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Kick Start your Career: Do an Internship!

By Joe O'Brien, on 2 March 2020

Written by Katharine Evans, Internships & Vacancies Officer at UCL Careers.

Internships are a great way for you as a graduate or a finalist to get a taste of different roles, organisations, and working environments to help you work out what you do and don’t from your career!

Undertaking an internship
You have a lot to gain from doing an internship. From being able to develop common workplace skills such as team work and commercial awareness, to demonstrating work experience on your CV and making new connections with employers. You will be able to explore a field of work and reflect on your strengths and weaknesses to build your confidence, and understand how theory and research relate to practice in a work context.

If you’re a graduate or finalist, you can find a summer internship in our UCL Careers Summer Internship Scheme for Finalists & Graduates where you will be paid London Living Wage. Opportunities are live now until 27th March.

If you’re still studying you can look at myUCL Careers for opportunities you might wish to apply for, directly to employers, or through sending in speculative applications. We’d advise reading this for more information and watching our Careers Consultant, Raj’s, CareersLab video on finding an internship.

See the following tips for other ways to boost your careers prospects once you have finished your studies and during an internship:

Creating a portfolio
For some roles (particularly those in media, fashion and design) it’s important to have a portfolio of work to show employers at interviews. This could include photos, drawings, examples of writing or anything they demonstrates your creativity. During your degree you may have started this portfolio, however an internship following on from graduation could help improve this. Not only will an internship as a graduate help increase the pieces of work in your portfolio, it’s also a great way to show that you understand how to deliver to budget and in line with a client brief. Remember to ensure that you also have a digital portfolio in the form of a website, then you can include the link on your CV or in future applications.

Have you connected?
If you have made some connections during your studies then re-visit them. Leverage your network to identify people who are in your desired field or industry, and set up an informational interview to learn more about your potential career path. Begin speaking with potential mentors, UCL Alumni and build (or rebuild) relationships with existing mentors. This will put you in a strong position now you’re graduating and remind people that you are still interested!

Building your online brand
Linked to networking, your personal brand is how the outside world, including prospective employers see you. Sites like LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook can powerful tools to let employers know who you are and what you can do – https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/ucl-careers/2016/04/26/can-social-media-get-you-a-job/. LinkedIn is now not only a social media site, it’s also one of the most popular job sites. The increase in people applying directly with their LinkedIn profiles means that you need to ensure that yours stands out and shows you as the excellent graduate you are!

Learning about you
The first step in making an informed decision about anything relating to your career is understanding yourself. If you don’t really know what you want or what you are good at then this can be really hard. Use the time after finishing your course to get to know yourself a bit better. Travelling, making new friends or learning new skills (online courses) can be a really good way to bring out your strengths and help you find your passion. A seven or eight week internship post-graduation is a great way to fit everything in whilst still getting to trial a potential career. Remember you can come into UCL Careers for a short guidance appointment with one of our Careers Consultants.

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