How to Stand Out in Your Internship Application
July 23, 2021
Doing an internship as an international student is one of the best ways to improve your chances of landing your dream job after university. Not only does it give you invaluable working experience and something interesting to put on your CV, but it also gives you useful industry connections that may end up helping you find employment after graduation.
But securing an internship is easier said than done. Recruiters for the most popular programmes sometimes have to go through hundreds and even thousands of applications from students looking to get a foot in the door. So how do you make yours stand out?
The good news is that there are some simple steps you can take to make your internship application more memorable and give you a better chance of securing a spot. From personalising your applications to using your international student status to your advantage, here are our top tips.
1. Use your experiences as an international student to your advantage
The job market is really competitive, so your best chance of success is to make yourself stand out. As many companies are starting to have more of a global outlook, your knowledge of other cultures and languages as an international student can be a really useful added extra.
Other soft skills like adaptability, perseverance and attention to detail are also highly desirable to most workplaces. Think about how much organisation and paperwork it took to secure your visa and study abroad. Not only does the process require a high level of organisation and determination, but studying abroad, in general, shows your openness to new ideas and perspectives. These are all desirable qualities for employers, so make sure to mention them in your applications.
Above all, don’t be afraid to “show off” on your CV and cover letters. Employers read through so many applications so they are always keen to see applicants with a different set of experiences and transferable skills.
2. Personalise your applications
As tempting as it is, one of the biggest mistakes you can make when putting together an internship application is making a “one-size fits all” CV and cover letter. Though you could create a basic template to use for all your applications, you will find you’re more likely to be successful if you make each application unique.
You should look at the internship’s description, as well as the values and missions of the company. Base your application on these elements, and spell out clearly why you’re a good fit for their company in particular, not just the general industry. A surprising number of people choose to use a generic CV for all applications, so spending a little extra time to personalise it is an easy way to get ahead.
3. Demonstrate your competencies
Before you write your application, have another look at the internship’s job description. What kind of skills are they looking for you to have already? What tasks will you be doing day-to-day? You should clearly demonstrate to potential employers that you have the relevant core skills and enthusiasm to learn that will make you a good fit for the company.
Draw from your experiences as an international student to demonstrate times you’ve used critical thinking collaboration or communication skills. These don’t have to be in a professional setting; as long as you can translate them into how they make you the right person for the job. For example, have you ever come across language barriers, or have you ever encountered any problems with a visa? How did you go about solving these problems and which skills did you use to do so?
4. Let your personality shine through
When writing your application, put yourself in the shoes of the recruiter. You can probably imagine that when reading hundreds of applications, it’s going to feel dull and repetitive. So, make your application memorable (but still professional) so they remember your name.
The best way of doing this? Just by being yourself and letting your personality shine through. Of course, what they’re most interested in is your past experiences, but by giving them a sense of who you are as a person, you can help them envision how you will fit into the company.
5. Get someone else to look over your application
Whether this is your first internship application or your hundredth, we’re all guilty of making the occasional spelling error or silly mistake. Try to finish your application well in advance of the deadline and get a friend or family member to read it over and suggest improvements and point out any errors.
Remember to make the most of your university’s career services. Most universities have a policy whereby they provide support to recent graduates too, so it’s worth reaching out to them if you graduated within the last few years. A careers advisor will be able to review your CV and cover letter and give you tips on how to improve your application. They can even help you prepare for the interview if you get to the next stage.
Written by Talya Honebeek
Talya is a freelance writer and Journalism Master’s student at the University of Sunderland, writing about everything from fashion and lifestyle to education.
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