Internships – everyone’s doing one, everyone’s offering one. Internships are like currency in the professional world – those who have it have an advantage over those who don’t.
In college, we’re expected to do internships to fulfil our credits, which makes us look at them as obligations instead of opportunities. In this mechanised process, we forget how choosing a good, quality internship can help us in our careers. Internships are the need of the hour for many reasons, and we’ll tell you why.
To get more insights into the importance of internships, I spoke to Shilpa Laharwal, founder of Career Faktor. With 18 years of experience in human resource management, Shilpa provides guidance to individuals looking for jobs as well as to start-ups looking to set up HR practices.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to find internships in India for your career.
What Is The Importance Of An Internship?
In simple words, an internship is a short-term work experience in a company that gives you an idea of the workings of the industry.
The purpose of an internship is that it is a learning experience for the student. An intern learns about the field by working on projects relevant to their coursework, all the while developing connections and skills.
Internships play a significant role in a fresher’s job search.
“The theory we’re taught in colleges is completely different from practical application in the corporate world,” says Shilpa. “An internship gives a student an additional edge because they have knowledge of the workings of the corporate world.”
An internship is the closest thing you will have to industry experience – make it count! By choosing the right internship, you are making your resume look better, thus increasing your chances of bagging that job you really want!
Here’s why internships are important for your career:
In a nutshell, it’s important to make the right decision when it comes to choosing an internship as it has an array of benefits for your professional and personal growth.
Do Interns Get Paid In India?
This is a commonly asked question among most students and freshers. But the answer isn’t straightforward – paid internships in India differs from company to company.
As Shilpa also states, while some companies believe that the exposure and contacts provided to interns are valuable in itself, others believe that interns should be given a small stipend because they are providing labour. It also depends on the company’s size, reputation, and field of work.
Generally speaking, a stipend for interns in India can range anywhere between Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 30,000.
That said, if you’re just starting out and you’re comfortable financially, it’s okay not to make money an important factor when looking for an internship. The idea behind an internship is to gain knowledge and experience, and that should be the main criteria during your search.
In some cases, Shilpa says, students who perform phenomenally are called back for a second internship and paid for it. This is another factor to consider.
Now that you know this, let’s jump into how you can find a quality internships.
Steps On How To Find Internships In India
Define Your Purpose
Before you apply for an internship, think about what it is that you want out of it.
Do you want to gain experience in something specific within your field? Do you want to evaluate if you want to continue in your chosen field? Do you want to build connections? Define your purpose before you deep dive into your internship search.
In her experience with freshers, Shilpa has noticed that many who apply for a job in one field have internship experience in many fields that aren’t always connected. While that indicates that the candidate may be exploring varied opportunities, it’s important that there is a connection between the internship and the candidate’s coursework.
Be sure to know what you want out of the internship before starting your search. Once you’ve figured that out, the rest is relatively easy.
Start Your Search
Now comes the meatiest part of your search – looking for the ideal place for your internship. There are many ways you can go about it:
- Online platforms. Many platforms such as job sites and online career communities list internship opportunities where students can directly apply – they may need to upload relevant documents as per the requirement.
- College campus resources. Your professors and seniors can help you find good internship opportunities. Reach out to them for advice and tell them what you’re looking for – they will most likely help you with contacts and references, and you can do the needful.
- Check out the companies you love. Whether it’s your favourite brand or a company you’ve had your eyes set on for a while, consider sending out feelers to seek an internship opportunity. In the age of social media, even brands aren’t out of reach – head to their social media handles or website and get in touch with them.
- Tap into your personal network. Ask your parents, friends, and relatives of any opportunities they may have come across. Your personal network may be more useful than you think!
Narrow Your Search According To Your Interests
The best way to zero in on an internship is to find a company whose interests align with yours.
If you’re a student of media studies and you want to explore the different areas in advertising, you could look for digital marketing, social media management, copywriting, or influencer marketing and choose what interests you.
