Welcome to the second topic of this module—Finding Organisations for Your Internship.
Now that you know about the type of organisations available in the industry. You can now find an organisation that operates in an industry or provides career opportunities that align with your interests and career goals.
For example, an accounting student can consider interning with an organisation in the finance sector or banking industry. He can also intern with the finance unit of an organisation in any industry. A student studying computer science or other courses related to information technology can intern in IT companies such as software development firms, telcos, fintechs, or EdTech. She can also consider interning in the information technology unit of any organisation in a diverse range of industries.
Once you have identified the industries or units relevant to your course of study or that align with your career aspirations—you need to find specific organisations for your internship options.
Let’s look at where you can find internship opportunities.
The first place is your network.
- Your Network
Research shows that 70% of job openings are not published publicly, and as much as 80% of job vacancies are filled through personal and professional connections. These percentages are likely higher for internship opportunities, especially in Africa. Start your search by looking into your network. Your network consists of your parents, siblings, extended family members such as aunties, uncles and cousins, neighbours, senior friends, and people at your worship centre. Your network also extends to your institution’s alumni, lecturers, and staff that you have a good relationship with. Reach out to let them know you are looking for an internship placement, providing more information on the industries or units you are looking at. The earlier you do, the better. People in your network may work directly in these industries or units—or know people who do from their years of professional experience. This works on what is called the “six degrees of separation”. It is the idea that you can connect to anyone by a chain of no more than six acquaintances. The internet and platforms like LinkedIn are making these degrees of separation even shorter. Connect with your institution’s alumni working in industries or organisations of interest. As you reach out to people within your network, have your CV ready to share with them. They may ask for it immediately or later. The first step is reaching out, but a more important step is following up with them. People have a lot of things to think about. So, at least once in a week or two, sending a short message reminding them of your search for internship placement will go a long way.
- Corporate Internship Programmes
Many organisations, especially large enterprises, announce calls for internships. Smaller-sized organisations may not be specific about roles and units with internship openings. They may also be specific about the course of study and the student’s technical skills. Larger organisations may be specific. They often have well-established departments within their organisation for internship opportunities.
To stay informed about these internship openings, visit the career webpage and social media channels of the companies you are interested in. Companies often update them with career opportunities. You can also follow these companies on social media channels like LinkedIn and Twitter. They are powerful tools for staying abreast of company updates, including internship opportunities. Some platforms provide updates on these opportunities. They include Jobberman, OpportunityDesk, and Opportunities for Africans. You can visit their websites, follow them on social media, and subscribe to their email newsletters.
Individuals may also share these opportunities. If you find out that the person who shared this internship opportunity on social media works is connected to the organisation. You can engage with their posts and reach out to them to inform them of your interest. They may share more information with you. Even if they don’t, proceed to apply for the opportunity with the link they shared.
- Internet Search, Job Sites, and Recruitment Platforms
You can search on Google or LinkedIn to find organisations where you would like to intern. If you already know of these companies, you can visit their website, LinkedIn and social media pages to learn more about what they do, career opportunities, and key contacts you can connect with. On the website, find on the menu the Career Page. You can google the names of the companies with careers added to your keywords. You may also find the email for job applications on their website and job descriptions.
When searching online, the more specific your keywords, the more relevant the results will be. For example, instead of searching for “internships,” you could search for “software internships in Lagos.” You can also search for “Internship” added to the Name of the Company. Google Jobs will bring out the most relevant results to your search. If you are interested in working for a particular industry or company, search for the name of the company + internship. This will let you know when they post new opportunities. You can also search for the name of a role or job plus “internship”. For example, “engineering internship”. To set up a Google Alert, simply go to the Google Alerts website and enter your keywords or phrases. You can then choose how often you want to receive alerts in your email.
Job and internship opportunities are posted directly by employers or aggregated across job sites. These platforms include LinkedIn, Jobberman, Indeed, MyJobMag, and Google Jobs. Human resource companies also conduct recruitment exercises for employers. You can find these companies online and follow them on their social media channels to stay abreast of the opportunities they publish. There are platforms dedicated to internship opportunities for students. However, most of these platforms are specific to countries and institutions. Examples are Handshake, WayUp and Intern Abroad HQ.
