Internships are often seen as an integral step in securing a job post-graduation, and there is no avoiding their importance. They have become so popular for business students that not having one may now be seen by some as a gap in your CV. Getting one can be hard, and a good one even harder, so here’s a breakdown of what to expect in your search.
Understand the jobs
The types of jobs on offer to business students seems to be endless. In finance alone, there is a huge diversity from accounting to equity research to trading liquid assets. Getting an understanding of these areas and what you really want to do. Is investment banking really for you or do you just like the sound of a big pay cheque? How do you even get into JP Morgan? Try to get an insight into these areas as early as possible, even if the aim is simply to rule out options that are not for you.
Believe it or not, the internship is not even the first step in your search for the graduate job. Many companies host dinners, insight days or even weeks to get a look at potential interns. The structure of these events will undoubtedly change with the pandemic, but keep an eye out of these if you are starting off in university. Getting into a firm early can be a huge advantage, even if you do not end up wanting to work there.
For UCD students, the two main paths to interning are the traditional summer internship and the Quinn internship.
Summer internships vary widely. Securing one early on in your time in college can be a great steppingstone to better internships. As a warning, this is incredibly hard to secure and only a limited number of students manage to secure an internship so early.
By nature, summer internships are short. Responsibilities will not be as significant as in a year long internship, but three months is plenty of time to get a feel for a company and a role. They signal to employers that you have an interest in a particular area and can even lead to graduate offers. Getting a couple of summer internships can really help in deciphering the true quality of a job and company but means sacrificing a precious college summer.
The Quinn Internships are nine to 12 month placements, taken in a Quinn student’s third year of study. Similar programmes are run by several other degrees, though none as long in duration.
The Quinn internship hiring process is tough. Students can apply to a maximum of 5 companies offered by the school, as well as jobs outside of these. This selection is particularly tough, as a small number of high-flying students will receive multiple offers whereas others receive no first round offers. Companies still looking for interns can give second round offers and if they still need interns after this, they can offer interviews again. For those who secure positions early on, the process is swift and rewarding. However, a drawn-out hiring process is daunting and can lead to worry.
The tremendous upside of the Quinn internships is their longevity. As the programmes last for the whole academic year, both the employer and the intern have more invested in it and should get more out of it. If you end up working for the right company here, you can be an important part of the team by the end of your contract. Getting ahead of the game and learning about every role from the start ups to the Big Four is crucial. Know what you want from the internship and act accordingly.
So, what do you do on an internship? First off, stereotypes of photocopying and grabbing coffee are probably outdated. Paper is, for the most part, a thing of the past and people like to get to know their barista these days.
While a bad internship may lead to boredom, a good internship will give you training and responsibilities in key areas sought after by graduate employers. Put yourself forward for jobs from the start. Showing initiative is not showing off. The more you put yourself out there for tasks, the more people will look to you as someone they can trust.
Business students are in the fortunate position that they will most likely be paid for their work on placement. Barring a few outliers, these programmes do not pay large amounts. It is easy to be lured by larger salaries, but keep in mind that the aim of an internship is to explore an area of work and to learn. If this is done right, proper salaries in enjoyable jobs will follow.
Conor Bergin – Business Correspondent