Securing an IT work placement or internship isn’t the easiest task. In fact, there are many factors you need to consider before even delving into the world of work experience and graduate opportunities, regardless of the sector you’re planning on working in.
But something that cannot be disputed is the fact that having a work placement or internship listed on your CV will impress future employers and stand you in good stead against other candidates. This is especially true for those leaving university and embarking on the next chapter of their life – according to Rate My Placement, 52 per cent of graduate employers rate an applicant’s chance of employment as ‘not very likely’ if they don’t have previous work experience. Internships and work placements show potential employers that you are serious about your career and that you are willing to spend time developing yourself before you leave university so that you can hit the ground running when you begin your first job.
What most students strive for is a relevant internship that will help them secure a role with their dream employer – but with thousands of companies offering opportunities, how can you sieve the best from the worst?
Here we take a look at what students should look for when selecting an IT work placement or internship and how to impress prospective employers to ensure they get their dream job in IT.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
- Is the placement relevant to your future career? The best internships are those that prepare you for the work you hope to do after graduating from university. Make sure you thoroughly research not only the company offering a placement but also its products and the business itself. Where possible, find out what types of projects or assignments you’d be involved in and what your specific role would be. This will give you a good indication of what skills you’ll be able to learn and then demonstrate when applying for your first graduate job.
- Will you have the opportunity to learn and build your skills? A fundamental part of IT work experience and internships is being exposed to an array of tasks and software that will help upskill you and prepare you for the real thing. We advise candidates to try and find out what the day-to-day duties will include: will you be involved in staff and client meetings? Will you need to learn how to use new software? Will you be required to code? Will you need to assist with research? Will you have any written assignments as part of the placement? Will you be able to shadow an expert and learn more about their specific job? Will you be in a client-facing role? These are all things you should consider so that you can prepare appropriately.
- Will you be paid? Although it’s not compulsory for businesses to offer paid internships, it has become commonplace for bigger companies to pay interns a wage during their placement. It’s important to find out what the company can offer you both financially and developmentally before accepting any offers.
- Will you have a mentor? Having a mentor is highly beneficial if you’re new to the workplace – after all, you’re not going to know everything when you start an internship. Not only will they be able to guide you in your role and provide a helping hand when needed, but they’ll also be able to help you settle into an unfamiliar working environment. A decent internship should ensure that you have someone with the skills, knowledge and education to provide a positive learning experience for you.
- Is there an opportunity for full-time employment? Lots of employers use their graduate schemes and internships as a way to source talent who can progress through the ranks and benefit the business. In addition, employers tend to invest in staff who are already part of the business, as hiring externally and using recruiters can be time-consuming and costly. If you make a long lasting impression, and display the skills the company is looking for, you could have a chance of staying within the company after your internship ends.
- Application dates So you’ve found your preferred IT placement – now what? As the saying goes ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’. Planning ahead and taking note of application opening dates and deadlines will give you plenty of time to tailor your CV for the role, fill out all of the relevant paperwork and prove to the HR manager sifting through applications that you are the best person for the role. Those looking for summer internships should think about applying in the previous autumn, although there are many employers who provide shorter term placement opportunities throughout the year. Every company is different, so as long as you do your research, express your interest in an internship with the company and plan ahead, you’ll be on your way to securing your dream placement.
HOW TO IMPRESS YOUR EMPLOYER
- Arrive on time Everyone wants to make a lasting impression in their new role but if you want to make a good impression, it’s best you don’t turn up late. Poor time keeping is off-putting for employers, and if you’re aiming on securing a full-time, permanent role with the firm after your internship ends, arriving late is not the way to go about it. Be flexible and learn to adapt – you’re not in university anymore and the working world has very different demands that you’ll need to keep up with.
- Dress to impress Knowing what to wear for your first internship can be tricky, so get to know your office culture. Firstly, determine which category your company falls into, and dress accordingly. IT and tech companies usually fall under the business-casual bracket. Top tip: dress for the position that you really want, not the one you have.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions The more you ask, the more you’ll learn! Both employers and mentors should be able to guide you through the different stages of your placement, and will respect those who want to know all the ins and outs of the industry. Top tip: don’t be afraid to express your interest in learning more about the business and put yourself forward for things – employers want people who are keen and willing.
- Keep your phone out of reach Unless it’s one of your job responsibilities, you should leave your phone alone during working hours. Texting your friends, taking personal calls or checking your social media outside your break will look unprofessional, so keep it out of reach until lunch time.
- Be prepared to work hard Internships and graduate opportunities require hard work, determination, drive and long hours. Be prepared to work at a fast pace, work overtime and learn quickly. After all, this company could be your future, permanent employer, so make sure to challenge yourself and, most importantly, treat it like a real job.
Feeling ready? If you’re willing to work hard, learn new skills, give it everything you’ve got and really make the most of the experience, then you’ll gain an incredible insight into an industry that could give you a life-long career.Back