During A-Levels, your teachers told you that the key to future success was as simple as obtaining a degree from a good university, and you believed them. But now you’re here, and up against every other talented course mate for limited summer internship places and grad jobs, being a Warwick student who also once did DofE just isn’t enough. You need something more; an edge that makes you stand out from the crowds of people.
So how do you do it? Whilst the summer internship route is not everyone’s cup of tea and is by no means essential to success, it is a very popular way to gain experience leading towards your future career path. Having secured a summer internship at Grazia magazine this year, I’m sharing my advice on how to make yourself, and your work, stand out in an already competitive market.
- Show them that you’re more than just your degree
Getting solid Firsts in every assignment is obviously great, but it’s important to show that you exist outside of the academic sphere and are going above and beyond your degree to succeed. This is relatively simple to do, especially for arts students. Contributing to external publications and journals online will show initiative and passion for your subject, but it can’t just be a one-time thing. To really impress, you have to show commitment and dedication to the thing you want. Write regularly for an online magazine, run for the exec of a society – anything to make you more than just a name and some grades on a sheet of paper.
- Once you’ve done this, shout about it
This can often be the scariest part, but gaining recognition for your achievements is the key to being rewarded for them by employers. The best way to do this is to utilise social media. Whilst Instagram might only seem like a space to share your selfies, if used correctly it can become a key platform on which to extend the audience of your work. Use it to find magazine start-ups and publications that are looking for contributing writers, as well as building an online persona for yourself. By using Instagram to connect with a writer whose career I aspire to, she became my mentor, and as such has opened up a world of opportunity for me through knowing her. So, take advantage of social media, but don’t let it take advantage of you.
- Think about your “brand”
This might sound like strange advice but organising your extra-curricular activities around a subject or area you are truly passionate about may be more attractive to employers than generalised experiences. My personal passion is intersectional feminism, and thus all of my writing experience, as well as charity work and involvement with societies, are focused around that. Whilst there is nothing wrong with varied interests, homing in on a particular interest can create a strong sense of identity that reinforces your weight with prospective employers, especially if their brand coincides with yours. However, be mindful that this is reflective of your integrity as a person, so don’t try for a summer internship at the Daily Mail if your passion is women’s rights.
- Be prepared for knockbacks
Very rarely do people get their “dream” placement or the first one they apply for, so don’t be disheartened if your inbox feels like a sea of rejection letters. The most important thing here is perseverance. Keep working on your skills, learning more and developing as a person. The application is often a waiting game but when it works out, it’s certainly worth it.