It isn’t hard to notice that internship is getting more important among the undergraduates in Malaysia. Many universities are trying to push their students to explore as many of internships as possible before their convocations.
“Please, let me enjoy my break! I have plenty of chances to work for the rest of my life.”
We know how it feels like to let the internship occupied your term break. We also understand a lot of students might be demotivated by the remuneration package of most internships. Yes, you might even earn more money by doing part-time jobs. However, the main point of the internship is more about the learning.
Today, we are going to walk you through the importance of internship and some honest advice about career progressions that every undergraduate should read.
#1 Why internship is important to me?
Let’s talk about reality. As the number of degree holders is increasing globally, it is getting harder for fresh grads to get a job without any working experience.
“So you’re telling me I have to get experience before I get experience?”
If this is what you’re wondering, yup, BINGO. And the best way of getting the experiences, relevant knowledge and skills that you need is through internships.
An internship is your best opportunity to get involved in a real company in the industry of your choice. As an intern, you will be given the chance to observe and assist the current employees in their work, gaining the first-hand experience of the field in which you want to start a career.
Internship experiences not only can beautify your CV, they also help to develop the professional attitude of your chosen field. You will learn about how professionals in the field behave and speak, this will surely increase your employability.
Another perk of being an intern in your future industry is to establish your professional connections. Connections are crucial in businesses. You have to get other people to know you and remember you so that they will think of you when there is a relevant opportunity.
The internship is very helpful to your career progressions. Therefore, please take it seriously and do it right.
#2 When should I start searching for an internship?
Assuming that you expect to secure a good job offer after you graduated, you have to start exploring internships earlier than that. If you are really serious about building a perfect fresh grads CV, or you want to explore a few industries, it’s not crazy to intern more than once.
As the candidates screening and interview sessions may take times, you should start searching and applying for internships at least 2 months before your break.
#3 What kind of internship should I look for?
This depends on what are your career interests and goals.
If you’re very firm about your career interests, you can aim for the available opportunities in the field of your choice. If you’re not, we advise you to take the advantage of internships to work for different industries to “test the waters”. This is a thing that you can never learn from textbooks.
For example, if you studied graphic design, you can try to intern in an agency, a small enterprise and an established corporate. We can’t say any of these working environments is better than others, but you have to find out you are more suitable to work in which of these. So, in future, you won’t need to suffer in an environment that you dislike.
“I can change job when I’m unhappy.”
Theoretically, you are right. Practically you aren’t.
Employers will judge candidates based on how frequent they change jobs. They would also be suspicious if you resigned without a new job. The internship is your only chance to explore your career options.
Imagine yourself being questioned by interviewers why you did more than one internships and you go “Because I want to know which kind of environment can fully unlock my potentials. Based on my real-life experiences, I’m certain that an organization like yours is the place that I’ve been looking for.”
#4 How to apply for internship and be employed?
Many employers are very keen to give opportunities for interns. You can join Facebook communities related to internships, search on LinkedIn, keep an eye on your school’s bulletins, follow the social pages of the companies that you’re interested or even write to your favourite company to offer yourself as an intern.
As a student, you might not have work experiences to showcase on your CV, the alternative will be writing a good cover letter. Your internship cover letter should focus on what you want to learn and do. Start the letter by introducing yourself, state the position of which you’re applying, then briefly talk about your current studies and your future career projection. You will also need to do some research about the company and mention what are the coming projects that you’d love to be involved. Before closing the letter with your contact information, you can also discuss how an internship with the company can help you to reach your career goals.
The key to the cover letter is to be honest about your words. Also, don’t send generic cover letters to all companies.
If you’re given a chance to attend an interview, don’t be freak out. Wear appropriately (the safest dress code is smart casual/semi-formal), trim your fingernails, comb your hairs nicely and speak politely during the interview. Be confident but do not oversell yourself. All of these are applicable for every interview that you will be going through in your future.
#1 Don’t Show Attitude
One thing you should really take note: The world is actually very small.
Showing attitude in a workplace, especially when you’re still young, is the worst act. Even when someone did you wrong, you must not show your attitude. You think you’re punishing someone, but you’re actually jeopardizing yourself.
#2 Don’t Refuse to do Simpler Tasks
“I come to learn. If I won’t learn anything by doing this, I won’t do.”
This is a good example of a bad attitude. If you are really trying to learn, you shouldn’t have that mindset of you won’t learn anything by doing simpler works.
If you’re wondering why you’re assigned to do simpler tasks, you can ask appropriate questions like “Can I know how is this process helping the whole organization?” or “May I know what are the things that you’ve learnt by doing this back then?”
This is the right attitude of learning.
#3 Alternatives to Internships
As much as we know the benefits of internships, there are people who can’t afford to work as an intern. Most companies offer monthly allowances ranging from RM500 to RM700 to interns. For students who need to work to support themselves, working full time for RM700 per month is not practical.
Instead of looking for random part-time jobs, you can look for companies in your fields of interests that offer part-time or 3 months contract jobs.
For example, if you want to be a UI/UX designer, you can work part-time in a tech startup call centre to see what the frequent problems are users facing.
Besides, you can also do volunteer works in your free time. Employers prefer candidates that have commitments to causes that they care about because these people normally possess good intrinsic value.
#4 Start Building Your Portfolio
Although when we read about requirements of jobs, in most cases the first one will be your education level, the employers are less likely to ask candidates to prove their qualification. However, they will always ask you to prove what are the things that you’ve done or created.
Therefore, a portfolio of your works and testimonials of your clients, colleagues and managers are very important. If your university didn’t prepare an evaluation form for your employers to fill in after you completed the internship, prepare one for yourself. Keep track of your works and testimonials, they will be very handy during interviews.
We hope this guide is helpful. Please share it with all the undergrads that you care about. Let us know if you have other important advice for the students.
We hope everyone finds their success 😊 Let’s be top-notch together with TopNotch!