Choosing the right internship can be difficult. There’s rarely going to be one that meets your exact requirements, so you’re going to need to make a decision between multiple opportunities which may seem quite similar.
Picking an internship at random may be tempting, but don’t forget that choosing the right internship has the potential to affect your future career trajectory. You should try and find one that you would both enjoy and looks great on your CV for future job applications. We’ve narrowed down some of the keys questions you should ask yourself when choosing what to apply for, and if you have multiple offers, what to accept.
1. Which sector?
You might not have any idea which sector you want to work in yet, and that’s perfectly fine. Do some research into different sectors and see what appeals to you. The Employment Sectors section of our website should give you a great head start in choosing what sector you would like to start off with, and hopefully help you make an informed decision of where to apply.
2. What will be your specific responsibilities?
Make sure you read the job description and responsibilities that you’ll hold carefully. What you’ll be doing in this internship is what you’ll be putting on your CV for graduate roles, so try and choose something that reflects what you’d like to be doing after you graduate.
3. What will you get paid?
Some internship vacancies don’t state how much they’re going to pay on their initial advertisement. Your internship should comply with the national minimum wage legislation. Hours are normally full time, although some opportunities to work part time during term time may arise.
If you’re not sure how much the internship pays then you can ask at the interview stage. If you do plan to ask about the pay, don’t do it straight away. Try and get a feel for how the interview has gone, and then politely ask near the end if appropriate.
4. Where is it?
This is something you should consider on a couple of levels. First, taking an internship can give you the opportunity to work somewhere completely new, whether it’s a new city or new country. You can find international internship opportunities on Going Global, which current students have access to through LSE.
Secondly, make sure you know where it is in terms of how long your commute is going to be, what transport you’ll need to take, and the cost of the journey so that you can identify whether getting there will be feasible every day.
5. What’s the environment like?
It can be easy to forget just how important the environment of where you’ll be working can be. You’ll potentially be there five days a week for most of your day, so make sure that the company seems to have the right atmosphere for you.
Check out their website and try and find if they offer extra opportunities for growth to their interns. You can also get a good impression of the people you’ll be working with at the interview stage, so make sure that the environment feels right for you.
6. Will you get the opportunity to network?
This is linked to checking what your responsibilities will be. Will you be working mainly on your own, will you be limited to just the single office, or will you get the opportunity to meet people from around the business? It’s always good to meet as many people in the company as possible, as if you make a good impression on them it could help for getting a full-time job there in the long term.
7. What skills will you learn?
When looking at the responsibilities you’ll have, make sure you know what kind of skills that these will translate to so that you’ll be able to make the most of them when they’re on your CV. Will these skills help you find the job you’re hoping for in the long-run and, if so, how are you going to communicate this on your future applications?
8. What are your qualifications?
It’s not just whether the internship is right for you, but if you’re right for the internship. There’s no point spending hours on an application if you’re a final year student and they’re only looking to hire those in their penultimate year. If you are suitably qualified, make sure that this is obvious in your application so that the recruiters don’t have to question what you’re trying to tell them.
9. How are the online ratings?
One of the best ways to find out if an internship is right for you is by seeing exactly what previous students have experienced when doing the same one. Sites like Rate My Placement have reviews from previous interns, so you’ll get a great idea of what you’ll learn during the internship. Have a look at their social media accounts and hashtags too, as if someone has had a particularly good or bad experience there then they will often post about it online.
Finally, we’ve also put together some guidance on finding an alternative internship if you’re looking for something a bit different!