For many students and fresh graduates, the thought of how to get an internship with no experience can be daunting. With stories circulating of a saturated job market and a lack of available positions, it’s no wonder you feel apprehensive about the process.
We’ve all heard tales of students who were unable to secure internships, and it’s a legitimate concern for those with little to no experience in their chosen field.
But fear not, because I’ve been in your shoes before and I know how you feel. It’s completely natural to be worried about this.
That’s why I’ve put together some invaluable tips on how to get an internship with no experience.
Why is internship experience important?
There are countless reasons why gaining internship experience is vital. Not only is it an integral part of the learning process, but it also counts towards your academic journey. In fact, most schools even grade you on your experience and require a presentation upon your return.
But beyond academic considerations, securing an internship can be an incredible opportunity to gain invaluable skills, make professional connections, and ultimately set yourself up for future success.
It exposes you to industry concepts
You may have learned the theory, done some workshops, or attended field sessions. However, nothing beats learning in a real-life scenario with other professionals. Internship crystallizes all your classwork with current industry methods and technologies.
Interactions with experts, even where you’re not directly involved in the process, can further reinforce your learning
It presents an opportunity to build your network
It is possible to form lifetime networks and relationships from your internship. Interns often return after graduation to continue as staff because they formed great relationships with company staff during internships.
These relationships can be helpful even beyond career and spill into other facets of life. Maximize your internship to build valuable relationships.
It builds your self-confidence
A stellar internship experience is an incredible confidence booster. You get to witness the inner workings of the industry, participate in conferences and presentations, and analyze real-life data. This immersive experience has the potential to elevate you above and beyond the average student.
How to get an internship with no experience
Like all things in life, you have to prepare properly to secure an internship, whether you have experience or not. However, and to be honest, it is generally expected that as a student you will have almost zero experience, but there are some things that can count in your favor.
Knowing how to get an internship with no experience and preparing ahead will set you apart from others vying for the same positions. Here are some practical steps you can follow to land an internship position even if you have no experience.
Do your research on time
Researching your chosen industry and internship recruitment timelines of your dream companies well ahead of time is essential.
The earlier you start planning, the better. Ideally, use the holidays before the semester begins to gather information and prepare your CV or application letters in advance.
This is helpful so that by the time you resume academic activities, you have most of the information you need, have likely prepared your CV or application letters ahead, and are ready to “hit send” once any internship opportunity arises.
With early preparation, you can also know when companies of interest typically recruit interns and could devise strategies to send in your unsolicited applications.
Prepare your CV and cover letter/email drafts
I always say that your first CV is always a revealer of how much you’ve been able to achieve so far. It’s normal if you can barely populate the first page. It doesn’t have to be too bulky but it should highlight some transferable skills or academic achievements you currently have.
The same goes for your cover letter. Of course, the contents may differ, for example, if you’re applying as a computer science or medical intern, but the general intent is the same – for the document to highlight who you are, how you can contribute, and your eagerness to learn.
Apply, apply, apply
At the end of the day, you will only do one internship (or at the best switch to about 2 or 3) during one internship window realistically. So keep sending your CVs, keep knocking on those gates, and you can even cold call (be polite about it), but by all means, apply.
Spread the word around that you’re available to intern. It doesn’t matter if it’s 101 companies you apply to; it’ll all pay off when you secure an internship.
Don’t be afraid to hear ‘no’
Like pointed out above, you may have 99 no’s but you only need one ‘yes’ to get an internship. Don’t be afraid to hear no, you can’t intern for everyone, everywhere, all at once; you have to be in one place at a time.
So when one company says no, it doesn’t mean you can’t still hear a ‘yes’ on the next, 10th, or 39th try. Keep knocking until a door opens.
Prepare for the interview
Ensure you prepare properly when you get invited for an interview. Treat it like it’s the only opportunity you have and give it a 101% plus extra. Research the company, read about the role, be ready to discuss past experiences when asked, and so on.
However, should it not work out, Return to step three and keep applying. It’s only a minor setback on your path to what you want plus you got some interview experience on the side. Still a win in my books.
Consider volunteering as well. There are certain courses that go well with volunteering (such as public health or environmental studies), so volunteering can also be a way to do an ‘internship’ even when you don’t have experience.
I hope you have been able to learn some valuable lessons on how to get an internship with no experience. Early but proper preparation, perseverance, and a commitment to excellence are key factors that can help you secure that internship slot even when you’ve never worked before.
Have a story to share on securing an internship? Hit me in the comments below!