Looking for an internship can bring anxious times for every student with thousands of questions many of your minds… When to start? Which experiences to choose for the CV? How to apply? It is a difficult job that requires a lot of time and effort. But don't panic! We have listed for you some of the best practices to succeed with your application!
1. Know yourself
First of all, it is important to know yourself. Your internship should not only correspond to your professional project, but also be in line with your values. It is important to choose a company that shares your values so that you can grow and develop personally there. Moreover, being in correlation with the company's values can also play in your favour during your interviews!
2. When to start?
It is important not to start your research a few weeks before the start of the internship period for several reasons. Firstly, starting to apply a few months in advance can put you in a position where you have a choice. If you think about it, it’s much easier to find the ideal internship when you have a wide range of choices. Also, the closer the deadline approaches, the more anxiety you are likely to feel when you don't have an internship. So, for your personal well-being, look fairly ahead! However, be careful not to apply too early... Obviously, if you send your CV 8 months before the internship, there's a good chance it will get lost in a big tower of papers!
3. Where to look for an internship?
The Internet is a magical tool that allows us to find more possibilities than we could have ever imagined, so take advantage of it! There are many platforms offering internships, whether in Belgium or elsewhere: Jobteaser, Welcome to the Jungle, aidostage... But one tool is often forgotten when looking for an internship: LinkedIn! Indeed, many employers are very present on LinkedIn for a very simple reason: some companies can receive hundreds of CVs per day, each one more beautiful and personalised than the other. However, filling in your profile on LinkedIn allows you to have a standardised CV that will be quick and easy to read for the employer who is used to LinkedIn, so it's up to you!
Some platforms also offer meeting days with employers, so don't hesitate to sign up. You can ask your questions, and if it's in person, leave your little CV!
4. Talking about CV…
The CV is the first impression you make on the employer, so it must be perfect, and above all clear! It is a good idea to start your CV with a short introductory sentence - what you are looking for, for how long, and sometimes even the reasons why (to apply for a work experience program later, to gain experience...). If you have a lot of experience, it is better to personalise the CV for the different offers by putting only the experience relevant to the position you are applying for. As far as skills are concerned, in addition to languages and their level, do not hesitate to put all your IT skills, including those that seem like common sense. Never forget that not everyone is at ease with new technologies, so it is essential to mention your mastery of any software! Finally, specifying your interests can be beneficial in an interview. Who knows, you may share a great hobby with your future employer! This can create a topic during an interview and make you feel more at ease. And of course, we can never tell you enough, it is imperative that there are no spelling mistakes, so don't hesitate to have all your friends read your CV again!
PS: as far as the photo on the CV is concerned, even if it is less and less common, check the standards according to the country where you are applying to.
5. Cover letter
This is a much-discussed topic. Some companies ask for it, others avoid it at all costs. However, if it is requested in the offer, your best choice is to bring out your storytelling skills and write a personalised letter. You should always carefully list the selection criteria and skills of the company in the offer. Once you have done this, all you have to do is write a paragraph explaining your experiences which have enabled you to acquire the skills and qualities that the company requires
6. The company’s answer…
If the company replies positively and asks you for an interview, make sure you know the company well by doing some research beforehand. And above all, don't stress! You have already passed the big CV stage, so be confident and show the best at the interview.
It can also happen that the company’s reply is not positive, but don't be discouraged! In addition, just as you took the time to apply, the employer took the time to reply. So, a little message thanking the person for taking the time to analyse your application and reply will always be appreciated. A little gesture that not everyone thinks of, can make the company keep your application for later!