First things first, do you need experience to land an internship? Luckily, the answer is “no.” Most employers don’t expect you to have professional work experience when you’re applying for internships.
However, that doesn’t mean you can send in a blank resume and call it a day! While you might not need formal job experience in your chosen field, you still need to show that you
- are serious about the company and role
- have got the potential to succeed.
- are able to thrive in the professional world.
… and the more real-world experiences you have to show these things, the better!
1. Show you’re serious about the company and the role
Make sure you know enough about what the company does, how they do it, and who they do it for.
You might also want to look up the company and ask your interviewer some questions about what you read online or the organisations’ current projects or their values and mission as an organisation.
If you don’t have relevant experience, it helps to at least show that you’re serious and not just applying on a whim!
2. Show that you’re passionate about the industry
Find hands-on ways to demonstrate your passion like participating in business case competitions (like Cole’s Industry Hackathon or Pitchfest) or student clubs.
You might also like to post to LinkedIn, join industry-related clubs or attend workshops and seminars to develop your knowledge. La Trobe has heaps of these available to students throughout the academic year.
3. Get to know recruiters
It might seem a little daunting, but attending industry events and career expos is an awesome way to meet recruiters. You can also connect with them online and send them a message expressing your interest in the company.
Recruiters get hundreds, if not thousands, of applications. So meeting them in person and staying in touch can help them put a face, passion and personality to your application and help you stand out from the crowd. Check out What’s happening in Employability for more.
4. Highlight relevant projects
If you’ve done any relevant projects that showcase your skills, don’t be shy about bringing them up in interviews and job applications!
One of the biggest concerns recruiters have when hiring students is the uncertainty about whether you can translate the skills you’ve learned into the real world. Working on projects shows that you can do just that!
Projects demonstrate that you didn’t just take classes (which almost anyone can do), you care enough to work on your skills in your own time. Whether it’s a community event you organised or a personal blog you write, these experiences can set you apart from other candidates and provide real examples of your capabilities.
5. Outline your enthusiasm to learn, and learn quickly!
Provide examples of how you’ve adapted to new challenges, learnt a new skill or improved a process.
After your interview you could also ask for feedback. For example, you could say something like “This is one of my first times interviewing. Would you be able to provide any honest feedback or thoughts on how I did? I’d really appreciate your insights for my own personal development reasons!”
6. Showcase your soft skills
Think about what soft skills the role requires. (Hint: The job description is a good place to start).
Use specific examples to demonstrate how you’ve applied these skills in the past. For example, if you’re trying to show you’ve got teamwork skills, don’t just say you were on a sports team, share an anecdote about being a team player.
It is totally ok to draw from your experiences working part-time jobs, student clubs, or volunteer activities as long as they help you make a convincing case for your soft skills.
7. Show that you can get things done
Whenever you bring up an experience, focus on showing how you “got things done”, highlighting not just the tasks you performed but the impact you had.
Another way to think about this is to focus on achievements that are unique to you. For example, if you worked a retail job during uni, you can bring it up in your application but don’t dwell on your day-to-day tasks (“I stocked shelves and operated the cash register”). Instead, mention how you boosted sales (e.g. “Recognized as Top Salesperson of the Quarter for consistently exceeding sales targets by 20%”).
In the world of working professionals, you’ll always be measured by your ability to get things done and contribute to their organisation. Focusing on specific achievements allows you to present yourself as a capable and results-driven individual.
Explore similar articles on our career portal.
Check out What’s happening in Employability for more internship resources and opportunities.