Welcome to the third topic of this module, which is on Researching, Reaching Out, and Applying to an Organisation
If you have identified an organisation or have a list of organisations where you would like to intern or have gotten an offer, you need to find out as much information as possible about the organisation. It can also help you to make an informed choice if you have more than one organisation as an option for your internship. Good research also increases your confidence for internship interviews. The numerous fake job opportunities out there also make research essential to your safety. Unless you have someone in your network who works directly in an organisation, the inability to find any information about an organisation is often a red flag.
The information you find about an organisation will help you decide if it is an organisation you would like to work with or not. There are several ways you can find out more information about an organisation. This is usually a mix of what the organisation says about itself, what people who have worked there say about it, and what others say about it.
- Websites and Social Media Pages
Company websites are a treasure trove of information about an organisation’s mission, values, products/services, and recent achievements. Review the ‘About Us,’ ‘Mission/Vision,’ and ‘Careers’ sections. Take note of their core values, ongoing projects, and any internship programs they offer. Check social media pages such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram. You can also follow the social media pages of the founders and key executives of a company.
Many companies have pages on LinkedIn. Visit these pages to view insights into its size, structure, and recent updates. You can also view the profiles of employees working in the company. LinkedIn will also let you know if any alumni of your institution work there. On the right side of the company page, LinkedIn will also show you similar companies. By clicking on ‘Similar Companies,’ LinkedIn will present you with a list of companies that share similar industry focus, size, or other characteristics.
- New, and Press Releases and Media Features
You can do a Google search of the articles, news articles and press releases to provide valuable information about the company’s recent accomplishments, partnerships, expansion plans, or any challenges they may be facing. This knowledge can help you tailor your application and showcase your understanding of the organisation. These may be published by the organisation, media houses, or third parties. These may include interviews, write-ups, and podcasts involving the founder and key executives of the organisation.
- Online Reviews and Conversations
Online reviews have become an essential source of information for individuals researching companies, products, or services. Let’s explore some popular platforms for online reviews and their significance in the decision-making process. Google Reviews provides valuable insights into businesses and organisations. Reading Google Reviews can help you understand the company’s reputation and how it treats its clients or employees. Glassdoor is a popular platform for employees to share their experiences working for a company. Current and former employees can leave anonymous reviews, rating the company, and sharing insights into the work environment, company culture, benefits, and career growth opportunities. People share their experiences working in a company on online forums such as Reddit and Nairaland. Many of these experiences are also shared on social media sites such as X, formally called Twitter. You can search for the name of the company you are researching on any of these platforms to see what comes up.
- Word of Mouth
Words go around about companies and people in the industry. Contact people with industry experience if they know a company or the company you have been trying to find more information on. Seek their insights, ask about their experiences, and inquire about the company’s reputation and work culture. Listen to what others have to say about the company.
D. Reaching Out:
An organisation you are interested in interning at may not publish an email address or link for career and internship opportunities. This does not mean that the organisation is closed to interns. Unless clearly stated in their policy that they do not accept interns, you can find ways to reach out to these organisations.
1. Find Connections for Introductions
Reach out to people in your network to ask if they have any contact who currently works with the organisation or has previously worked there. You can also check the company page on LinkedIn to find out the people who work there. LinkedIn will provide information if you have alumni who work there. You may also see people you are connected to who follow the company or are connected to the people working in the organisation. You can let these people know that you are seeking an internship opportunity in this organisation. Your chances of getting an internship are higher if you are introduced to the organisation by someone they know.
2. Cold Emails and Calls
If you cannot find anyone in your network to introduce you to the company. You may have no option but to reach out directly via email or a phone call. You can use the email and phone numbers provided on the organisation’s website. Write a short email that introduces you as a current student with your course of study and institution. Include why you are interested in interning at the organisation and how you are open to learning and supporting their work. Indicate that your CV and cover letter have been attached. Conclude the email with a specific request such as you would like to know how or when you can follow up on your internship application, or if there is another channel through which you can apply. Let the email be as short as possible, not extending beyond three paragraphs. Follow up about a week later if you are yet to get a response.
You can also use this format to make a call to the company. Be confident and enthusiastic on the call. You can write your script on paper before making the call. After introducing yourself, let the person on the other end of the phone know that you would like to intern at the organisation and would like to know how to apply. The person who picks up the call may be generous enough to share the phone number of the decision-maker with you.
