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Being hired as an intern, especially by your dream company, can give you a leg up into the industry of your choice. For instance, once you graduate with a degree in Accounting, getting an internship job in a reputable company like Price Waterhouse, Ernst & Young, KPMG or BDO is akin to being handed a golden key. It’s the kind of opportunity that will look splendid on a resume.
It won’t guarantee you a job with the above-mentioned companies but the chances of the hiring team chucking your resume and application straight into the trash are lower. It’s a hurdle that many talented accountants from esteemed universities and colleges have to clamour through before making it past the application process, even before being considered for the first interview.
The job market is highly competitive, and it is much more so with reputable firms. Some large international companies regularly hire new blood for their organisations because they want to assess and train potential employees and the best way to do it is to start with an internship program.
In fact, some graduates make it their mission to secure a string of internships before being employed and although interns are not paid a whole lot compared to the market rate (sometimes, it is outrightly unpaid), it does not change the value of the experience. If you’re straddling the fence, read more about some of the most popular and sought-after professions here.
What’s the value of doing menial tasks like making coffee, filing documents and making endless piles of copies? Here, we’ll explain why and then how.
Why become an intern?
As any employee can tell you, signing on the dotted line at the end of that Offer Letter is a big step towards launching your career. Being an intern offers you insights into a real corporate environment that you would not have otherwise read about in the papers, books, magazines or online.
Cast into a professional environment where making morning coffee for everyone in the office is your everyday duty and running errands for your boss is as real as it gets, you also experience how to get some real work done! And more importantly, when you’ve been an intern in various organisations, you learn to adapt, evolve, and innovate.
Sometimes, the reason people apply for an internship is to meet new people, acquire references, attend events, and find a mentor. Together with these people, their stories and experiences, it will help you formulate a plan for your future.
How to land a good internship position in Malaysia
The best places to start looking for internship offers are:
- Your family and relatives are in industries you would like to be in
- Your friends and their family
- Your alma mater, teachers and counsellors
- Newspaper advertisements
- Browse through the websites of companies you would like to work with to see if the door to internship is open
- Get the search going in search engines like Google and Yahoo!
- Get connected and get the word out on professional social media sites like Linkedin
Have a look at the list of companies looking for interns and browse through their requirements. What kind of people are they looking for? What roles do they need to fill for their companies? Are they an international company with branches in other countries? What are your prospects of rising the ranks? What responsibilities are the interns tasked with? What stipend (if any) are they offering?
Once you’ve narrowed what you’re looking for and what they’re offering, the next phase of your life will begin on a sound footing.
Networking your way to your next internship gig
Apart from scouring the internet for internship roles, another way to land you a good internship job is to attend a job fair. By attending a career fair, you’ll see one consistent trait that hiring teams often look out for and it’s a positive and professional attitude.
Attending career fairs, although a small part of the process, lets you meet with future employers and speak to them. Potential interns get to ask every burning question they have about the job and hand out as many resumes to participating employers as one can imagine. So, bring plenty of copies along with you. Save a digital version of your resume in your phone or laptop so you can send them to interested employers on the spot via email, Bluetooth, or apps like Dropbox. Show them you’re dead serious about nailing the internship.
Practice makes perfect so, hone your sales pitch as much as you can. This article shows you how to showcase your skillset, talent, and potential as an intern in the shortest time. It’s been shown that 50% to 75% of jobs, including internships, were found via networking and this is precisely what you want to do at a job fair.
How to sell yourself in the internship job market
You don’t have to use the same conversation starter or elevator talk with everyone because as different as you are from the next potential intern, so’s the employer. From the get-go, use your knowledge, experience and gut instinct to determine what future employers are looking for and gauge their interest level.
If you think you might be a good fit, don’t be afraid to do the following:
- Share your skills online or upgrade it
- Tell future employers about what you want from your career
- Keep things spiffy and to-the-point
- Hand out your resume or contact information (complete with online info) at the ready
- Be persuasive and confident in yourself
- Keep an open mind to possibilities outside of what you have imagined
- If you’re familiar with the industry, don’t be afraid to speak the language
- Have various versions of your sales pitch prepared for different people. Everyone’s different. Based on your initial evaluation of their personalities and what they want from you, use the right sales pitch on them
- Let them know you’re open for a discussion, an interview or negotiations
Once you’ve established the first contact, keep their contact information complete with your personal notes and thoughts with it. If you like the internship package they are offering, follow up with the recruiters immediately after the job fair. Sometimes, it could be a simple ‘thank you’ and ‘nice to meet you’ message just to touch base.
On top of letting them know that you’re keen on accepting the internship, it also restates your skillset and qualifications.
Be enthusiastic about learning and experiencing new things
Generally speaking, employers are hasty to employ interns who are stuck in the rut. They like interns who are not just qualified but are enthusiastic about learning new ways to get the job done. Maybe it’s time to learn how to be a good intern.
An internship is meant to give you a different or new perspective about your future career path and develop new skills. You’ll find having hands-on experience extremely different from the kind of knowledge buried deep in the throes of your textbooks.
It’s not the end of the road for those who are not born with a sunny disposition because there are many ways to impress people’s socks off. It’s just that people with good interpersonal skills tend to fare better in stressful work conditions.
Start early and snag the good internship roles
You don’t have to wait until you’re done with either high school or university to start looking for a good internship role around you. Start the game early and begin your search as soon as possible, even when you’re taking a break after your exams.
Start by finding out more about the type of internship you’re interested in.
The confusing world of employment becomes clearer when you arm yourself with knowledge about what’s out there. In fact, good internship roles are often snagged up early on because employers know that is the perfect time to start their search for the right candidate.
So, yes, not only is landing a good internship role all about knowing the right people in the right places, but it’s also about the timing.
We wish you the best of luck!
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