Having a career is essential for everyone. But to get your career started, you need an internship first. Lydia Wan and Christopher Tran, close relations to JA Australia have provided insight into the specific 'benchmarks' that you should have for all applications.
The Cover Letter
Your cover letter is the first impression your potential employer has of you! It should give an overview of your skills, matched with examples of your experiences to support them. Most importantly, as Lydia Wan, an Operations Advisory Intern at KPMG, advises,“Try and put yourself in an employer’s/HR’s shoes: You want to hire someone that is genuinely passionate about working at your company and appreciates the company division for specific reasons…”
There are many ways you can structure your cover letters. Christopher Tran started as a Google Business Intern last November and is currently a Cadet at PwC. He structures his cover letters by breaking it down into 5 paragraph.
- Paragraph 1: What are the 2-3 most important points the recruiter needs to know about you while addressing what you are applying for.
- Paragraph 2: Why do you want to work in the role you have applied for?
- Paragraph 3: Why do you want to work for the company?
- Paragraph 4: Why you are the best candidate for the position?
- Paragraph 5: Thank the recruiter for their time and consideration.
Recruiters like to measure their candidates’ personality and aptitude to get a solid feel for their suitability for the company. Like interviews, the best way to prepare for these is to practice. There are plenty of useful psychometric tests online or practice tests may be given to you by your employer.
For those of you who struggle with mathematical problems, which are common in psychometric testing, Chris recommends using Excel, “I recommend learning some basic functions of Excel (such as Sum and Average) that will allow you to perform calculations quickly.” However, do not feel discouraged if you struggle with your practice. Lydia advises “that passion always trumps technical experience.”- you can build your algebra skills with practice, but you can’t build authenticity.
Your Personal Branding Pitch
A pitch is the best way to sell a product when entering a new market- you need to sell yourself to the job market. Pull out a 60-second pitch about yourself at networking events where you meet recruiters. Think of yourself as a product and determine “2-3 things you would want people to know about, and are unique to you… your key selling points” as said by Chris. Figure out your values, and the type of image and actions that you want to be known for. However, remember that you can’t just memorise your pitch off by heart- Lydia says that “Pre-prepared acts can only get only so far before they start to crack, so it’s all about highlighting your strengths and knowing when to stop and listen".
If the recruiter is happy with your cover letter and personal brand, then you proceed to the interview stage. Whether it’s in-person, by phone or through video, the interview can be the most nerve-wracking part of the recruitment process. The most vital thing you can do is practice and prepare. As Chris says “the race is won before it begins." Interviews are passed before stepping into the room, and I believe everybody already knows 70% of the interview questions.”
To prepare, you should as Lydia recommends, “…scour the web for common interview questions and categorise the questions in a document based on key attributes outlined in the internship/graduate description.” There are also specific fundamental questions that most interviewers ask which you can ‘draft’ answers to, such as:
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why do you want to work for us?
- What attracts you to this role?
- Why should I hire you?
Internships are great for gaining experience and learning the skills you need to succeed in the industry you’re passionate about. Always remember to “Don’t give up and don’t limit yourself.”, As Lydia says, you want to apply to as many companies as possible to open your options and get tons of chances to practice your technique. Additionally “Preparation will put you ahead.” as Chris advises. Prepare for the application period months in advance take time to research your companies, prepare interview questions or even network with specific divisions on LinkedIn.
If you’re in high school, then research your ideal career field and companies, and go to as many networking/career events as possible once you’re in university (or earlier!).
Follow this advice, and you’ll be interning at your dream company in no time!