University students tend to dread and procrastinate over the process of applying for and completing an internship, and perhaps rightfully so. However, 11 October saw the “How to Intern” event, sponsored by the Management Society, which sought to dispel some of the myths surrounding interning and to provide practical advice in order for students to make the most of the experience.
At six o’clock, the Arts Lecture Theatre was packed with eager undergraduates. They awaited presentations from fellow students who had undergone and survived internships and had come to share the wisdom they had gained.
Third and fourth years all, these young men and women had interned at firms across the private sector, from fashion houses to Silicon Valley startups. Making a particularly strong showing was the banking and investment sector, with JP Morgan, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and Citigroup interns all present.
While their experiences and duties were often vastly different, they all expressed satisfaction with their firms and the workplace environment, dismissing the popular image of cutthroat office politics and stifling servitude.
That isn’t to say, however, that an internship is a cakewalk. Long hours seemed to be the norm, as was hard work. One intern went so far as to extoll the virtues of the gym as preparation “for carrying lots of heavy things,” which to some may have seemed a welcome break from the desk-bound preparation of Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations that were a commonality of most speakers’ experiences.
Though the application processes they underwent were likewise different, from simple meetings with executives to marathon series of technical tests, interviews, and presentations, there were common threads to the advice they offered to applicants. Especially key seemed to be the importance of standing out to one’s prospective employer.
For some, this was achieved by showing an active passion for the field. For others, this was accomplished by showing extensive knowledge of affairs germane to their respective industries. Also crucial was to not be afraid of using one’s contacts to one’s advantage. Other ambitious candidates will not be as hesitant to use their contacts
If selected for a coveted internship, one mustn’t rest on one’s laurels. One speaker noted that he treated his internship “like a twelve-week interview.” Likewise, all of the individuals who took the podium stressed the importance of putting the proverbial nose to the grindstone and taking initiative. Some took on as many projects as they could juggle, others asked around the office for work to avoid sitting idle, and one even asked to be allowed to sit in on as many meetings as he could.
A successful internship is replete with benefits. Beyond simply constituting a bit of meat for one’s CV, it’s a chance to network with professionals. Some speakers expressed their intention to leverage their new contacts to find work or internships in the near future. They also developed applicable workplace skills for their résumés and got a chance to see what line of work appealed to them.
After these presentations, a representative from CAPOD took the stage to discuss the professional skills curriculum, or PSC. She stated that, through attending a series of evening lectures and workshops (some online), students can gain skill sets coveted by employers and can have their participation noted on their degree.
As audience members mingled with the former interns over coffee outside the lecture hall, Linn Tysland, president of the Management Society, gave her impressions of the success of the event.
“The turnout was more than I expected,” she noted, pleased. “I’m glad to see that so many people are engaged in their future, and want to take a step further.” She noted the value of such events to undergraduates, especially in terms of giving students a taste of what it’s like to work in different industries.
She sees the role of the society this semester as “educational,” as opposed to the more “inspirational” events that will be held after the winter holidays. Next February will bring their fourth annual conference, the “Women in Business” forum, while in the near term students should be sure to take advantage of their sponsored events (at which, it should be noted, at least one of the night’s speakers had laid the grounds for his internship). Bank of America Merrill Lynch is visiting on the 26th of October, and, if interested, look for more information on the Management Society Facebook page.
According to a written statement provided by the group, the Management Society aims to “provide a link from academic knowledge to the business environment through our invited speakers, careers workshops, and meet-and-greet events throughout the year.” Management Society membership, open to anyone irrespective of degree path at £5, provides steep discounts on their events, as well as at events and businesses across town, including line-skipping and free pre-midnight entry to The Rule.