Internships are imperative when setting the foundation of your career.
They give you a sense of what it's like to work in a particular industry. Also, they help you build and hone skills, network, and learn about professional life.
Finding your first internship is an exciting yet challenging journey, especially for individuals with no prior experience. We all have to start somewhere, and for many people, that place is with their first internship.
So, how do you get an internship with no experience? Here are 4 tips to get your first internship.
Find out what you want
Just because you don’t know what career you want doesn’t mean you don’t know what you’re good at. Assess your strength, values, temperament, personality, and interests.
Take an active look at what you’re good at and what makes you tick. This is a powerful way of assessing a career path that will fit and complement you. Are you still confused about what your strengths are or what you are good at? Don’t stress! You can check out some online career tests (careerfitter.com or thecareertest).
You also need to think about the type of Tech start-up you want to work for. You want to work for a start-up that you are enthusiastic about, not simply for any start-up. You might be wondering how to go about this, I mean there are a lot of start-ups right? To start, think about the apps or products you use and love. These could be excellent candidates for possible internships because you are already familiar with the product and can offer user-generated insights.
Still indecisive? Think about companies that you are interested in and those that have fewer than 200 employees as they are less likely to have rigid hiring policies and there is room for you to take on different roles. CrunchBase and AngelList are great resources for finding tech start-ups.
Write Your Resume
If you haven’t done so already, do it right away. This is the most important part of the application process.
To start, you should briefly describe your previous responsibilities, education, and anything else you'd like to mention, such as your technical and people skills, as well as any campus groups you were a part of. Don't disregard the value of the little experience you have.
For instance, if you have worked as a sales attendant (doesn’t have to be a supermarket), you may want to highlight that first because of the many lessons you learned. Keep in mind that you should focus on the outcomes, not just what you did. You should also try to keep it as quantifiable as possible. Instead of listing your different responsibilities as a sales attendant, list the outcomes, such as:
- Reduced customer waiting period from 10 minutes to 3 minutes.
- Built relationships with customers to ensure repeat business.
Triple Check Your CV
Once you’ve edited your resume several times and you think it’s ready, it’s not. Get a second and third look. Solicit feedback from others, including friends, family or you can pay for a professional review if you can afford to. These professionals have looked at thousands of CVs. And, they might have relationships with different companies, so they have an understanding of what employers are looking for in a candidate and on a CV.
Don’t get upset when you receive criticisms or negative feedback. They are only trying to help and remember if they’re having trouble understanding your CV, then a hiring manager could as well.
Ace the Interview
After sending your first application or a couple, you have finally landed an interview! The next step is to ensure you ace the interview, it's your one chance to impress the interviewer. So what do you do?
- Ensure that you practice and do your due diligence by researching the company (you can use google, LinkedIn, CrunchBase, and even social media).
- Prepare non-generic questions for the interviewer.
- Most interviews are virtual. Check that your camera and microphone are working.
- Ensure that your network is good and stable.
- Ensure your friends and family are aware of your interview. You don't want your sibling walking in during the interview asking for a tik-tok dance feature
- Smile! Be confident and be yourself.
- Send thank you notes after your interview. It leaves a good impression.
Remember, you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you!
Bonus Tip! (I decided to be nice and give a bonus tip, I mean who doesn't like bonuses)
Be a Star
Yay! You’re finally in and have been given your set job responsibilities but don’t just focus on these duties.
Take some time to adjust and learn your responsibilities then be proactive! If you have a new idea or can see a way of improving processes, suggest it. If any interesting challenges come up, be prepared to take them on, even if it means extra work or attempting something that is out of your comfort zone. All of this will help you get noticed and will give you the experience you need to work at a higher level. Even if you want to work elsewhere, having examples of when you have been proactive will stand you in good stead and will help you in your applications and interviews.
P.S: One word of warning, though: don’t get so distracted by trying to be innovative that you forget to do the tasks you’ve been delegated!
You might not get your internship at the first try and that is totally fine! While at times it will be difficult to keep going, just keep your head up and continue applying. You got this!