Where and how to get an internship?


Whatever your background is, an internship is a milestone in your training. An internship is the first professional experience and your first entry into a profession that interests you. An internship is also a way to test your skills in the field you're interested in. For all these reasons, searching for an internship can seem intimidating, because it is similar to searching for a real job. To get the perfect internship for you, you will need motivation and organisation. Discover all our tips on finding an internship!

1. Where to find an internship

The first mistake is not knowing where to search. Luckily, you have valuable help: the Internet. Nowadays, many companies use online tools to scout young recruits and to give them the opportunity to stand out. Like:

  • Forums or fairs;
  • Job boards such as Welcome to the jungle or Glassdor;
  • Social Media: LinkedIN;
  • Careers Page;
  • Sending them a a speculative application.;

2. 8 steps to find a internship

Looking for an internship means putting all the chances on your side to make the opportunity of your dreams come true. Follow our tips to find an internship quickly!

1. Determine your career goals and interests

An internship is often your first professional experience. However, you are much more than just your professional experiences! Do you like to draw and to share your art on social media? Have you been playing rugby since you were a child? You're a DIY enthusiast, jack of all trades who built your own computer? Each personal project, be it associative, academic, or as a hobby, shines a light on some of your skills and interests. These genuine human skills, known as soft skills, are highly sought-after by hiring managers. Indeed, with these skills, your application is sure to stand out. Review your interests and look for positions that will put your personal qualities to good use! This will allow you to stand out during an interview, for example.

2. Start searching early (and at the right time)

The watchword of the job market: first come, first served! The earlier you start searching for your internship, the more numerous the offers will be and the more time you will have to flesh out your applications. On the contrary, search an internship at the last moment and you will have to go for any offer available. However, taking the time to write a serious and targeted application is the key to success. Typically, you may need to search for opportunities about 3 months in advance. Pro tip: aim for an empty slot in your schedule, so that you can dedicate yourself to your research!

3. Do your research about the companies

To find an internship in a company, the first step is to... find a company. Just like you determined your interests, you should be able to say if a company meets your criteria or not. To do so, spend time on hiring platforms, compare sites and monitor the professional networks of company’s employees. The more information you have about the company, the more options you will have to choose the opportunity that suits you best. You should keep this in mind in your internship search, and all the more so during your job interview. Remember: the hiring process is an exchange. Your profile and your skills interest the company, but what can the company bring you in return?

4. Write a personnalised CV and cover letter

Yes, writing a personalised CV and cover letter for each and every internship takes longer than applying with generic documents to every offer meeting roughly what you are looking for. However, to catch the hiring manager's eye, you have to show him/her that you’re very interested in that company! Ask yourself why you are applying for this company precisely: even if it's not the company of your dreams, state at least two reasons (apart from the salary) why you want to find an internship in this company. A personalised and researched application is just further proof of your motivation, an argument enabling you to stand out from the other candidates.

5. Be present and active on LinkedIn: social media is you best ally

Social media can greatly motivate and accelerate your research. Think about it: your first move is to do your research about the companies that interest you. So why wouldn't the companies do the exact same thing with potential candidates! Hence, you must be present on professional networks and highlight personal projects and the skills you acquired during these experiences. However, take care of your e-reputation: make sure that your New Year's Facebook pictures and your colourful tweets about the last football match cannot be seen by the hiring managers! In the professional context, LinkedIn is the king: keep your profile up to date, add your classmates and your colleagues, emphasise your experiences. In short, create an efficient network suiting your professional wishes.

6. Send speculative applications

No offer does not mean no need: on the contrary, a speculative application is a way to make your profile known and to show the company that you are motivated. In this case, since you have no offer to base your application on, you have to be as enthusiastic as possible in your cover letter and your CV. Prove to the company that you are the candidate they did not know they needed. In the worst-case scenario, the company will answer you that they are not looking for anybody at the moment. Use this opportunity to make a contact and to let the company know that you will be there if and when an opportunity arises.

7. Follow up your application

Do you feel overwhelmed by your internship applications? Guess what, a hiring manager faces dozens of applications at the same time! That's why you should not be afraid to send a follow-up email. Of course, do not spam the company two days later. However, a week later, you should send an email or call your contact directly. The same goes after an interview. Once more, sending a follow-up shows your motivation and makes you stand out more in the eyes of the hiring manager. And if your follow-up gets a negative reply, do not hesitate to ask the reasons why. Every answer is good to take! You will be able to improve yourself for your next internship.

Follow-up email template

Dear Sir or Madam [name of the hiring manager],

I wanted to follow up on the email I sent you on [date] concerning my application for the position of [job title].

I hope that you received my CV and cover letter. I am currently studying [name of your course], and I am still extremely interested by an internship within your company. This opportunity would allow me to put the [examples of skills] I acquired during [examples of professional experiences] to good use.

Please do not hesitate to contact me to discuss my application further,

Yours sincerely,

8. Prepare for the interview

Once you spent several hours on your application, the interview is often seen as the ultimate achievement. However, do not count your chickens before they hatch: the interview is the first real meeting with the hiring manager, and it is often a key step to choosing you (or not.) Hence why it is important to prepare your interview:

  • First, the usual rules of politeness still apply in the professional context.

  • Second, the hiring manager has done his/her research on you: you should be as prepared as your interviewer and make him/her want to know you better. To do so, you can ask your friends and family to hold mock interviews.

  • Third, hiring questions should not scare you: take them as opportunities to express yourself, and do not hesitate to ask questions about daily life within the company, the advantages of the position and possible career paths (especially if your studies end soon). This amount of preparation is the ultimate proof of your motivation!

Finally, thanking the hiring manager by mail after your interview is a good idea. A polite move always helps you stand out!

Key takeaways

To find an internship, you must be proactive. You must stay mobilised at every step of your research: from determining your criteria to preparing your interview, without forgetting the documents to be provided and getting in contact with the company. The entire internship research process is in your hands. Beyond the skills for the position you are applying for, your internship research mostly tests your motivation and your organisation. Here is the good news: these skills are highly sought-after by hiring managers. In other words, every internship search, whether it results in a contract or not, is a most valuable experience! Interested in a banking internship? Why not put our tips into practice and take a look at the internship offers at Societe Generale!