Young, Inexperienced But Keen: How to Create Work Placement or Internship Opportunities

Friday, April 11th, 2014 by: Jeanette Hannan

One of the main problems facing young candidates is a lack of proven work experience. If you have just graduated or left school, you won’t have had many paid jobs, which puts you at a disadvantage compared to other applicants. A professional work placement or internship is a great way to plug this gap because it gives you real experience in the workplace. If you’re unsure how to go about finding good work placement or internship opportunities, try one or more of the following strategies.

Develop your network

Even at a young age, you will have a network of people who can help you find a work placement or internship, but you can quickly exhaust friends, family members and neighbours. Find new opportunities by rapidly developing your professional network. A personal recommendation is an extremely powerful way to open doors, so it’s vital that you make contact with the right people. Talk to your teachers or university professors/lecturers to gain a referral to their network of connections. Use LinkedIn to find well-connected managers at companies that you would like to work for, and work backwards through their connections to find people who could offer you an introduction. You can develop your network in a surprisingly short time if you take a proactive, professional approach.

Combine forces with other people

Work placements and internships don’t have to take place on an individual basis. Many companies will like the idea of a ‘team’ placement, especially if you can clearly state what you can do, and the value you will all add. Combine forces with your friends, and create a case for the employer to offer you a group placement. Try to keep the numbers down to a team of no more than five people, and pull together a clear vision of what you will all bring to the business. Highlight each of your skills and strengths, but present a consolidated picture of the way you will add value as a group.

Suggest ways that you can add unexpected value

Most businesses have a fixed quota of placements or internships each year, but that doesn’t mean you cannot create a compelling case to take on another person. Research the company’s main business aims, and draw up a proposal for ways that you can add value. For example, your experience as a computer graduate could present a great opportunity for you to improve a company’s website design, even if the business doesn’t realise there is a problem. Draw a simple plan of the work you think you could complete, and how this could increase sales or customer opportunities. Few companies will ignore a compelling business case.

A good work placement or internship opportunity helps you quickly develop new skills, and gives you the chance to add much-needed workplace experience to your resume. Work placements and internships are often as competitive as real jobs, but if you’re clever and determined in your approach, you can easily find a short-term opportunity.

As a young person commencing your career now is the time to consider how you can put yourself forward and stand out from the crowd. From the commencement of your career you should seriously consider the value in seeking professional assistance with your job search needs.

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