Written by Recruitment and Selection Advisor, Susanne Stoddart.
It won’t come as a surprise to hear that graduate employers will really value seeing some professional work experience on your CV. According to research from the Institute of Student Employers, recruiters believe graduates with professional work experience have the required transferable skills to do the job better than those without it. But we know it’s not always easy setting out to secure these opportunities. The many myths and ideas that circulate about internships – for example, that interns only carry out menial tasks but, at the same time, all internships are ultra-competitive – hardly build confidence or inspire action.
Although the summer break is just around the corner, it’s not too late to secure some professional work experience for the vacation. The UCL Jobs Market 2019 takes place on Wednesday 5th June, 2-4pm, where you can meet with employers offering summer internships in a wide range of sectors. Also, take a look at our advice on Sourcing and making the most of internships. But first, carry on reading for a couple of tips on building confidence and beating the application blues (with assistance from some self-help gurus… and Wonder Woman!).
Take Control with Stephen Covey
Stephen Covey’s book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, has sold over 25 million copies, and Covey’s first habit revolves around Circles of Concern and Circles of Influence. A Circle of Concern encompasses the wide range of worries a person has about life, or about a particular aspect of their life. Covey says that we should be focussing our time and energy not on our Circle of Concern but instead on our Circle of Influence, which encompasses issues that we actually have some control over.
You may be wondering what all these circles have got to do with your summer internship. Well, many of the discouraging ideas that circulate about internships are beyond your control or influence and therefore belong in the Circle of Concern. You can’t do anything about the fact that securing an internship is a competitive process, or that, maybe, you’ve never done an application for professional work experience before. There’s no point in dwelling on these concerns or letting them put you off giving it your best shot if you have a little time. It’s far better to be proactive and empowered by focussing on what you can control – your Circle of Influence – such as putting together an effective application that showcases your motivation, skills and experience in the best light. Remember, if you’d like some help with this, you can book in for a one-to-one Application Advice appointment with UCL Careers.
Smash Impostor Syndrome with Amy Cuddy
With an estimated 70% of the population experiencing it at some point in their lives, impostor syndrome is where an individual doubts the validity of their accomplishments and fears being exposed as inadequate, despite evidence that they are actually a competent, skilled and successful person. The common concern that you need professional experience to secure more professional experience can spark the fear and self-doubt characteristic of impostor syndrome and discourage internship applicants. In reality, employers don’t expect interns to have lots of professional work experience; they’re interested in motivation, transferable skills and potential. Academic achievements, extra-curricular activities – such as mentoring, playing sports or being on the committee of a student society – in addition to volunteering and part-time work are all valued successes that can showcase skills and potential.
For Amy Cuddy, banishing the impostor syndrome is all about the “power pose” – she advises that we take a couple of minutes in private to stand tall with chest out and hands on hips, just like Wonder Woman, in order to increase confidence for the day ahead. In one of the most watched TED talks of all time, Cuddy proves that body language affects not just how others see us – it also influences our own minds, reduces stress, increases confidence and impacts how we see ourselves.
Whether channelling Wonder Woman proves to be your thing or not, take control, acknowledge your achievements, showcase your skills and secure your summer internship anyway! The application effort will be worth it when you get your invitation to interview and remember, when it comes, you can book in with UCL Careers for a Practice Interview as another great way to boost your confidence and prepare.