Internships: When You Need Experience To Get Experience

By Mia Casey

Getting an internship can be a competitive process. Not only do you have to compete with other students, but it may often be the first time you’re undertaking actual industry-relevant work. So how can you increase your chances of landing the perfect internship, if you don’t necessarily have the hands-on experience to back it up?

(Struggling to get an internship while studying? Read to the end to find out how to do an internship and get course credit for it!)

Bulk up your resume

If you know for a fact that you’ll likely need to complete an internship before taking on the workforce, it’s time to build your experience. I know – the whole ‘you need experience, to get experience’ thing. It might be a pain, but it’s not as hard as you think.

When you go to apply for an internship, think about any potentially career-relevant experience you have. Think of any volunteering, extra-curricular’s, university, group assignments, part-time jobs, hobbies or holiday work you’ve completed. They can all help support your application, and give you examples to back up your responses to the selection criteria or position description. Skills such as time management, organisation, teamwork, interpersonal communication or even event organising  can come from these experiences.

If you’re worried that none of your current experience really hold-up or support your application, be sure to utilise your cover letter to show your enthusiasm and passion for the role. Resumes often have to be pretty formal, but you can use your cover letter to show how enthusiastic you are for the role.

If you’re not applying for an internship over the next week or so, try doing some volunteering or take on some casual work (even something like babysitting or walking dogs) to help your next application.

Don’t skimp on the research

When you’re applying for an internship, it’s easy to get so caught up in talking about your skills that you forget to think of the company. Do your research on the organisation you’re applying for and use that to help structure your answers. Particularly if your resume is a little lacking in the experience department, showing that you’ve put thought into how the internship fits into the company as a whole is a definite plus. You don’t need to go overboard, but just mentioning something you admire about the company in the cover letter, or talking about how the experience would help you on your career path in the objective statement section of your resume is a great start.

Focus on your skills

While you may be worried about your lack of experience, you don’t want potential employers to do the same. Don’t make excuses or highlight any areas where you might be lacking in your application. Instead, make sure to focus on areas where you thrive and highlight your ability to learn. Internships are all about building your skills, so highlighting your excitement and willingness to learn is a good idea.

Pick up new skills

If you want to work in an industry that utilises a lot of new technology, or requires a certain amount of skill in other related areas that your degree doesn’t cover, it’s time to do some self-motivated study. While it might be a bit of a pain on top of uni, doing a short online course or two to back up the skills you’re already developing is a great idea. If you’ve noticed that a lot of the jobs in your industry require you to know how to use certain software, do a course on it! Having extra study or certifications on your resume can show potential employers that you’re willing to go above and beyond to succeed. It also highlights the whole ‘willingness to learn’ thing, we spoke about earlier. Check out websites like, or even Google some free online courses and you’re bound to find something. (Here’s a great list of online study providers, if you need a hand).


So really, there’s no excuse to not apply for the next internship that catches your attention – give it a shot!

Ever regretted doing a degree that doesn’t have an internship or placement requirement? Or stumbled across the perfect internship opportunity, but then read the ‘an internship must be a requisite of your course’ disclaimer, and couldn’t apply for it? Then the Entering Professional Life subject is for you! Running for the first time this summer, this subject gives you the chance to freely pursue an internship as part of your degree. Provided that an internship or placement is not already a mandatory part of your course, and you have electives to spare, Entering Professional Life lets you get the hands-on experience you need to back up your studies, and develop your skills. Places are limited, so apply today!

Featured image courtesy of Pexels.


Author: Mia Casey

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