When it comes to internships, students tend to only apply to those companies they would be interested in working for. If a particular student is picky, they may pass on 8 out of every 10 opportunities. They put all their efforts into the two of them and hope they get hired.
I'm here to tell you that you should apply to all internship opportunities you come across. In our example, you would apply to 10 out of 10 internships. Why? There are two major reasons that we will dive into.
Why Internships Are Important
First, it’s important to understand why internships are important to your career.
Internships are the bridge between university and a real full-time job.
Employers want to hire candidates that have relevant professional experience. If you want to become an accountant, you're going to need an accounting internship. A job as a pizza delivery person isn't going to cut it.
Compare Camp shared that “Employers identify internship experience as a differentiator when choosing between two equally qualified applicants.”
You can find internship opportunities from many sources. Examples include:
- Your campus career centre
- The professors of your classes
- Online career platforms like LinkedIn and Indeed
- Direct from a company’s "careers" section on their website
- From connections through family and friends
You should be active and on the lookout for internships in your field of work. Whenever you find one, submit an application, even if it's not a position you want.
The 2 Major Reasons You Should Apply To All Internship Opportunities
There are 2 major reasons that you should apply to any internship you can:
- Your application skills will improve.
- Your interviewing skills will improve.
Whether you know it or not, both applying and interviewing are two of the most important professional skills you can have.
What typically stands in the way between an individual and their dream job? Getting hired. What leads to someone getting hired? The application and interviews.
1. Your application skills will improve.
In what ways will your application skills improve?
You learn how to read job descriptions
Reading a job description is the first step in the application process. Therefore, it's critical to do it properly.
The job posting is a company's way of telling you exactly what they are looking for. You can strategize by ensuring your resume and application reflect what the company wants.
If the posting asks for "Microsoft Excel skills," then you better find a way to put that on your resume. If it asks for "exceptional leadership skills," demonstrate how you have been a leader in your cover letter.
Writing cover letters becomes a breeze
Speaking of cover letters, when you apply to a lot of internships, you naturally produce a large volume of cover letters. Cover letters are probably the most tedious and dreaded part of the application process.
Well, get used to them. Research from Resume Lab found that 83% of HR professionals say cover letters are important for their hiring decision.
Once you write a few, you will get the hang of it. You'll be able to write cover letters faster, and with less effort. As you apply, you'll see overlap between positions. With a portfolio of previously written letters, you can copy and paste pieces of each for any future cover letters you have to write.
Overall speed to submit an application increases
With improved skill and efficiency, the overall speed that you submit applications will improve dramatically. If you are confident that you can quickly apply to an opportunity, you are going to be more likely to follow through.
Many students out there let opportunities pass them by because they aren't willing to put in the time to submit applications. Since you aren't like these lazy individuals, you'll be able to seize any opportunity.
2. Your interviewing skills will improve.
The interview is the biggest make-or-break moment on the path to an internship or full-time position. It is an art and a science. By applying and seeking out interviews, your skills will improve in several ways.
Your answers become more honed and fluid
As you get your reps in with numerous interviews, you'll begin to see how similar they all are. The companies and industries may differ, but the interview questions tend to be the same. Questions you are almost certain to get, in one form or another, include:
- Walk us through your resume.
- What makes you a good fit for this position?
- Why do you want to work for (insert firm)?
- Where do you see your career in five years?
With each interview, you'll answer these questions and learn what went well and what went poorly. Your answers in every subsequent interview will be refined, honed, and come out more fluid.
Understanding what your interviewers want to hear
Knowing what your interviewers want to hear is related to strategically reading the job posting. If you studied the job description, you'll know what the interviewers are looking for.
As they ask you certain questions, it may remind you of something you have read. For example, an interviewer might ask, "How are your Excel skills?"
This jogs your memory about how the job description asked for candidates with Excel experience. Now you know that you should elaborate deeply during your response in the interview.
The more interviews you do, the easier it will become to read the minds of your interviewers.
Your preparation for interviews will become more efficient
Going through interview preparation and practice is an effortful process. You have to learn about the position, the company, and the industry.
You have to anticipate what interview questions you'll get and you’ll have to craft effective answers. For the first several interviews you go through, this can take a week or two to complete.
Down the line, your process will improve and you will know what to do and what not to do. You’ll reach a point where you can fully prepare for a new interview in a matter of days.
You get over the fear and anxiety of interviewing
Interviewing is stressful for a few reasons, mainly:
- You are young and inexperienced compared to those who will be asking you questions.
- You feel imposter syndrome set in with intimidation from your interviewers and the environment you are interviewing in.
- Your career depends on your ability to get hired.
- You have a general fear of this form of public speaking.
The way to overcome a fear is to expose yourself to the fear as much as you can. Over time, you become comfortable. It's the same thing with interviewing.
As you take on one interview after another, your confidence will grow and the anxiety you feel during interviews will subside.
What Does This All Lead To?
Great. Your skills for applying and interviewing improve over time. So what? What does this all lead to?
The consistent practice and refining are preparing you for the most pivotal point in launching your career: your dream job opportunity.
As you make your way through university, you'll begin to realize what your dream job is. You'll know the specific role, the city, the industry, and the company you want to work for. There will come a time when you have the opportunity to apply and interview.
For those who are unprepared, the magnitude of the moment can be overwhelming. This is do-or-die for them. If they don't do well, they don't know what their backup plan is.
For you, who has been applying and interviewing countless times, this is just another day. You are confident in how you submit your application. Once you receive an invitation to interview (as you knew you would), you go into the interviewing process comfortable that you will perform.
You give off an aura of confidence and conviction. You hear what the interviewers are asking and deliver the answer they are looking for. You completely know your resume and background and present yourself in the best light possible.
THIS is why you took advantage of applying to all those internships. You did it to eventually land the job of your dreams.
What Happens If You Get Hired For a Job You Don't Want?
This is a question you have probably been asking yourself the entire time you have been reading this post. What happens if I get an offer for an internship that I don't really want?
Well, it's simple: decline it. There are thousands of companies out there and hundreds of thousands of candidates that apply to work for them. It is not uncommon for companies to offer a candidate and have them deny it. According to Glassdoor, over 1 in 6 job offers are rejected.
You'll have to get used to respectfully declining offers because as you go through more applications and interviews, you're success rate of receiving offers will increase.
Internships are the gateway to your dream career. They will transform you from a university student into a working professional. While you are in school, you should take advantage of all the internship opportunities you encounter for your field of work.
You may not even want most of the positions, but you should want the practice it can offer you. View each application and interview process as training. You are training those two skills for when you really need it most: when pursuing your dream job.
When a dream job opportunity presents itself, your skills in submitting applications will land you an interview. Then, your excellent interviewing skills will land you a job offer.
Brandon Hill is the creator of Bizness Professionals, a resource to current or aspiring young professionals for well-rounded growth and career development. Outside of his blog, he continues to work in the field of finance.
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