Internships hit the headlines this week when it was revealed that Dragon’s Dens judge and government advisor James Caan’s daughter has an internship in his own company, spawning a world of debate over how someone supposedly dedicated to equal opportunities can use all their clout to create opportunities for their own family. Next, we have Nick Clegg joining the debate, defending Mr Caan for merely indulging a parent’s instincts:
Personally, I think that the job market is so tough out there that I would never berate anyone for using what advantages they had, but it does bring the spotlight onto internships, which are now increasingly common. Once only the domain of people in the film, TV and other glamorous industries, internships are now seen across the board, and it’s universally accepted that young people will take on unpaid work experience in one or maybe more companies to equip themselves with the necessary skills and contacts to land their first paid job.
Whilst many do not like the idea, exclaiming that it stinks of exploitation and that everyone deserves a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work, I think anyone’s best bet is to get over worrying about the morality of internships and concern themselves with getting on and finding one - or helping someone else find theirs.
So, what are the best ways to land an internship?
Applying for an internship can be as competitive as applying for a job, especially in a big organisation such as the BBC or Deloittes, whose own programme has won awards. However, they do get 10,000 applications for 350 places!
But, land one of these coveted posts and you’ll stand out from the get-go and massively enhance your CV.
- Use Your Contacts
There are two levels to this. You can start by asking everyone you know and asking your parents and friends to do the same. Whilst large firms may be cutting down on nepotism, smaller firms are often still open to it. On the plus side, with a smaller business, you may find yourself learning and doing more at the front end rather than just observing or making tea.
Nowadays, there is also the wonderful power of social media - look at who you know (and who your parents and other close contacts know) on Facebook, Google +, Twitter and LinkedIn. Sometimes a simple “I am looking for work experience in x Please RT” may land you what you need.
Interning abroad allows you to combine two memorable experiences - what may be one of your first forays into work - and travelling. What’s more, as well as honing skills for the field you hope to work in, you’ll also be getting rich cultural experiences for your CV, not to mention building your confidence.
The downside of interning abroad is that you do have to pay for these programmes, which may feel counter-intuitive. Some, however, do pay you once you’ve passed the initial training period, but on the whole it helps to look at this more as an alternative to an internship back home - except that you have the added excitement of travel. Thinking of it this way, why would anyone want to intern at home?
Find out more about overseas internships and how they can improve your CV.more blog posts