internship application tips

March 21, 2018, by Carla Froggatt

How I Successfully Applied for a Summer Internship

By Daniel Adams, final-year philosophy student

During my second year at university I felt I should get an internship over the summer. This was for several reasons. I was aware of the growing importance of having relevant experience to complement my degree. The PR industry was alien to me and I wanted to familiarise myself with it. Finally, the prospect of having some extra money for my final year was also very appealing!

The Careers and Employability Service alerted me to an opening for an intern writer at Bulletin, a local communications consultancy specialising in finance. Along with a CV and covering letter, I was asked to submit a piece of writing. Rather than use something I had previously written, I decided to write an article about digital currencies. I wanted to show I had a strong interest in finance and how the industry might change in the future, which I feel strongly helped me get through to the interview stage.

Soon after I found out I’d been shortlisted, and was invited to a group interview with three other applicants.

The interview process

The first stage of the interview was an informal lunch with the candidates and most of the staff. This was a good opportunity to show an interest in the work everyone did and demonstrate enthusiasm for the role.

Following lunch I took part in a writing workshop with the rest of the candidates. It was quite fast-paced, which caused me to make a careless mistake, but overall I performed okay. Reacting well to criticism and showing a desire to learn more was particularly important. I was surprised how much I enjoyed the process, and I learned a lot about content writing just from that workshop. Even if they hadn’t offered me the position, I would’ve been glad I attended.

As part of the workshop, they assessed our CVs and written submissions. I would strongly suggest booking a CV review through My Career, and triple-checking your application for any grammatical errors — employers take this seriously as it is such a basic thing to get right.

The interview ended with a pint at a nearby pub, which by that time I was very grateful for.

Reflecting on the interview

Looking back on the day, I can see that they were concentrated on finding out what we were like as people and if we suited their company ethos. There was less focus on our academic achievements. In fact, they later said that they chose me because I demonstrated a greater interest in the role and financial PR, despite other candidates being impressive academically.

Knowing a bit about the company history, their clients and staff definitely helped me on the day. I would advise taking a look the the company website and social media pages. Companies usually have a set of values; for example, Bulletin’s are ‘clarity, spark and truth’. Demonstrating your knowledge is really important. It shows you did some research and are specifically interested in them.

What was the internship like?

Although I had read lots about what to expect on a placement, there is definitely no substitute for experience. Some of the most valuable skills I learned were multitasking effectively and adapting to unfamiliar tasks quickly. I also made lots of connections that may be helpful in the future. Getting on well with my colleagues also made it a lot easier to enjoy work and settle in quickly. I learned a lot from talking to people about their work and experiences in PR.

Taking part in the Nottingham Internship Scheme boosted my confidence, and I feel significantly more prepared for my graduate job hunt.

This year’s summer vacancies have just gone live, but check out them out soon as you need to apply by the 22 April. You can also attend one of several workshops prior to applying to help you make the very best application. The scheme is quite competitive, so it’s definitely worth getting some advice from one of our expert team.

You can view all of the current vacancies here.

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