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Looking for an Internship in a Covid World

By Gillian 17 Nov 2020

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Internships, placements and work experience are such a valuable tool for students. You get a realistic understanding of a workplace and a role, a chance to apply your academic knowledge to real life scenarios, and an opportunity to grow your skills and understand an industry from the inside. Perhaps most importantly, you can demonstrate your interest and competence, and build relationships with the people and teams who will be hiring graduates - around 50% of students go on to be offered a graduate level job with that company.  If you decide the organisation is not for you, you have still grown your network and gained lots of great experience to boost your CV and to talk about at interview.

But…. (and it’s a big but….) Covid has made a significant impact on many organisations – suddenly offering an internship or guiding you through a placement may not be top of the agenda, even for employees who value the insight a student can offer and want to support the development of others. Health and safety, minimising contact, employee bubbles, home working and financial challenges means the logistics might seem overwhelming. The Institute of Student Employers released their annual employer survey last week, which shows a stark picture of the impact of Covid on internships and placements for students – it estimates that there are around 30% fewer internships on offer this year. Like all Covid impacts, this is really sector specific, with retail, hospitality and the arts showing the biggest decline. So far, so depressing, right? So what can you do to make sure that YOU get the work experience you need this year? Here are three suggestions:

Create the opportunity yourself – If the dream internship isn’t advertised, can you create it yourself? Identify an organisation that you want to work for, and approach them to ask for what you need. Do your research about the challenges they are facing and be specific about how an internship could work: two weeks working remotely on a project? The opportunity to shadow someone via zoom? Attending team meetings? You should lead an approach by demonstrating what you have to offer – marketing expertise, excel mastery, admin wizardry? Whatever you do, make the benefits to the organisation and the individual clear.

Build your own programme of ‘mini internships’ – Ask yourself what you really want to get out of an internship, what is most important for you? Write a list and start to view the experience, insight and networking opportunities separately.  You might find that you can curate a series of activities for yourself that collectively put a tick in each box. For examples, you could approach three or four people working in different companies or industries via LinkedIn and ask if you can interview them about their job via a virtual coffee? Or ask for a project in a particular area from your part time employer? i.e. take over the social media channels for a week for the coffee shop you work at?

Volunteer – There are a wide range of organisations who are likely to be looking for volunteers to support vulnerable people over winter and through Corona virus fluctuations. Employers are likely to look favourably on applicants who can show that they spent time as a student helping others, whilst also developing their collaborative working, organisation and team working skills.

If you need help putting these tips into action, want some tops on the internships that are being advertised, or want to chat through other strategies for getting the experience that you need, email careers@qmu.ac.uk, or book an online or face to face appointment with a careers or employability adviser through student central - https://studentcentral.qmu.ac.uk/s/careers/appointments

 A few sources of advertised Internships that are worth looking at:

https://www.ratemyplacement.co.uk/

https://www.prospects.ac.uk/jobs-and-work-experience/work-experience-and-internships/internships

https://www.aai-employability.org.uk/

https://creativeaccess.org.uk

https://www.investment2020.org.uk

https://targetjobs.co.uk/internships

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