If you’re sure you want to pick copywriting, you can further narrow down your search by type of company, type of work, location, stipend, etc. For some, interning at a reputed company is a priority because it can add weight to your resume. However, rest assured that it isn’t always necessary that a reputed company will give you a pleasant or useful internship experience.
This is where you can broaden your search a bit. Shilpa states that there are many kinds of internships to choose from – NGO internships, government agency internships, corporate internships, start-up internships – the nature of work will vary. You can decide what works best for you.
Write Your Resume
This is the most important part of your search and of your first steps into the professional world. Your resume should reflect how your skills match the company’s requirement. Remember to put all the relevant details where it’s easy for the recruiter to read.
If you have previous internship experience, mention it in detail; if not, volunteer experience is key.
Wondering how to craft your resume in a way that gets you hired? We’ve got you covered! Read our expert-validated guide here.
Write A Relevant Cover Letter
A personalised cover letter is always a great value-add when applying for an internship, especially if you don’t have a lot of internship experience to put in your resume.
Your cover letter is a glimpse into your personality – a little bit of humble bragging goes a long way!
Start with how you discovered the opportunity and what prompted you to apply. Then, through the letter, talk about your academic and extracurricular achievements and how that would help you during the internship. End your cover letter in an optimistic tone, humbly requesting them to consider your application.
Prepare For Potential Interviews
After you’ve sent in your application, you probably won’t hear from the company immediately. Take this time to prepare for the interview. It won’t be a difficult interview; it may just be an informal phone conversation. But it’s still an important step, so it’s best to be prepared. Read up about the company’s founders, core values, and work culture.
Most importantly, prepare to answer the most commonly-asked question: What do you intend to get out of this internship? This is where your purpose should shine.
Here are the top 5 qualities recruiters look for when offering internships, according to Shilpa:
- A strong idea of what the candidate wants out of the internship
- A connection between the nature of the internship and their coursework
- A positive, will-do attitude
- Good communication skills
- How much they know about the company
This was a step-by-step guide to getting the internship of your dreams. Shilpa suggests a few important things every candidate must remember:
- Be clear on why you want the internship.
- Remember that you’ll be in an office environment, be prepared for changed work timings and long work hours.
- Money is not an important factor; learning on the job is.
- Do thorough research about the company so you know you’ll be in good hands.
- Make sure that the internship of your choice aligns with your larger goal.
Best Internship Websites In India
A simple Google search can get you started on your internship hunt, but several websites and online communities post these opportunities on a daily basis.
Here are some popular, highly-rated platforms that provide internship opportunities:
Here are some online communities to help you network or find mentors while you look for internships:
- Kool Kanya
- Women About Community
- Catalyst For Women Entrepreneurship
What To Do When You Can’t Find An Internship
Vigorous searching, in some cases, may not always work. You may not get the internship you really wanted, and that may leave you feeling disappointed. Fret not, because there’s always a solution! You could always go for an internship that isn’t on the top of your list and make the most of it. Else, you could:
- Volunteer. Several NGOs are on the lookout for volunteers – that would only add to your resume! Besides, you would also learn a great deal in soft and hard skills in the process.
- Upskill. Take up online courses that will help you to build on your existing skills so you’ll have more to offer when you get an internship. It’ll also look great on your resume!
- Network. Build your LinkedIn profile and post regularly. Connect with likeminded people – an internship will fall into your lap!
- Find a mentor. If you consider yourself a self-starter, you can join an online community and find an experienced person in your field to mentor you. If you’re looking to make it as a creative writer, for example, you could look for a person who could mentor you with your writing so you can submit your work to publications and get noticed. An expanding portfolio and bylines – who wouldn’t be impressed by that?
Internships are essential for your job search. Getting an internship is like understanding what your professional life is going to be – make the most of it and find an internship that works for you! Keeping these tips in mind will help you get an internship you’ll love. What are you waiting for – get cracking, now!
You’re invited! Join the Kool Kanya women-only career Community where you can network, ask questions, share your opinions, collaborate on projects, and discover new opportunities. Join now.
Last updated: 16 April 2021