3. Social Media Outreach
If you do not get any response to your email or call, you can find employees of the organisation on LinkedIn. You can search their names on Twitter to find them. If their message boxes are open, you can send them a direct message expressing your interest in interning at their organisation and would like to know how to apply.
4. In-Person Visits
Some organisations may not respond to your email or calls. This is common to many public sector organisations. If this organisation is not far from you, you may decide to visit their publicly shared address. Before visiting, try to secure an appointment or at least have a contact name to ask for when you arrive. Be well-dressed for an office visit and be prepared to briefly explain your interest in interning with the organisation. You should also have a printed copy of your CV and cover letter for submission if asked to. When leaving, try to get the name and contact of someone in the organisation you can follow up with.
Your application to intern at an organisation may be unsuccessful due to circumstances beyond your control. This is why it is important to have a list of organisations, instead of being fixated on one organisation in particular. This will provide you with more options and increase your chances of securing an internship placement.
Now that you have found sufficient information about an organisation. An organisation may publish internship openings or provide information on how to apply for a job or join their team on its website. Your outreach may have also led to your application being requested.
Let’s look at how to apply for these opportunities.
i. Understand the application requirements. Read information about the opening. Understand the skills and qualifications required for the role. Identify how your experiences, knowledge, and strengths align with those requirements. Read and understand the internship application requirements carefully. Some organisations may be specific on their timing for accepting internship applications, requirements for applicants, and documents, such as CV and cover letter, to submit. Also, pay attention to the application deadlines specified by the organisation. Submit your application before the deadline to ensure it is considered
ii. Tailoring your CVs, Portfolios, and Cover letters to the Organisation and Role
C. Submitting through the official application Channels
The likely options that an organisation provides include:
I. Email Contact
An organisation may provide on their website an email address on their career page or for job applications. An email may have also been shared with you to submit your application. Use appropriate email subject such as “Internship Application” – “Your Name” – Role. Craft a simple cover email with your CV and cover letter attached. You should receive a confirmation that your email has been received. If you don’t receive it in a week, you can follow up with a polite email to confirm if your application has been received.
I. Online Form or Job Portal
Many organisations use online application forms or portals for their job and internship openings. This may be on their website or on a third-party site that provides the service. Follow the provided link and complete all the required fields in the application form. For portals, you will have to create an account before being able to apply for any opening. You may receive an email notification that your application has been submitted.
E. Overcoming objections to the availability of internship opportunity
You will most likely encounter objections when you apply for an internship role. We will look at ways to address these objections with examples.
“Sorry, we do not take interns.”
Express your genuine interest in the company and explain why you want to intern there. Mention any specific skills or contributions you can bring to the organisation. You can also ask if they would be open to a discussion about the possibility of creating an internship position tailored to your skills and their needs.
“Unfortunately, our internship openings have closed.”
This is why it is important to start your internship application early. Politely inquire about the timing of their next internship cycle or if they accept applications on a rolling basis. You can express your enthusiasm for the company and ask if they can keep your application on file for future opportunities. Additionally, ask if there are any related departments or teams where you could potentially contribute as an intern.
“Your academic background or course is not related..”
Highlight transferable skills or relevant coursework that could benefit the company, even if your major is not directly related. Emphasise your willingness to learn and adapt, as well as your passion for the industry or field they operate in. Mention any extracurricular activities, side projects, or self-learning experiences that demonstrate your interest and capability.
“Your internship is too short. We only take interns for at least 6 months”
Explain the value you can bring to the organisation during a shorter internship period. Emphasise your ability to learn quickly and contribute meaningfully in a shorter time frame. Offer to work on a specific project or task that can be completed within your proposed internship duration, showcasing your efficiency and impact.
“We have a limited budget for interns.”
Express your willingness to explore other compensation options such as unpaid internships, stipends, or hybrid work, depending on your circumstances and the company’s policies. Highlight the long-term benefits of investing in interns, such as fresh perspectives, future hiring potential, and cost-effective support.
“We are currently restructuring our internship program.”
Express your understanding of the situation and inquire about the timeline for the restructuring process. Ask if there are any temporary or project-based opportunities you could contribute to during this transition period. Offer to be flexible and adaptable as they work through their changes, demonstrating your commitment to the organisation.
In all cases, it’s important to maintain a polite and professional tone. Listen to the objections carefully to understand what is being said and what is not being said to respond appropriately. Thank the representative of the organisation for the consideration and make it known you would like to stay in touch for future opportunities. Continue your applications to other organisations on your list.