Finding work is becoming a pretty difficult challenge for many people out there, even for those that are highly qualified. You can spend years studying and just assume you’ll walk straight into a job at the end of it. This might have been the case in the past but unfortunately not anymore as the competition is super high out there.  If you’re wanting to stand out from the crowd and get known within the industry you wish to work in then an Internship is exactly what you need to find.

My Internship Story

On completion of my A-Levels, I started my degree in Marketing. I enjoyed studying but I was super eager to get into the world of work straight away and make my mark in the industry!

During my degree, I thought I needed to start gaining some experience before my time at university was over and I’d be left with a shiny new degree but no experience. It was somewhat difficult to find time to gain on-the-job experience as I had my education demanding quite a lot of my time. It was coming up to the Halloween break and although I had a lot of studying to do I managed to free up a number of days.

I decided to contact the BBC Northern Ireland and was rather persistent to get a few days in there. I sent my updated curriculum vitae along with my cover letter which was beaming with reasons why they should have me on a short internship. They came back with the final decision of letting me do a few days during the break, which then lead me into gaining other internship opportunities after this.

When I completed my studies, I contacted a local radio station in application for a Marketing Internship role. I got accepted there for three months and this leads me onto interning for a PPC and SEO agency that the station outsourced work to. Unfortunately, these internships came to an end and neither of them could keep me on for financial reasons. I mean, I had the most amazing time there but this put a slight dampener on it.

However, after this little knockdown, I got back up and spotted online that My Baggage was looking for a Digital Marketing Intern for the summer months. I was in Italy on holiday at the time but I had to apply straight away! A few weeks later, I interviewed for the role, and guess what? I got the job! I mean, I’m sure you guessed that, why would I be writing here otherwise!

After weeks of hard work and dedication, the company saw something in me and I was offered the position of Digital Marketing Executive here. If I didn’t complete those internships I truly believe that I would not be sitting in the office today writing this for you! So if you’re thinking of doing an internship, here’s some advice to make it worthwhile.

1. Your goals need to come first

When applying for an Internship, keep your goals in mind. If you want to be a Software Engineer, why would you do a Business Development internship if this isn’t something you enjoy, what you know well or what you want as a career? An internship is there to help you. A key to getting your foot on the ladder in whatever industry you wish to be in.

2. Research has got to be done

Please please do this. It’s distressingly awkward for both the employer and the intern finding out they have no knowledge of the business whatsoever. It’ll set you off on the wrong foot and first impressions always matter, remember that. Before starting in My Baggage, I spent my own time doing a little background research on the company. I learnt about the services they offer, the team, the business history, articles about them from the media and importantly, the marketing they do and thought about what I could bring to the company.

3. Showing interest is a good sign

We all know that being lazy and not caring in situations like this will literally get you nowhere. If you’re not genuinely interested about anything you’re learning then you probably shouldn’t be there. Showing interest can be simply listening properly when spoken to, excellent quality of work or the best way to do so is sharing thoughts and ideas for improvement!

4. Networking gets you further

It’s not that common for people to already have a big network of individuals from their chosen industry before working/interning. If you’re about to start an internship, make sure to create a LinkedIn profile to connect with your colleagues. If your role requires working with clients or attending conferences, that’s a perfect way to meet to contacts and add them to your network. There’s now a new tool on LinkedIn, where you can scan another person’s bar-code to add them to your list so it doesn’t have to be super awkward if you’re panicking and end up forget their name after chatting. 

Networking can help you further your career by speaking to others and hearing their opinions on particular trends happening within the industry you are in and discussions on each others work, allowing you to have a lot more knowledge which should encourage constant improvement and creativity.

5. Progression is key

You’re taking an internship to progress, the company you’re interning for want you to work but they also want you to learn new things and give you the opportunity to become more employable. If you don’t feel like you’re progressing then this really isn’t good enough, what will you say you learnt from your internship on your next interview? It won’t look bad on the business, it’ll make you look bad and is likely to discourage employers when recruiting.

So, if you get caught doing too many tasks that aren’t challenging you or you’re not learning enough then ask for more. Discuss with your line of contact what it is you would like to gain from this internship. My manager at My Baggage was extremely understanding of this when I joined and on numerous occasions, she would remind me that it’s totally ok if I wanted to learn something new that we hadn’t looked at before, all I had to do was ask!

6. If you don’t understand something…tell someone

Don’t be polite and say you understand something if you don’t. It will get you nowhere and you’ll end up looking worse for doing so, even though this was not your intention. Internships are all about learning, you aren’t expected to arrive knowing how to do everything and anything the business asks from you!

However, you’re meant to leave that way. If the company you’re interning for has a good understanding of internships, they infidelity shouldn’t be concerned if you ask for help or need retaught something again to refresh your mind.

I dread to think of just how many silly questions I have asked during my time here. But you’ve got to know that it’s ok and there really is no such thing as a silly question. Everyone learns things differently and of course at different paces, some will be better at one thing and not so great with other and that’s totally fine! Here at My Baggage, I felt super comfortable when asking questions as an intern as it’s all about progression.

7. You learn to look on the bright side

Unfortunately, the majority of internships are unpaid, which is a big reason why people don’t apply for them. Many often think because they’ve got a degree or another valid qualification that they should get high-paying work and yes, of course, you should. But it’s super-duper hard to do that these days! You’ve got to look on the bright side though, think of where an internship could get you. Look at me, I completed four internships and I’ve landed a job in a company I’m extremely happy in. Without internships, I’d be lost!

You never know, the experience you gain from your internship could lead you into a high-paying job or even help you towards bagging yourself a promotion in later years. Having an internship screams to employers that you are eager to succeed and genuinely care about your career, that it’s not all about the money to you and that have a true passion for what you do.

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