Kick-Start Your Career with an Internship
By Joe O'Brien, on 13 April 2021
Read time: 3 minutes
Written by Nasima Bashar, Internships & Vacancies Officer at UCL Careers.
Internships are a great way for students and graduates to explore different roles, organisations, and working environments to help identify what you do (and do not) want from your future career.
Undertaking an Internship
There is a lot to gain from doing an internship, from developing transferable skills such as teamwork and time management, to adding work experience to your CV and making connections with new employers. Internships allow you to explore a new field of work and reflect on your strengths and weaknesses, enabling you to build your confidence and understand the benefits that your academic experiences bring to a working role.
Current UCL students and recent graduates are eligible to apply for an internship through the UCL Careers Summer Internship Scheme. All internships offered through this scheme will take place between June – September and pay above National Minimum Wage. Applications will open on 12th April, closing on 30th April. You can view and apply for opportunities here.
Current students and those who have graduated within the past 2 years also have access to the myUCL Careers platform, an excellent resource for careers events, employment opportunities, and volunteer positions. If you are interested in finding an internship, we recommend you check out some of the available resources including this article on Sourcing and making the most of internships and the CareersLab video Finding Internships hosted by Raj, one of our Careers Consultants. Anyone interested in learning more about sending in speculative applications to employers can click here for more information.
See the following tips for other ways to boost your career prospects before and during internships:
Create a Portfolio
For some roles (particularly those in media, fashion, or design) it’s important to have a portfolio of work to show to employers in interviews. This could include photos, drawings, examples of writing, or anything else that demonstrates your creativity and ability. You may begin compiling your portfolio during your degree but undertaking an internship can help to improve it. Not only does an internship help to increase the amount of work in your portfolio – it’s also a great way to show that you understand how to deliver a project within a budget and in line with a client brief. It is important to have your portfolio available online; including a link to it in your CV can help employers readily access your work.
It is important to revisit any connections that you may have made during your studies when looking to begin your career. Leveraging your network can allow you to identify people who are in your desired field or industry, and to set up informal interviews to learn more about your potential career path. This will remind people that you are still interested in their work and put you in a stronger position once you have graduated. Another great way to build your network is to begin speaking with potential mentors and to connect with UCL alumni who work in your field of interest. Be sure to check out UCL Alumni’s UCL Bentham Connect platform when building your network.
Build Your Online Brand
Your personal brand is how the outside world sees you, including prospective employers. Social media platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook can be powerful tools to let employers know who you are and what you do. LinkedIn is especially important to anyone looking to build their personal brand and begin their career, as more and more job applications are taking place directly through LinkedIn. Make sure your profile stands out and shows you as the accomplished graduate or student that you are!
Learn About Yourself
The first step in making an informed decision about anything related to your career is understanding yourself. If you don’t know what you want from a career, or what your strengths are, this can be very difficult. Use your holidays or time after finishing your course to get to know yourself better. Travelling, making new friends, and learning new skills, can be beneficial ways to bring out your strengths and help you discover your passions. Undertaking an internship is an excellent way to learn more about yourself whilst also trialling a potential career. Remember that guidance and support is always available through UCL Careers and if you wish to, you are able to book a short guidance appointment with one of our Careers Consultants.