A 2014 LinkedIn study asked students what they value most when considering a job. The results show that students value work/life balance most, closely followed by benefits, company culture, clear career progression, and a sense of pride about where you work (as fifth out of five). An SME is the best place to experience this kind of culture. But how do you get an internship there?
Research the different industries you are interested in – a useful tool to do that is the graduate weapons series, which breaks down each industry and what you need to know about working there. While researching ask yourself: What kind of SME do I want to work at? What aligns with my values? What experience will help me in my career?
Compile a list of the top SMEs you would like an internship at. Look beyond job listings and study success stories – find out how they started their career, so you can get ideas on how to start yours (LinkedIn is ideal for this).
Tailor your CV and cover letter to every application (to help you perfect your CV here is a graduate CV checklist). Use statistics and be specific when selling your skillset and personality on paper. You won’t make it to the interview stage with a generic application.
Use social media to make yourself known to the SME – using LinkedIn and Twitter to interact with hiring managers can be very effective.
In your application and interviews show your personality, your passions, and why you are the best intern for the job. Be confident, listen well, and answer the questions thoughtfully. Give a firm handshake, and make sure you dress appropriately for the company – some SMEs prefer a more casual dress code.
Utilise a Recruitment Agency
A recruiter is a free tool that connects you with great companies who are otherwise inaccessible. Approaching a recruiter not only gets you in touch with work opportunities not listed online, it can also be a much quicker process to get an internship. Many SMEs trust recruiters with shortlisting the best candidates for their needs, rather than doing the recruiting themselves.
Inspiring Interns is a graduate recruitment agency connecting talented graduates with top companies and start-up businesses in the UK, specialising in paid internships with the potential to go permanent.