Science

Finding an Internship

There are two ways to find opportunities:
 
  1. Advertisements, Organisation websites (Visible job market)
  2. Direct approach, Word of mouth (Hidden job market)
 
  1. Advertisements, Organisation websites (Visible job market)
There a lots of websites where both large and small organisations advertise internship opportunities. Start by looking at these:
 
Narrow down opportunities on a realistic geographical location first then start filtering by choosing your areas of interest either by the checklists or keywords. You might like to refine the search by paid or unpaid internships if that is a consideration applicable to your situation. 
Once you have a narrow list of companies that meet your criteria you should research these companies – find out the history, reputation and size of the company. Look at current employees of the company by searching on LinkedIn - what are their backgrounds, which other companies have they worked at (this might give you some other companies to research), which universities did they attend (this might help you with networking). All of this company research will help you decide if you’d like to apply for an internship there. This research will also shine through in your application and interview as it shows you’ve done your homework and are dedicated and prepared.
Once you have decided which internships to apply for you’ll need to make sure you have the following documents prepared and up to date:
  • Create an up-to-date resume and cover letter
  • Ensure you download your most recent transcript
  • Create a personal business card (optional)
  • Create a LinkedIn account and ensure it’s up to date
The Careers and Employment team at UNSW can help you with these documents and regularly run workshops on developing these. Look at the upcoming workshops by logging in with your student ID here: http://www.careers.unsw.edu.au/
 
When you make your application you MUST follow the instructions set out in the advertisement. Internships are generally too far down the rung for you to circumnavigate the application process set out in the job advertisement.
 
***SCIF2199 applicants:
Your first place to look for an internship placement will be the ‘Current Opportunities’ tab. If you are applying for an internship on the visible job market to gain credit towards SCIF2199, make sure the internship is for a minimum of 105 hours total (3 weeks full time) and ensure your host fills out the Work Placement Agreement form once you have been offered an internship (this MUST be signed and approved by the host and course convenor to allow you to enrol in the course). You should refer to the course in your cover letter and give them a copy of Information for Internship Hosts when applying.
Remember that you need to have completed 48 units of credit, have no more than 1 fail and have a WAM >65 to be able to apply to enrol in SCIF2199. The course convenor has the final say as to whether your internship can count for credit.
 
 
  1. Direct approach (Hidden job market)
Establishing networks:
Once you have a narrowed down list of companies it’s a worthwhile exercise to research any networks that could give you a leg up. Look for personal or professional connections to the company using social network sites such as Facebook or LinkedIn. 
As a general rule, it is acceptable to ask first degree friends for information about their experience working at a company. For any second degree friends, you should ask for an introduction by your mutual friend or acquaintance, rather than contacting them directly. You could ask your mutual friend to email your targeted new contact, explaining your intentions (to discuss the company as you’d like to apply for an internship there) and give them your contact details. You then wait for them to contact you. Try to meet this new contact in person if possible, a quick coffee for 10 mins should suffice. Meeting face to face is not only good practice, it will also create a stronger bond with your new contact and they might know of other opportunities you could explore.
Once you meet up or establish email contact with this new contact, you can ask them about their experience working in the company you are interested in and who is the best person to approach to ask for internship opportunities. This inside information will be useful in understanding the company culture and will give you a leg up in understanding who you can direct your approach to, the way they like to be approached and it can give you a name you can drop in your introduction.  
 
Making the approach:
You’re now ready to approach a company – firstly, use your knowledge from networking or research you have conducted to find the details of the person you should approach. If you are still not sure of the person to contact, it is a good idea to make an initial call to the reception find out or confirm whom you should direct your enquiry to.
Secondly, you’ll need to decide how to approach them. You can contact them by phone, email or in person. This will depend on the size and culture of the company and industry. It also depends on what you are personally comfortable with. As a general rule, approaching busy working organisations is better done initially on the email or by phone where you’ll have a improved chance of reaching the person you need rather than being blocked by multiple physical (your contact might work in a secure area) or personal (receptionists etc.) barriers.
 
Phone contact:
Though you can’t prepare the whole conversation, here are some ways in which you can be prepared:
  • If phoning, give the contact the option of making a more convenient time to talk (‘Please let me know if this is convenient time to speak’)
  • Prepare and practise your introduction (clear, brief and engaging)
  • Think about a connection to the employer that you can use in your introduction e.g. your networking contact, you’ve read about them, heard them speak at a careers function, read an article by/about the organisation, or someone at UNSW has suggested you contact them.
  • In particular, be prepared to talk about why you have contacted the organisation and what you have to offer
  • Think through how you will handle any resistance (‘we have nothing available’; ‘you need to speak to our HR Department'; ‘I don’t have time to talk’)
Example of a phone introduction:
Hello. My name is….. I have been given your details by/I read about you in/my lecturer suggested……
I am a student at UNSW and I’m looking for opportunities to intern in ……
I realise you may not be looking for interns at present but I’m really keen to find out more about your business……
Do you have time to talk at the moment? Or perhaps I could make a time to drop by and talk then?
 
Email contact:
Emails need to be focused and also attention-grabbing. Do not include every possible point in your favour - the aim of the email is to interest the reader to be open to further conversation.
 
Example of an email introduction: 
Reason for writing
State clearly and briefly your reason for writing. Don’t beat around the bush or start talking about yourself before you say why you’re writing. Include a point of connection to the organisation (I have been given your details by/I read about you in/my lecturer suggested).
 
Introduce yourself
Introduce yourself with an overview of your qualifications and experience – start with the most relevant aspects e.g. if your education is most relevant then open with that.
 
Internship objectives
Explain why you are hoping to complete an internship:
  • Is this a for a university course (SCIF2199)?
  • Is this for professional development?
Outline the field you are interested in working in and clearly explain the relevant skills that you have related to this field.
 
Next moves
Indicate what you would like to happen next. Do not rely on employer responding to email; it is usual to make a follow-up call. Alert them to your intention to do this in your email and an inquiry is less likely to be neglected.
 
***SCIF2199 applicants
If you are applying for an internship on the hidden job market to gain credit towards SCIF2199, make sure the internship you propose is for a minimum of 105 hours total (3 weeks full time) and ensure your host fills out the Work Placement Agreement form once you have been offered an internship (this MUST be signed and approved by the host and course convenor to allow you to enrol in the course). You should refer to the course in your introduction and give them a copy of Information for Internship Hosts for further information.
Remember that you need to have completed 48 units of credit, have no more than 1 fail and have a WAM >65 to be able to apply to enrol in SCIF2199. The course convenor has the final say as to whether your internship can count for credit.
 
A final important note
It is important to have your CV, transcript and LinkedIn account all up to date BEFORE you make a direct approach, as your contact may look up your LinkedIn page immediately after hearing from you or expect you to produce a CV and transcript at a first meeting (even if not expected, providing these at a first meeting shows you are prepared, organised and keen).
 
Whether you decide to use the visible or hidden job market, we’re here to help you! You can utilise all of the free services available to you through the Careers & Employment Office (http://www.careers.unsw.edu.au/) or contact the Science Industry team (details below) and we can help to point you in the right direction. Good Luck!
 
Science Industry Team
Phone: (02) 9385 7917
Office Hours: Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm