The dream internship will not simply land at your feet. The competition for places is fierce and you need something special, or a unique approach to make it happen.
If you follow these steps you will be well on your way to standing out from the crowd.
It might seem counter-intuitive, but for this to work you need to snap-out of your current mind-set. You are not looking for an internship. You are looking for a mentor in your desired industry.
This approach relies on people’s inherent willingness to offer advice to others in need. You may know the feeling. A sibling asking for advice on homework… Someone in the year below asking how you made it into the Hockey Team…
So here we go. Remember, the end goal may be to find your dream internship but for the next hour you will be establishing a network of industry mentors.
Put the kettle on, make yourself comfortable and make sure you’ve got a suitable firstname.lastname@example.org email account.
Set up a LinkedIn account (https://www.linkedin.com/reg/join). By this stage you will have already done research into which companies you want to work for. ‘Follow’ these companies on LinkedIn and identify 2 people at each company that are where you want to be in both 5 years and 10 years’ time. If you are still lacking the right level of visibility then by all means link in with a member of the Norton Leigh team. (http://www.linkedin.com/company/norton-leigh?trk=top_nav_home)
20 – 40 minutes
Now you need to establish their work email addresses. If you can’t find them on either the company website, Linkedin or Google then do the following… call up the company switch-board and confirm with reception whether the company email format is firstname@.. Or firstname.lastname@… You’d be surprised how effective this is when asked confidently. You only need to do this successfully 5 times and you will now have 10 relevant email addresses.
40 – 60 minutes
Drafting of the email… You are now ready to write the emails. Remember – you are going to be sending these to some influential people. The key to these emails is not to send your CV and hope for the best! Remember securing the internship comes later….
Here is an example email….
Subject: Company Name
I hope you don’t mind me contacting you directly but I’d really like to seek your advice on my career. I’ve just graduated from (XYZ Uni) in (XYZ Course) and have my dreams set on working in the (XYZ industry) in the role of (XYZ capacity).
From doing my research, I can see that (XYZ Company) is leading the field in terms of (xyz service / product).
I notice from your LinkedIn profile that you have been a specialist in the industry for ( 5 or 10 years) and I was hoping that with the benefit of hindsight you might be able to point me in the right direction.
I’m sure you can appreciate it’s pretty competitive for students at the moment and I’m doing all I can to get ahead of the pack. Would you be happy to elaborate on both the good and bad decisions you made whilst getting to where you are today?
You may not get replies from everyone. People may be on holiday or just really busy. If you are short of the desired number of mentors then repeat the process but targeting different individuals within the same firm.
Ok, you might be thinking ‘Well, where’s my internship?!’
But let’s take a step back and establish what you’ve just achieved…
You’ve initiated dialogue with 10 potential mentors and given them the opportunity to help a committed and driven graduate follow in their footsteps.
The resulting dialogue could take many twists and turns but remember to ask open questions and perhaps begin to leverage the discussions you are having with the other firms. You may want to ask your new mentors what their views are on these other companies. The next step may be to ask for their views on internships and whether they are a good thing, whether they helped them get to where they are today… You can see where we are going with this…
Remember, be confident, relevant and leverage your new network.
Best of luck and we’d really like to hear how you get on. Of course if you are looking for help in establishing which are the best firms to work for in Digital then we can help you put together your hit list of companies you want to work for in the first instance.