If I could start my university time again, I would have done things differently’: advice on summer internships from a recent graduate.

If you are still unsure on applying for summer internships for next summer, here are some words of advice from a recent University of Manchester graduate Justin Colver on why he values internships, what he would have done differently and how he thinks internships can benefit you in finding future jobs.

“I didn’t apply for internships in either first or second year and I wish I had. The reason wasn’t just laziness, it was because I neither knew what I wanted to do, nor thought I stood a chance of being successful, especially as I thought I would be looking at the “big 4” accountancy firms.”

Career ‘inertia’ is a real danger which can occur when you have lots of options and aren’t sure which to choose, or perhaps think it’s best to wait to see what happens – things will become clearer later on, won’t they? Well, not in Justin’s experience. Often you have to just try things to see what you really enjoy.

“It really doesn’t matter if you have no idea what you want to do, just try and get [some] sort of internship sorted out. Even if you don’t think your CV is strong enough for the big firms, try to get an internship with another firm, even if it isn’t particularly the field you wanted to enter. You may find you enjoy that line of work, and you also become aware of the different types of jobs there are out there.”

Although he was only aware of accountancy jobs at the time, looking back he would have loved to have done an internship in other areas including ‘marketing, communications, HR, Procurement etc’. It’s surprising how many students only apply to the biggest firms or get deterred by the competition. The Careers Service deals with a lot of smaller businesses too, great opportunities where you may not face the same competition to get an internship.

In his second year, Justin says that he didn’t realise that there were so many ‘easier yet still great alternatives’. From Justin’s experience to have an internship in any area of business would help for future applications for graduate programmes. With professional experience you can demonstrate to employers that you developed relevant transferable skills for their role. And remember, your pre-final year is when a lot of organisations open their doors for summer internships – miss this opportunity and you may not get another chance to put that great bit of experience on your CV!

In Justin’s words this is what he has learnt about internships:

  • It is a necessity for many employers and shows that you are motivated
  • They are very useful for many questions which are asked at interview such as when you are working in a team etc
  • They [internships] are a good time to see what actually goes on in the workplace and should help people get an idea of what they want to do.

If you need any information and advice on compiling your CV, covering letter or application for an internship see our Career Service Starting Point guides online or to pick up in person from the Careers Resource Centre, and get further advice when you have tailored your internship application through the Quick Query service. There is also more information on Work Experience and internships on our website.

All Undergraduate

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