Anyone who went to university in Australia knows that it’s a wee bit of a joke.
You turn 18, finish school and you’re all excited to begin ‘adulting’. The reality is that you probably still live at home and let your mum fold your underpants OR your parents have to continuously transfer you money for substantial food but (jks) you spend it on Mi Goreng and 10 goon sacks #priorities.
University days are rife with beer bong challenges, textbooks you read once that cost more than your monthly rent, questionably written essays and at least one good ol’ fashioned walk of shame (there’s nothing quite as life-affirming as creeping back to your dorm minus pants as they were stuck under your suitors backside and you didn’t want to wake him and be faced with the awkward art of post-coital small talk).
As you near the end of your university ‘career’ (a bit of a joke calling it a career really, given you wake up at 10 and wear last night’s eyeshadow to lectures on the reg), most courses will have an internship as a pre-requisite to completing your degree.
Further to being a mandatory (and crucial) part of many courses, internships are one of the most important things you can do to learn, network and increase your chances of being placed in a highly-coveted company or role.
So firstly, how do you GET an internship!?
Think of companies you want to work for and put your networking feelers out for contacts. If you don’t have a contact just send your expression of interest off to the information email address with your CV and a tailored cover letter included.
- Despite the age-old advice to ‘ask the manager for a coffee’, don’t bother! CEOs and managers are EXTREMELY busy and barely have time to sift through their emails per day, let alone have coffee with every keen millennial. Harsh but true. You’re much better off sending a bomb cover letter.
- Speaking of cover letters, for the love of all that is caffeine, PLEASE ensure you send off something that is clear and concise. Check your grammar and spelling 3 times and if possible have a friend check it too. Nothing will make someone flick past your email quicker than a common error in your first sentence.
- Persist by sending a follow-up email but only one, they did get it and one chase is considered keen, any more and you’re entering the annoying arena.
- Ensure your online profile is solid and skeleton free. Make sure anything too personal (like the pics of you at a festival off your chops) are private.
So now you’ve got one, how do you ace it and most importantly… what the HELL DO YOU WEAR!?
I’m going to make this easy by just listing what to do and what definitely NOT to do at an internship.
Most importantly, use your common sense and don’t for one moment feel like you’re doing the company a favour by working free of charge. A company is spending time and resources to train you, trust me when I tell you that
YOU’RE the lucky one. Be willing. Be grateful. Absorb as much as you possibly can and I promise you’ll learn more in 3-months than your 3-year degree.
What to do…
- Be punctual. Showing up late insinuates that you don’t respect the company or your internship. If you’re running late always let them know via text and apologise profusely.
- Do everything with a smile, even if it’s fetching someone’s coffee or packing parcels. You’re helping someone in a prominent position and they’ll remember your attitude.
- Dress for the job. Don’t wear ripped jeans to an internship at a bank and by the same token, don’t wear a serious pantsuit to your internship at a creative ad agency. Google the company, gauge the culture prior, and dress accordingly. Check out our range of women’s workwear for inspo.
- Go above and beyond. If the company is going through a busy time, offer to come in additional days and stay back willingly. Grab your busy boss some lunch without her asking and show initiative by working on ideas you think will benefit the company.
- Ask questions! Don’t be afraid to ask something and never assume the correct answer. Businesses would far prefer a ‘stupid question’ rather than you wasting your time doing something incorrectly.
What not to do…
- Chuck a sickie. An internship is just like a paid job in that people will be relying on you to do work that day. Obviously don’t come in if you’re really sick but we can generally tell if you’re faking it (i.e. calling in sick on a Monday when you were tagged at Manly Wharf Bar on Sunday looking absolutely trolleyed with a giant pint in front of you).
- Give anyone ‘tude. If this is the industry you want to be in you need to be positive, willing and hard-working to stand out. These people could be your potential colleagues; treat them with respect.
- Play on your phone all day. If you haven’t got anything to do ASK or SHOW INITIATIVE by creating a job for yourself. Nothing looks worse to a potential employer than someone snapchatting and playing ‘Words With Friends’ all day.
Finally, you’ve aced your internship so how to you convert it into a job?
Unfortunately, converting your internship into a job has a lot to do with timing. Even if you’ve impressed the bloody socks off them; if there are no job openings, there’s not much you can do.
HOWEVER, you can stay in touch and that way you’ll be front of mind when they have an available junior position open next.
They might put you in contact with some of their contacts or if you’re one of the lucky ones you’ll land a job. Always remember that every opportunity has the potential to lead somewhere, a close friend of mine started as an intern at a beauty website 5-years ago and was recently made the editor.
Be hungry for all learning experiences and take all feedback on board. Your internship could take you anywhere or exactly where you want to be.
*Please note that there are regulations with internships and if you’re being exploited you should report it.
Words by Kelly McCarren.