,   |  March 7, 2013

Guest Post: How I successfully landed my internship

The below guest post is written by Laura Dunn who runs the Political Style blog. Today she shares with us how she successfully landed her many internships. Thanks so much Laura for contributing to The Prepary!

We all know that internships are very important – they build your resume, give you exposure to different companies and roles, and most importantly, help you figure out what you want to do full time.

I’ve had quite a few internships.  My first internship was in high school. I took a short placement at the busy office of a national charity. It was daunting at first, but I eventually found my feet and enjoyed participating and learning more about how an office should successfully work.

I had always been interested in current affairs and writing, and knew fairly early on that I wanted to work in communications. I began to tailor my experience accordingly, taking on related roles. I interned for a week at the BBC, the UK’s national public service broadcaster, as well as at my local newspaper. I also interned at the Western Mail, Wales’s national newspaper, and the National Assembly for Wales to broaden my experience of political issues. Regular readers may also remember that I interned in the US House of Representatives.  So how did I successfully land my internships?

Think about them early:

If you are still in High School and reading this, you can start researching different opportunities now! I started my search by taking advice from teachers, family contacts and researching the types of internships that were out there.  Some internships will accept people in high school and some won’t but it’s great to start looking and exploring your interests.

Write a list of your strengths and interests:

Getting your thoughts out on paper will help you to tailor your internship search. Write down your strengths and any unique skills you have. Doing this helped me to refine my search, and I was sure to include the skills and experiences I had gained with my blog, my school newspaper and other creative projects.

Research what’s in your area

You don’t need to travel far to find your perfect placement. Use Google Maps or take a walk around your local neighbourhood, shopping area or business district to see what’s located in your area. I was fortunate that the area’s local newspaper was based ten minutes away from my house, and I was easily able to travel the relatively short distance to where the BBC was based. Is there a store or business you admire? Pop in and introduce yourself.

Use your contacts

Ask your teachers, career advisors, parents and friends if they know of any opportunities. Likewise, don’t be afraid of asking for any help or advice. This is one of the best pieces of advice I have been given, and has made me push myself that little bit further out of my comfort zone to learn about the experiences of other people. Great opportunities have come my way just by asking!

Be open-minded

At first glance, a placement may not offer all the experience you think you need. Don’t cast if off at the first moment. Find out more, and ask the representative if they are able to offer the other experience you are after. I was in one position where an internship wasn’t challenging me enough- I received a call on my third day offering me a placement at another organisation. My internship coordinator was supportive and encouraged me to take up the new opportunity.

Most importantly, have fun!

Work placements are a great chance to find out more about yourself, your strengths and your interests. Embrace the opportunities that come your way, remember to ask for a reference upon leaving and say thank you for the time you have spent! Remembering these three crucial steps are the basics of ending your placement successfully- and are what I would expect and recommend from any intern I was managing!

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