The vacancies are coming in, and so are your enquiries. What are we talking about? Summer internships, of course. What better time to hand over to our other new BFFs (we’re so popular it’s getting embarrassing) at Inspiring Interns to get the lowdown, hints and tips from their own Beth Leslie…

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* NB. Not a photo of Beth. And also, as the saying goes ‘actual internship may not match photo’ – though that kinda depends on where you apply and what for. Anyhoo. Over to Beth…

Boost Your Job Prospects with a Summer Internship!

For university students (that’s you – ed.) currently cramming for exams in freezing libraries, summer might seem a very long way away. But if you’re thinking of doing a summer internship, the time to plan and apply is right now!

What Is a Summer Internship?

Summer internships are designed specifically for university undergraduates. They usually last between 4-10 weeks, take place over the summer holidays, and are open to anyone who is studying at a UK institution and eligible to work in the UK.

Hundreds of employers throughout the UK offer summer internships, including many of the top graduate employers. Most big-name employers will pay their summer interns, making it a much better alternative to a summer of supermarket shelf-stacking!

Why Should I Do a Summer Internship?

Because they get you hired! It’s no secret that employers love graduates with an internship or two under their belt – work experience is regularly cited as the most important thing they look for in a graduate job application.

Summer internships don’t just make your CV sparkle; they also increase the graduate job opportunities available to you. 40% of graduate jobs are only open to candidates who have relevant work experience.

Businesses are particularly fond of their own interns. If you work hard and make a good impression, a company may offer you a graduate job on the spot. If you’re keen to get into a particular industry or grad scheme after university, a summer internship helps you get ahead of the competition.

How Do I Get a Summer Internship?

There are several different application routes. To give yourself the best chance of landing a fantastic role, why not combine all three?

  • Online Application
    Most students who apply for summer internships do so through a formal online application. If you’ve not got a specific internship in mind, using a job board like Employment for Students will give you a heap of options. Alternatively, you can apply to selected companies directly through their websites. Online applications are usually the simplest and most straightforward approach to getting a summer internship. And some companies prefer all applicants to go through official channels out of a desire for fairness or efficiency.  However, with so many students applying online, the chance of your application standing out is slim. A recent study suggested that the odds of getting any job through a direct application are a measly 1.2%.
  • Networking
    Many students are put off networking because it seems scary or like hard work. But it is the single most effective way of finding a job: 85% of positions are filled through it. Networking can take two forms – personal or professional. Personal networking is simply quizzing friends and family to find out if any of them are connected to a company you’d like to work for, or know someone who is. They can then introduce you to a key contact or put in a good word with the hiring manager. Professional networking involves going to job fairs, career evenings and other events, and talking to the company representatives who are there. Networking alone can’t get you a job; you’ll still need to prove yourself in an interview. But it can get your foot in the door and make you stand out from the crowd. When it comes to competitive roles, that can be invaluable.
  • Speculative Application
    A speculative application is when you contact a company who isn’t advertising any openings.  It has a high risk of failure (some companies just don’t have the resources to take on interns) but when it works, it works really well. The trick with speculative applications is to take your time. Research the company thoroughly and tailor your cover letter specifically to them. Focus on talking about what you could offer the company rather than what they could offer you. Speculative applicants show the sort of drive and initiative which really impress employers. Even if they can’t offer you a job this time around, they’re likely to remember you positively.

Beth Leslie writes graduate careers advice for Inspiring Interns, a graduate recruitment agency specialising in matching candidates to their dream internship. Check out their graduate jobs listings for roles. Or; if you’re looking to hire an intern, have a look at their innovative Video CVs.

Image: Airriders Kiteprocenter via Compfight