A step-by-step guide to finding an internship

February 20, 2024
minutes to read
Michael Nuciforo
Table of Contents

Landing an internship is a great way to gain valuable experience early in your career. Working in a professional environment and dealing with real projects and clients will give you the confidence you need before pursuing your own business in that field. But, with so many firms offering internships, it can take time to figure out where to start. In this step-by-step guide, we'll show you how to find the right internship for you and make sure you stand out from the competition.

An internship is a short-term working arrangement, usually up to a maximum of 12 months, designed to upskill recent university, TAFE or high school leavers. Internships are undertaken to gain practical work experience and build professional skills and networks. They may be paid or unpaid, and they can be casual, part-time or full-time. Internships can be very valuable in helping people learn about a particular industry or career and can also be a stepping stone to pursuing a business in that chosen field.

Paid internships are usually offered at the lower end of the salary scale. Because the business you join will need to invest time in your training and development for little upfront reward, companies will offer a lower salary in recognition of the effort they put into upskilling you. Unpaid internships are also common, and whilst they do not offer compensation, they do provide other benefits such as academic credit, professional mentorship, and networking opportunities. In either case, there is likely to be short-term 'pain' for long-term reward. Having an internship on your resume will lead to more career and business opportunities and likely result in a higher income later on in your career.

In addition to gaining valuable experience, internships often offer other benefits, such as career mentoring from seasoned professionals or access to exclusive events that are only open to interns or employees at specific companies. As an intern, you can expect to make lasting connections. These connections may help with future job searches or even provide references for positions you apply for.

To get started with finding the right internship, you'll need to research potential companies that interest you. Not all companies offer internships, and some may not advertise them publicly. Still, they will be willing to budget for you if you make a strong enough case. To assist with your search, you can use websites like LinkedIn or Seek to find out about different companies and what roles they offer.

Start your search

In the first phase of your search, you should focus more on the companies that offer roles in the profession you are interested in. Once you have a shortlist of businesses, you can delve further into what internships they offer, and if they don't, you can figure out a way to pitch your skills to them. If you like the company or role enough, you may offer to do an unpaid internship to get a foot in the door. This decision ultimately rests with you and understanding how competitive the market is and how appealing your working experience will be to your future career aspirations.

Update your resume

Now that your target list is ready, it's time to update your resume. Your resume should highlight skills that are relevant to the role and showcase any previous work experience or education that may be related. You can also add volunteer work or extracurricular activities demonstrating your enthusiasm for the role. It's also important to customise your resume for each position. Employers appreciate when job candidates take the time and effort to tailor their resumes accordingly.

Get networking

Networking is an essential part of the job search process. Feel free to reach out to people in your network who may have connections at potential companies. This could be former coworkers, university or TAFE alumni, or even family members. These connections can provide insights into the company or even put in a good word for you with the hiring team. Keep in mind that networking isn't just about asking people for help; it's also about building relationships and helping others in return.

Apply for internships

Once you've applied for a position, make sure you follow up after submitting your application by sending a thank-you note or email expressing your interest in the role. This will show employers that you are serious about wanting the job and are willing to go above and beyond what is expected of applicants. Finding the right internship may take time, so don't be discouraged if don't you land your dream internship immediately. Keep applying and networking, and you'll eventually find the right opportunity.

Interneship FAQs

What is an intern?

An intern is typically a student or recent graduate who works temporarily for a business to gain experience in a particular field.

Why should I hire an intern?

Hiring an intern can bring fresh perspectives and ideas to your business while allowing someone to gain valuable work experience. It can also alleviate some of the workload for your existing staff.

Do I need to pay my intern?

If your intern is doing work that a paid employee would typically do, they must be paid at least the minimum wage. However, there are some exceptions for certain types of internships, such as those in an educational program or where the intern is not performing productive work.

How long should an internship last?

Internships can range from a few weeks to several months, depending on the needs of your business and the intern's availability. It's important to have a clear understanding with your intern about the length of their internship and what is expected of them during that time.

What tasks can I assign to an intern?

Interns can be given various tasks, from administrative duties to more specialised jobs related to their studies or interest. It's important to provide clear guidance and supervision to ensure the intern can complete the tasks effectively and learn from the experience.

How do I find an intern?

There are many ways to find an intern, including through job posting sites, university centres, and professional networks. You can also reach out to local organisations that may be able to connect you with potential interns in your field.

Internships are a fantastic way for students to explore different career paths and gain real-world knowledge before entering full-time employment or starting a business. With some research, preparation, and networking, finding an internship doesn't have to be stressful. All internships allow interns to learn more about their chosen industry while making connections that could prove invaluable during their job search process. With so much value packed into every internship opportunity, it's no wonder they are a popular way to get your career heading in the right direction.

DISCLAIMER: Team Thrive Pty Ltd ABN 15 637 676 496 (Thriday) is an authorised representative (No.1297601) of Regional Australia Bank ABN 21 087 650 360  AFSL 241167 (Regional Australia Bank).  Regional Australia Bank is the issuer of the transaction account and debit card available through Thriday. Any information provided by Thriday is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether Thriday is appropriate for you.

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