6 Ways to Position Yourself for an Internship
I can't remember how I found Ugo's blog - Ugo Talks A Lot, but I've been a consistent reader for over two years and have always admired his consistency and insightful posts on issues as they play out in the Nigerian society.
Ugo recently graduated from Covenant University (congratulations!), and I was pleased to hear that he was graduating from University into a paid internship with a well known media company. I asked if he would be willing to share his process for staying professionally engaged as a newly minted graduate - the rest as they say is history. Enjoy the read and learn something :).
How to position yourself for an internship - Ugo Iwuchukwu
Internships are not really complicated to get. In fact, they are one of the easiest ways to get yourself into a proper job. At the very least the work experience you get from internships will make you more attractive to employers and recruiters.
I recently graduated from College and was so desperate to find something to do that I was searching for internships all over the place. Before I graduated, I had spent my final year in school juggling my final year project, a merciless school timetable and an internship at a prestigious tech company that allowed me to work offsite. I spent seven months doing that and now I'm already interning somewhere else, two months after I left my former employer because of exams. If you've ever wondered how to get an internship, especially in Nigeria, you in luck. Here's how to get things going.
How to get an internship
Know your strengths and weaknesses, what interests you and what doesn't.
An internship is like probation. Everyday, you are seeking to impress and interning at a place that doesn't interest you will not likely bring the best out of you. Knowing your strengths and interests will also guide you towards what companies to apply to. This does not mean that you should close the door on companies who don't do what interest you, it simply means they should not be at the summit of your list of preferences. For example, I'm a social media junkie and my first and current internships saw and see me earn money for tweeting and commenting on blogs and forums.
Be knowledgeable in the field you want to intern in
Recruiters generally do not require you to be an expert, but that doesn't mean you must be a novice. Internships are keenly contested and the more knowledgeable you are in the field, the better you would impress the interviewers. While they don't require you to be an expert, being one wouldn't hurt your chances at all. So get on the Internet read as much as you can on the field as well as the company you're applying to.
No matter how much you read or know about the field the experience simply isn't there, and if schools taught you anything, you know theory can be very different from reality. While you want to come across as convincingly knowledgeable, you don't want to sound proud. Keep a humble aura around you.
Leverage Your Social Media
After all these, there's the tiny matter of finding an actual internship opening. My suggestion - get on social media. LinkedIn and Twitter are recruiters most valuable assets in this century. Openings would be posted there before anywhere else. There are also websites like stutern.com that can assist you with finding internship openings.
There are a lot of unpaid internships and fewer paid ones, you must decide for yourself if you're willing to take up an unpaid internship for the experience alone while incurring transportation costs at the very least.
Prepare your CV/Resume
In my experience, these documents will always need to be adjusted as you apply to new organizations. Those minor adjustments make a world of difference by making you look like a better fit for the organization you are applying to. Co-Curricula activities, student leadership positions, character and academic awards are ways to boost your CV while you're still in school. Your grades too are very important and you must not joke with them. Always have your CV within reasonable distance, have a copy on your phone, your laptop and in cloud storage, you never know when an opportunity is going to appear.
If you don't have a CV yet, do not panic. They are not too difficult to create, you can go online find a template and start from scratch, or you can request a friend or parents own and use their format to create yours. Either way, be sure to get your CV critiqued so you can plug holes you did not know existed.
Finally be prayerful
A lot of these things come down to prayer and divine guidance. Sometimes God orders your steps to be on the right Twitter timeline or website at the right time to see these openings. I've personally experienced this and I cannot over emphasize it.
I wish you all the best in your search.