Are you going to intern somewhere this summer? Or are you planning to do that after your graduation? Never done it in your life? Are you willing to improve your “internship hunting capabilities”?
If so, you are just looking at the right column!
For two months I will be telling you everything about the internship, both in terms of technicalities, like the CV and the cover letter, and of attitudes, like energy and autonomy.
In a midsummer’s time: a midsummer’s internship guide.
A for Autonomy
You have just been hired for an internship. Great! You sit down in your office and you wait for explanations from your tutor. It is ok for your first day. But not for everyday!
It is not only because you may bore your tutor. The internship is basically an opportunity to learn. And one of the things to learn is autonomy. That is to say: be able to carry out a job or meet a deadline without clear and precise information about the work from your tutor.
Warning: I don’t mean you should make up your job. Of course, ask if you don’t have an idea of what to do. But don’t frequently ask too many questions. Instead: try to manage yourself on the basis of the information given to you. Otherwise, you learn nothing, except boring people like cheeky kids who keep on asking: “Why?”. What if your employer maybe asks you too at the end of the internship: “Why (should I hire you)?”
B for Backbone
You have been looking for an internship for weeks. Then, they become months. You may get a few interviews and many applications without any answer. You start thinking that there’s something wrong with you. Stop and think about one word: “Resilience”. A talisman? A drug to make you a good performer? A new firm which is looking for desperate internship hunters?
Nothing like these. It is an attitude towards life, the idea of clinging no matter what to your convictions and your goals in life just like one’s body clings to its backbone. More precisely, it concerns the bad sides you sometimes get in life: the failures. The mysterious word was taken from psychologists from the engineering language. Applied to human beings, it points people who bend but never yield.
The same goes during your internship hunt: in your search for a career, you must cling to your backbone and knock at many doors. Sooner or later, some employer will let you in. If you are still incredulous, think about the statistics: the more you apply, the more chances you have to get hired. Maths is not just an opinion, isn’t it?
C for Cover letter
The application form asks you to upload your cover letter. What a boring thing! Is my CV not enough? What should I write? Eventually: is it worth the effort?
These are the typical reactions that come to a future intern when is asked to write a cover letter. Obviously, it may seem more interesting to write anything else. But an internship is worth a cover letter! Why? Together with a good CV, it is a powerful self marketing tool. Hence, it is very important to attach it whenever you can, also when it is not asked of you to do that: for example, use it as the text in the body of the application email you are sending to the company with your CV attached.
Two important things are still puzzling: what and how to write your cover letter. In a nutshell, in 4 paragraphs (more or less: 15 lines) you should include:
- the position you are applying for and how did you notice the vacancy
- how your qualifications match with the position advertised
- concrete arguments to persuade the employer that you are the right person for the job
- how and when you can be contacted (the statement: “I am available for an interview at your convenience” will surely be a plus).
How to write it? Using short and clear sentences with positive words: negative verbs like “I have never worked before” are banned. On the contrary, show what you can do for the company and state your willingness to fill in possible gaps between you and the position. Remember not to say you are “the best”, instead convey that you are the “right person” with a matter-of-fact style.
By Valentina Magri, MA student in Management at Bocconi University