Posted Dec. 17, 2018
Relevant work experience is an important part of gaining access to your postgraduate course in the first place and then securing that first postgraduate job after you have graduated.
But how do you go about getting a postgraduate internship and when is the best time to do one?
Here we take a look.
How important are postgraduate internships?
Postgraduate internships help guide you to the area you would like to focus on and will help you make contacts within the industry as well as showing future employers that someone was willing to hire you. If you're considering an internship before applying for a course, then speak with someone involved with the course to check it's the right sort of internship. Then while you're on the internship you can speak with those working in the field to check that the course you're considering is the right next step. That's the importance of postgraduate internships; making valuable contacts that can help you access the next career move you make.
What courses are internships most relevant for?
Some postgraduate courses have internships built in by necessity, such as the MSc in Electronic Engineering at the University of York and many other science-based subjects. Other courses and careers, such as journalism, are built on your experience, so building up plenty of work experience is vital to getting that first job after you complete your studies.
Where should you look?
Your university's career service is a good place to start with, but as a postgraduate, you will find that most of the work is up to you. Attending networking events and keep reading industry magazines and publications is a necessary part of the process. Approach companies or businesses you would like to intern in and be bold by asking them directly if they have an internship program or if they would consider an intern.
How do you get a position?
Unless you are applying for a formal internship with an application process, you will need to be proactive. If you find the person that is responsible for internships then contact them right away and send them your CV and covering letter. Ensure that your CV highlights why you would be suitable for this particular business or organisation and personalise your cover letter to show that you are enthusiastic about the organisation. Follow up sending your CV in with a phone call to check that they've received it and in case you need to answer any questions. Bear in mind that your contact might be busy, so do be patient.
When is the right time?
If your internship is not part of your course, then you do need to think seriously about when is a good time for you to complete an internship. This is especially important if it is unpaid – and around 40% of young people have done unpaid internships. Do you have the funding in place to undertake an unpaid internship during the holidays? Or do you have any spare hours during term-time to work a little each week? Perhaps after the course is finished would be a more appropriate time for you to undertake an internship. Contact current and former students through social media and alumni organisations to find out what the experience of studying the course is like before you make any decisions. It would be unfortunate to start the internship and not be able to complete it – so timing really is of the essence.
Internship salaries by country
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