to enhance your CV.

From a Student to a Marketing Intern !!

Following my graduation from Nottingham University in July I knew I had some big decisions to make about my future. Should I go back and do a Masters? Where was I going to end up living? What job was I going to end up doing? Where should I even start?

I had spent three of the best years of my life at University, I studied Politics and American Studies, which I can whole-heartedly say I loved, but was I ready to enter the cut throat world or Politics or up sticks and move to the US? The simple answer was no!!

I spent the summer working on summer schools in Nottingham and weighing up my options before I finally returned home to York. Although a Masters was tempting, as I loved University, the workload from third year had put me off. I had written a Dissertation on China’s Military and studied modules about Nuclear weapons and the History of the Vietnam War, it was heavy going to say the least and I just could not face any more essays. So work it was – but what did I want to do?

I spend some time researching and looked at the skills I had gained in previous jobs and elected positions I had held and finally settled on Marketing and PR. Then I hit another stumbling block. I lived in York and all the marketing jobs were in London and many would  not accept an application from me as a was a Politics graduate!! What should I do!?!?!

I few months earlier (whilst waiting at the hairdressers) I had read an article by the editor of an well accomplished fashion magazine. The article was about her time in New York, and how it had shown her that the British are too conscious about selling themselves and being proud of their skills and achievements. This advice stuck with me, I though that if I wanted a job in Marketing I best Market myself. So I did!! I put myself out there, I was confident and assertive and very quickly landed a job as a Marketing Intern.

So here we are now, I have just finished my first week and I have already learnt so much. I have spent the week learning how to use social media for business and have even started a BTEC in Marketing. I will post every week about my experiences, what I am learning and doing. Hopefully this will allow others to see how I am finding my way into the world of work after University and can offer guidance to those trying to do the same.