Online news platforms can also provide updates about companies just starting or making strides in an industry. If you are interested in information technology, visit websites and subscribe to the newsletters of publications such as TechCabal and TechPoint that write about the industry. If you are interested in finance, visit websites and subscribe to the newsletters of publishers such as BusinessDay and Nairametrics. Each industry has publications that focus on them. In addition to visiting their websites and subscribing to their newsletters, follow them on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and other platforms. Many of these publications also publish job openings.
There are many fake internships and job opportunities online published to lure applicants into scams and traps. Stay safe online and research to be sure the opportunities are genuine. If information on a company online beyond the internship opportunity is unavailable, be suspicious and ask people in your network to verify for you.
- Industry Events and Career Fairs
Industry includes conferences, seminars, and workshops that bring professionals and experts from different organisations together. Many of these events happen on campus. Attending these events provides an excellent platform to meet and connect with professionals. Engage in the event sessions, participate in group activities, and ask questions about career opportunities in the industry.
Career fairs bring together numerous companies and organisations presently recruiting or building a talent pipeline for future recruitment. Take a tour to meet with company representatives to learn more about what their company does and the career opportunities available to students and recent graduates.
One of the best ways to connect with people anywhere is by showing genuine interest in what they do. Ask questions about their job, what it is like, and how they got into the current organisation or industry they are working in. If time permits, you can ask how they got their first jobs or if they ever did an internship. Collect their cards if they have one and connect with them on LinkedIn, adding a message about where you met and how it was a pleasure meeting them.
After establishing a good rapport with these contacts, you can let them know you are looking for internship opportunities and have your CV ready. If they inform you that there are prospects for opportunities within their organisation or another in their network, subsequently follow up with them.
- Your Institution
Your institution can provide you information or placement for your internship. In addition to career fairs, the Career and Internship office may also provide information about opportunities from organisations open to receiving interns from your institution. Make enquiries about these opportunities. The office may also share this information with students via email or on a job board. Check them frequently and apply early as these opportunities are shared.
On campus, there are departments, offices, centres, and laboratories where faculty, researchers and staff may be open to interns to support projects and operations. On-campus internships offer the advantage of getting work experience while being physically close to campus.
- Overlooked Places
Many students set their sights on finding an internship placement in big and popular companies. However, there is always a lot of competition for a limited number of spaces. Other organisations have internship opportunities. These are places not given much attention when searching for internship opportunities but offer exciting and rewarding internship opportunities.
Let’s look at some of these places.
- Media Houses
Interning in a media house is not exclusive to mass communication and media studies students. A media house can be an excellent opportunity for students from various disciplines. For example, an economics student can work with the business reporting team. An electrical electronics engineering student may work in a media house to learn more about broadcasting technologies and how studios are wired. Interning in a media house provides opportunities to meet and connect with leading professionals in sectors of reporting for the media house.
NGOs include foundations, international donor agencies and think tanks that work across communities or causes. Interns may be involved in research, advocacy, project management, or community outreach. Working with NGOs offers a unique opportunity to positively impact society, develop a global perspective, and build a network in the development sector.
- SMEs and Startups
SMEs and startups often offer hands-on internship experiences. As part of a smaller team, interns will likely work directly on various tasks and projects. This environment fosters innovation, creativity, and a sense of ownership. Interns can deeply understand business operations and contribute directly to the company’s growth.
- Government Agencies
Interning at a government agency provides exposure to the workings of the public sector and an opportunity to contribute to the betterment of the community. You will likely also meet with many industry professionals who come for meetings, provide services, or require approvals from government agencies.
- Embassies and Consulates
Interning in embassies and consulates allows students to see the workings of the governments of other nations and can be a platform for a career in international relations. Many of these embassies and consulates also have chambers of commerce that cater for the affairs of companies from their country, providing opportunities to network with industry professionals.
- Cultural Institutions
Museums, art galleries, and cultural centres have units where students can find internship opportunities. These opportunities appeal to students interested in arts, heritage, and cultural preservation. Interns learn about arts and cultures while connecting with a diverse audience of visitors to these institutions.
In this topic, we have covered various places you can find internship opportunities. In the next topic, we will explore how to Research and Reach Out to Organisations for Internship Opportunities.