Getting your foot in the door
Finding an internship is hard. Sometimes it feels like its own full-time job, which no one pays or gives you credit for. I had been looking for an internship for months before I stumbled upon my first internship at UTS Careers. Today, I’d like to help you to get your foot in the door and find your ideal internship.
Before I provide you with some helpful tips to assist you with your internship journey. It’s important to understand the key challenge most students face when trying to find an internship in the Australian job market.
Most companies prefer to hire internally first before advertising externally on their job boards. This becomes a challenge for new job seekers because they usually start with job boards. That makes sense though, given that there’s a large selection of jobs on job boards and it’s very easy to send multiple applications. It works for some and that’s great.
It just didn’t work for me, so I had to find other ways to get my foot in the door. Here are some things worth trying.
You’re probably tired of hearing about networking, I know. The reason you hear it all the time is that it works. To start with, here’s the good news. You already have a network. Your family, friends, workmates, and society mates are all a part of your network. Well done!
Now what you might like to do is utilise your network or understand how to develop your network so it includes contacts that are active in your desired industry. For example, let’s say you study business BUT you want to build a career in technology. You might find that there aren’t many people in your existing network who can guide you in that direction. That’s ok too because you can use a number of tools like LinkedIn, university societies, and niche platforms to help you find people in your chosen industry.
Now that we’ve established the importance of networking. Let’s go into a little bit more detail about each of these tools and how they can help you expand your network.
LinkedIn is a great tool for networking and building your knowledge about a particular industry. If you already have an account, great! If not, I would highly recommend you make one. You can meet people in pretty much any industry and set up informational interviews to build your knowledge of the industry or job you’re interested in. If you’d like some tips on how to use LinkedIn effectively, have a look at the LinkedIn Workbook.
Professional Mentoring Platform (PMP)
The Professional Mentoring Platform is another great way to expand your professional network. This one is a CareerHub exclusive. On PMP, you’ll be able to find people like industry professionals and alumni who have volunteered to help mentor students throughout their career journey, so you’re likely to get a much better response rate. Also, it’s much easier to set up interviews with the mentors here (at least in my experience). As soon as you send them a message with your concerns, mentors on the platform will generally set up a call with you either on the platform or over coffee. It’s important to note that sometimes this can take several days or be quite quick as it depends on the mentors schedule. A key advantage of PMP is that it takes the stress out of awkward introductions. Find out more about it here.
University societies are a fantastic way to network because you very quickly meet a diverse group of people who might be further in their job search than you, or those who are already working full-time. This just gives you more opportunities to learn strategies from others who are in a similar stage in life as you. Also, societies usually offer their own industry networking events where you can meet industry reps and build your network that way.
It’s important to note that access to societies is only available to you while you’re a student but you’ll probably remember the people you meet there long after you graduate. Find them all here.
Niche platforms are also another way to meet like-minded individuals in industries you’d like to explore. Most industries have their own niche platforms, groups, and communities. You can find some of these groups on LinkedIn or even through a Google search. Simplu by searching industry of interest.
Here’s my favourite:
Earlywork is a community for young professionals interested in technology, startups, and social impact. They have their own jobs board, and they have a very cool group of people who communicate on Slack. You have book clubs, shout outs for new gigs and cool projects, and so much more. I joined in August last year and since then I’ve joined their book club, played futsal, and landed an internship! Check it out here.
Looking for internships
Now to get into the actual process of looking and applying for jobs. There are different ways to go about this and get your foot in the door. I find that there are two ways to do this either you can optimise the job searching process to the exact role you want to work in. Or, you could be just trying to get your foot in the door of a specific industry and simply searching generally to learn more about the desired industry. I’ll walk you through how to optimise for your desired job role in this blog.
Below are some helpful hints and steps to walk you through the process.
For example, let’s say you are looking for a role as a “Data Analyst”, but you’re not sure about the industry. Here’s how I might go about this situation.
- Go through “Data Analyst” job descriptions in a few different industries and find the standard requirements.
- You can utilise your network to understand the key skills a grad/intern needs to succeed in that particular role.
- Then it’s important to understand if you have any proficiencies in those areas.
- If not, that’s ok because it’s quite straightforward to upskill! There are a number of ways to upskill including completing a virtual experience program or an online course. (e.g. Coursera, Entry Level, LinkedIn Learning, The Forage).
Good job on getting this far! At this point, you should know the common soft and technical skills required in your role of choice, and you should have already had a network that is willing to help you in your job search.
- The final steps for finding an internship and getting your foot in the door involve creating job alerts. Whether you use Indeed, Seek, or LinkedIn, you can create job alerts based on “Data Analyst Intern” keywords.
You can specify the location as well. This outsources most of the lead generation to your chosen job board software. Let’s say you’ve found 4 jobs you like. The next steps are:
- Go to the hiring post, and find the job description and potentially the recruiter’s name.
- If not, LinkedIn is your friend. You can filter out by role, company, and location to find the recruiters involved in an organisation.
- You can also look for previous hiring posts through that organisation’s hashtags, e.g. “#googleintern”.
- Reach out to the recruiter to ask more about the role, maybe more about the company they’re hiring for, etc. This is just for them to know your name a bit better. They might also take the liberty of stalking your profile, so you might get more attention compared to a resume sent in by a stranger.
That is pretty much it for the process of job role optimisation. Suppose you have a specific industry in mind. In that case, you can like/follow specific organisations and keep up to date with new job openings, the latest news, etc. If you can connect with someone in the organisation, even better!
I hope this article helped structure your job searching process and provided some useful tools to develop your network and set you up for success in the long term. If you’d like a more detailed guide, please look at the Job and Internship Workbook.
Featured image courtesy of Pexels
Peer Career Advisor
Adeeb Khan is a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Business student majoring in Biotechnology and Economics.