Getting work experience in the summer can sometimes seem like a bit of a minefield. It’s rare to see placements advertised, and yet so many people seem to get them. So what’s the secret? Look no further than Genevieve's top 5 tips!
1) Be persistent
While it might be tempting to just send off one application form to a company you would love to
intern with, and wait for their reply, unfortunately this isn’t a very realistic strategy. Lots of
companies receive so many applications that they cannot reply to each one, and so you might be
This might not be the most comforting advice, but what I have found to be the best strategy is to
apply to a happy medium amount of companies. Don’t just apply to the companies you know
you would love to work at; keep an open mind and think a little out-of-the-box. I did some work
experience at an internal communications company a year ago. Before researching, I didn’t even
know what an internal communications company was, but I found the work experience really
helpful. Remember, choosing a company to intern for is not the same as choosing as choosing your degree!
Of course, there’s no sense in applying to a company you have no interest in just for the
sake of it, but try not to think too narrowly, and apply to as many as you think you can
realistically put effort into.
2) Try smaller companies
Now, sometimes it can be the larger, more well-known companies that seem more appealing.
And maybe there is some truth in that larger companies have more capacity to take on paid
interns. However, if you’re able to do some unpaid work, try some smaller local companies to
you, and see if you get any responses. This is often the best way to get experience, as they are
likely to have far fewer applications.
Smaller companies can also offer great experience, as it’s easier to get to know lots of different
roles in the company, rather than just finding out about one sector. You might be in an office
with people from all different departments, so you can find out more about how the company
works as a whole.
3) Ask for less, and then impress
Often, companies might not want to commit to long periods, unless they undertake a formal
interview process. So, if you can get even a few days in the office, you can make sure you
impress them and then potentially ask for longer!
Even if you don’t end up getting longer, even a couple of days in a business can help you to
understand the sector more fully, and will help you in future interviews. Particularly for
speculative applications, where there isn’t a placement advertised, asking for shorter
placements might be a good plan!
Another option is to ask for a staggered internship: to go in perhaps one morning a week for a
period of time. This might seem like a less intense commitment for the company, as it only
amounts to a small amount of their time every week. However, it could be just as useful for you.
If you work with your tutor to get ahead in your studies over summer, giving up a morning of
your study time each week might actually become a positive and productive break.
4) Get help from connections
Now, this might be your personal connections. It might be that you know of someone who is in
the job you want. Or maybe they work for a company you would like to work at. What’s the
harm in asking if they might have some internship opportunities, or know of a company who do?
The people with the best links in your field are those currently working in it.
It might also be worth asking your careers advisor in your school, college or university.
Personally I have gained work experience through a university scheme which I didn’t know about
before I reached out and asked. There may be bursaries available for unpaid work experience, or
it might be that the careers advisors simply have some connections in different industries. It’s
definitely worth asking!
5) Use websites to your advantage
There are some great websites that can really help with searching for internships. If you’re
looking for something in the creative industry, I can really recommend Creative Access. They are
a company helping to make the creative industry easier to get into, and they have great
opportunities on their site.
If you’re looking for companies that don’t advertise work experience (which I’d recommend
search a job title in the field you would like to go into. For instance, you might search
“communications officer”. Then what you will receive is essentially a list of companies who have
the department you are after, and you can start checking out their websites and seeing if you’re
interested in interning there.
The internet is a powerful tool in finding work experience, but don’t forget that writing cover
letters isn’t as quick a process as clicking around a company website. Take your time to perfect
your application, and you’ll be interning in no time!
Blog Post Crafted by Genevieve
Born in Coventry, she now tutors English SATs and GCSE in her free time, as well as working for the university as an outreach ambassador in local schools.
She also enjoys playing piano and flute, and often performs as a backing singer at local gigs.
Whenever she has a moment to spare, you might find her driving to the beach or catching up on her reading!