Can I apply for an internship?
SZ reader Fritz A. asks:
I am 27 years old, have just finished my bachelor's degree in political science and now I really need to earn money. When looking for a job, however, I noticed that internships are required for most positions. So I want to apply for it first. Large companies often offer several internships that would be suitable for me. Should I apply for three or four internships in the same company? Or does that make it seem like I'm not really excited about something?
Vincent Zeylmans replies:
Dear Mr A., if a company advertises several permanent positions, it is counterproductive if you do not commit to one position. Employers like to see applicants know where their strengths lie, what inspires them and what position they are aiming for. It is different with an internship.
This manageable period of time is often the first point of contact with corporate reality and is therefore viewed - also by the employer - as an orientation phase. Nobody expects you to be able to commit yourself already. On the contrary, many interns first want to see what areas of responsibility exist in the company. The purpose of the internship is to discover for yourself where you could gain a foothold after graduation. You can therefore apply for several advertised internships.
If you - conversely - prefer certain areas of expertise, you can also send an unsolicited application for an internship to an employer. In times when it is increasingly difficult for companies to find qualified personnel, many are open to this form of getting to know each other. Even if an internship is financially uninteresting for an employer, it is valued as a recruiting measure. Once the intern has got to know and appreciate the team and the culture in the company, they may also consider it as a future employer.
It is not uncommon for a company to make an intern - regardless of whether they want to continue their studies or not - an offer to join the company. From the employer's point of view, it is more difficult to develop an applicant's personality than their professional competence. Especially in a non-binding period of cooperation, both can try out whether they could get together beyond the internship. Employers see the possibility of observing potential future employees in everyday practice as an ideal prerequisite for a well-founded personnel decision. If an intern is convincing with personal skills and has a professional qualification, the chances are very good that a collaboration could result from this.
They think you urgently need to make money. I don't know if you want to do a master's later. If not, you could strategically see the internship as a stepping stone into the company. You can point out in the cover letter that - if the matching is right - you are quite open to staying with this employer afterwards.
If you want to finish your studies with a bachelor’s degree, it does not seem to me to be fundamentally necessary for you to do internships at all before you switch to permanent employment. Just try to apply for the advertised positions even without an internship!
Vincent Zeylmans was a division manager and managing director in international corporations for a long time and knows their recruitment policy from practice. Today he lives in Emmerich as an author, career coach and outplacement consultant.
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