The mechanics of an internship
What to look for an internship
• Focus on the ‘fit’: The best place to start is to decide on what kind of
internship your child wants to do — how it fits in with what he is interested in. If he is interested in writing, for instance, he should try freelancing with a newspaper, or intern at an ad agency as a copywriter. There are also part-time positions available in event management companies and telemarketing firms. Alternately, if there is an entrepreneurial streak in your child, nothing like a stint in the family business or a start-up.
• Consider his goals. Get your child to ask himself “what experiences will I need and which internship will give me these?”
• Look for a cultural fit. Find out about the number of hours your child has to work, get to know how a typical day pans out, find out how the supervision is conducted, how interns are treated, etc.
Applying for an internship – do’s and don’ts
• Explore all options. Apply everywhere. It doesn’t hurt to try.
• Check the application deadline. You don’t want to miss it!
• Find out what specific qualifications are required. Most organisations indicate preferences and not necessarily requirements. So if your child thinks he has the necessary skills, go ahead and give it a shot.
• See what documents are required and make sure your child has them. Make sure that the documents (like testimonials) are grammatically correct. Don’t send in cover letters and résumés filled with errors.
• Once your child has sent in his application, ensure that he checks with the organisation or company to see if they have received it. Follow up.
• Encourage your child to talk to current interns in the company to understand if this is really what he is looking for.
Understand what is expected of an intern
High school students are not expected to have expertise in anything specific as they are still learning. However, they are expected to highlight their skills and strengths while pitching for internships. The eligibility criteria also include showcasing a certain level of maturity and their readiness to undertake
the role. And of course, most prospective employers will look for basic communication skills, the enthusiasm to learn and interact and good grades or references. Balasubramanian points out that “major
responsibilities are not given to interns. They are generally a part of a big project, working under constant supervision. They are allocated specific tasks with clear instructions and are expected to turn it around within the specified time. Depending on individual capabilities, interns may be encouraged to
take up more challenging tasks as well.”
Getting the most out of an internship
• When your child begins his internship, he should work with the supervisor to create a document that maps out a work plan. He should outline what he intends to learn and accomplish, and chart out
various activities and projects, mutual expectations, and goals. Both your child and the supervisor can use this document to manage the internship.
• Ask your child to consider his goals in these areas, and work towards these: Academics: what ideas and concepts in his field of study would he like to learn about, practise, or test? Skills: What practical skills does he want to develop?
• As your child nears the completion on his internship, ensure that he documents what he has learnt — in a project file, supported with documents, samples of his work and recommendation letters.