Internships, internships, internships: At my university that’s all anyone seems to talk about, and this time last year it was starting to freak me out!
You see, at the London School of Economics I am surrounded by lots of really clever economists and finance geniuses, not to mention those who study law or management. These are the lucky few who have their career paths laid out in front of them; the ones we give evils to across the library floor, the ones who have it all too easy!
‘But what about the rest of us’, we chant in chorus, ‘what hope is there for us?’
Well today I am here to tell you not to panic. There are in fact a huge number of internship opportunities out there for people just like you and I in a wide variety of industries and roles, two of which I would like to share my experience of.
During the past year I have been working as an intern one day a week at the one and only WEXO, looking at ways to develop their student marketing campaigns. This has given me a great insight into what it’s like to work for a growing start-up and the sort of responsibility this entails.
There are loads of advantages to working for a small firm, particularly as an intern. Because there are fewer employees than in a big corporation you get much more of an overview of how the whole company runs, and hopefully get to help out with lots of different aspects of the firm. This is a fantastic opportunity if you are not sure what role you see yourself doing in future (which let’s face it, most of us don’t). The breadth of experience available at small firms is invaluable and I believe there is a huge amount of satisfaction in seeing your ideas come to life.
It’s a steep learning curve and you may feel like you’re being thrown in at the deep end at first, but I believe it is definitely the best way to learn. From a social perspective, working at a small start-up is usually a lot of fun and more laid-back than may be the case at some of the bigger firms. Moreover the people you work with are the sort of people who are really entrepreneurial and full of great ideas. This is what I really love about being part of the super cool WEXO family.
On the other side of the coin, you have the ‘Big Guys’. These are the firms with thousands of employees, those annoyingly long application forms and really structured internship schemes. I have to be honest the combination of these factors was rather off-putting for me; I was intimidated to approach any of the big firms like L’Oreal and Procter and Gamble because I felt like a very small fish in a very big pond!
I finally plucked up the courage to send my application off to P&G on the day of the deadline and if I’m honest I didn’t expect a response. However, it turns out the work I had been doing at WEXO was pretty interesting to the ‘Big Guys’ and I was fortunate to be offered a summer internship working in Sales at P&G.
This was a fantastic experience and I was able to learn a huge amount about the world of business, how to persuasively present my ideas and how to effectively manage a group of people as well as sales skills relevant to my role. I met some great people at P&G and made some excellent contacts. I’m not going pull the wool over your eyes however: there were some really long days, and the work was challenging but fortunately there were lots of people to help me through and teach me the ropes. It was great to be able to work so closely with some really knowledgeable people.
I truly believe that getting yourself an internship is an invaluable career opportunity. For me personally, it is really a case of: ‘You don’t realise just how much you don’t know until you’ve done one!’ I truly feel in a much stronger position applying to jobs now than I would have been without these experiences on my CV. Of course for employers, the fact that you have gone out there and used your free time to learn new skills and take an interest in the world of work is a big tick in their box!
Whether you chose to intern at a small start-up or a big corporation is a personal preference. Both offer fantastic opportunities to learn and personally develop your own skills and confidence. If you can, try both. You can never have too much experience! WEXO have some amazing opportunities on their site that I would definitely advise applying for. Equally you should have a look at some corporate schemes and really work out what you feel suits you best.
There really are so many opportunities out there for people just like you and me.
Now it’s up to you to make them your own!