How to Get an Internship with No Experience
Did you know that 92% of employers also offer an internship program? 70% of these internships are actually designed in the hopes of later on converting interns into full-time workers. We’ve published blog posts in the past about all the ways in which internships can accelerate your career, open up new job opportunities, and help your overall professional development.
But, you might be wondering, what if I don’t have any experience? Can I still apply to internships, and how? Which ones? We hear you, and we’re here to help you! Read on to find the answers to these questions, and more—because chances are, you probably have more experience than you think you do! Here are some tips for landing an internship with “no experience.”
o Do You Really Have “No” Experience?
First and foremost, take a step back and reexamine your resume. You may have more experience than you think! The truth is, many things might have flown over your head as legitimate qualifications—including any kind of work like babysitting, manning a cash register, waiting tables, etc. That’s right, the small jobs you’ve had here and there, and (if you’re a current or recent student) even the school and community clubs you’ve led, can qualify as work experience! Some of the important traits employers look for is cooperation and the ability to take responsibility for your tasks and actions. So, if you’ve been involved in any sort of job and/or leadership before, listing that experience will allow employers to see that you’re capable of taking orders and getting your work done.
o Look in the Right Places
If it’s your first time trying to look for an internship, it may feel difficult to even know where to start. Good internships may feel hard to find, but chances are you just need to switch to looking in the right places, because once you know where to look, you’ll see them everywhere!
When you have no experience looking for an internship, one of the most important steps to getting started is to learn where to find them. If you’re a student, your school may have a career center or a job board that you can consult. Job boards also exist outside of school environments; you can find them online, and through online job posting sites like LinkedIn and Indeed.com. Career fairs are a great way to get in contact with a variety of different companies and employers, if you’re not sure what you specifically want to do yet. You can also always ask around and consult friends, and research specific companies you’re interested in to keep up with when they have internship openings.
o Putting the Focus Where It Matters
Oftentimes, the resume isn’t the only thing you’re sending in. The internship (and job!) application process consists of the resume, the cover letter, and the interview—not to mention the importance of soft skills. If your resume is more bare than you’d like it to be, try to delegate your focus to strengthening other parts of your application.
The Cover Letter is a short letter of self-introduction you attach when you send your resume to an employer or hiring manager. Many people will use this space to briefly summarize their most stand-out accomplishments, but the employer is going to see the resume anyway. This cover letter is the time to make a first impression, and you’d be making better use of the space by taking the time to explain why you’ve chosen to apply to this internship. Point out specific responsibilities and traits that the employer is looking for in this role, as that will demonstrate interest in the position and company, and emphasize why you’d be a great fit and a good asset to the team overall. An eloquently written cover letter is sure to impress. Even if you don’t have super shiny, hard-and-fast achievements to reference, you can most definitely reference your soft skills.
The Soft Skills include leadership, public speaking, project and team management, team building, outreach, and so forth. Many internships, regardless of the field, will require the intern to have strong skills in communication and outreach. These are skills that will serve you well regardless, as interns are in a great position to observe and learn from the rest of the company. Many people list their soft skills on their resume, but it’s even better to put these skills into context in your cover letter, explaining how they fit in the context of both the specific internship role and the overall company culture. If the employer or hiring manager has directly listed traits they wish to see in an intern, you could directly reference that by writing something like, “From the internship listing, I understand (skill 1) and (skill 2) are important skills to have as an intern for (company), which is why I believe I’m a great asset to the team.”
The Interview often happens after the employer has vetted applications and decided you are a strong candidate and potentially good for the company. They will reach out to you for an interview to get a sense of who you are as a person, and not just a piece of paper. This is yet another great opportunity to make a strong impression—likely your last impression. This is where your lack of experience might actually be able to work in your favor. Whereas talking about concrete achievements can get old quickly, especially since the employer has already read your application, talking about how you are still “green” makes for a great personal story. Let the interviewer know about your interest, curiosity, and passion to apply yourself in a professional environment to learn and grow. If you come across as a generally friendly, well-mannered, and responsible person who seems like they would fit into the company culture well, that is also a plus!
o Apply Wide
Especially when you’re just starting out, it’s important not to limit yourself. It’s best to apply to a wide range of internships, not only to cast a wide net and maximize your chances of getting an internship, but also to explore a variety of interests and see which kind of workflow and environment you enjoy the most. Check out job networking sites (check out our post on how to make the most of LinkedIn!). On those sites, a nice variety of internships of all kinds—in-person, part-time, remote, paid, unpaid, etc.—are regularly posted, including postings from relatively young businesses. These businesses that are just starting out often urgently need more team members and manpower, and they are going to appreciate all applicants—so definitely try your hand at those!
o Remember the Purpose
The process of applying to an internship is probably not as scary as you think. Interviewers, employers, and hiring managers alike aren’t going to grill you for your work experience, or lack thereof. At the end of the day, internships are designed to give professional working experience to those who do not have much of it yet. Be patient, be okay with rejections and failure, and work your way up. You’ll be rocking your dream job in no time!
When it comes to internships and jobs, everyone needs to start somewhere! You’re probably tired of hearing the word “internship” everywhere you go in an educational and professional setting: how much it can benefit you, how far behind you are if you haven’t had one, so on and so forth. Luckily, you’re not alone—and your days of stressing are over! With these simple steps in mind, you can work your way up to getting an internship with minimal to no experience. And, if you haven’t yet, make sure to check out our past blog posts about internships and job searching—they offer great tidbits of advice to keep in your pocket, and they will definitely come in handy!