7 helpful tips to get an internship with no experience
If you are a student, a recent graduate, or someone, who is looking for a career change, then you have probably considered finding an internship at some point.
While internship positions can serve as a great starting point to build your future career, in reality, getting one can be quite tricky. Here is some relevant data I found in my research.
- The number of internships in the U.S. per year is approximately 300,000.
- About 60% of internships are paid positions (40% are unpaid).
- The average hourly pay for internships in the United States is $20/h.
- Companies give nearly 70% of interns a full-time job offer.
When it comes to internships, employers usually expect that candidates won’t have much work experience, if not any at all.
However, the competition for such entry-level opportunities can be huge, which makes the task of impressing an employer a tough one.
To help you stand out from the crowd, here I will share with you some clever tips on how to get an internship with no work experience!
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Can you get an internship with no experience?
You can get an internship with no experience. Since the purpose of internships is to provide candidates with professional training, it is not mandatory to have any previous experience in the field. Instead, you can show that you deserve the job by emphasizing your qualities.
To get an internship with no previous experience, you need to rely on your soft skills, industry knowledge, and motivation.
While work experience is certainly an advantage, employers can be equally impressed by the set of skills you have acquired through education, extracurriculars, and volunteering.
Below, I have outlined some tips that can help you increase your chances of getting the internship you want:
1. Research the field
Before you start writing your resume, take the time to research what skills and qualifications are required for the job position you want to pursue.
Think how the skills you already have can fit those. You can also visit the websites of the companies where you want to apply and see what they do, what qualities they value, and what professionals they are looking for.
Additionally, you can try talking to someone who works in the field you are interested in. This can be a university professor, friend, or family member. Ask them for some insights and a piece of advice.
2. Think of your extracurricular activities
When you have no work experience to bargain with, you should consider what else you can bring to the table.
Perhaps you have participated in a club, sports team, or cultural activity throughout your high school years, which has helped you work on your time management, team working, communication, and problem-solving skills.
Essentially all these qualities can help you in the professional world and are highly valued by employers.
If you haven’t participated in something like that or you just want to expand your resume, most universities have various student societies, so consider joining one that will suit your interests.
Employers would like to see you have taken the initiative and kept yourself busy.
3. Take part in a training course
Nowadays, there are plenty of online or in-person courses that can help you acquire a certain level of qualification.
There are various options out there and the duration of these courses can vary from a couple of weeks to several months.
The good news is that at the end of most of the courses, you will receive an official certificate or diploma, which you can later show to your future employer and accredit the acquired knowledge.
You can also attend a workshop that focuses on professional development. The first place to check would be your university or college.
You can also expand your search by checking with institutions and organizations near you that might be hosting one.
4. Join a volunteering program
While volunteering is not officially recognized as work experience, it can prove quite beneficial to your employability.
Many organizations need help but don’t have the budget to afford it, so why not take advantage of that and gain some useful experience.
The more closely related the voluntary work is to your major or field of interest, the better.
The benefits of volunteer work are many, both for the community and for you. Offering your time and effort free of charge shows that you are proactive and will help you gain experience and broaden your skillset.
Moreover, there is nothing better than the mental reward you receive by participating in a volunteering program, knowing that you help the community.
5. Emphasize your previous experience
If you have previously held an occupation that is not related to the internship you want to get, don’t think it means you have absolutely no experience that counts.
Although it might not have been in the field of your intended career, it is still an experience and it has taught you something.
No matter what your job has been and how minor your responsibilities may seem to you, consider how you can relate it to the internship you are applying for.
Make sure to mention it in your resume and later in the interviewing stage, you will have the opportunity to explain what this experience has taught you and how you can apply the acquired skills in your future work.
6. Enhance your language skills
Employers and recruiters love multilingual candidates. Of course, it depends on the position you are applying for, but in most cases, knowing more than one language can be very beneficial.
Many companies expect candidates to be fluent in at least one foreign language.
Even if language skills are not relevant to your desired internship position, speaking foreign languages can still be seen as a huge advantage.
That’s mainly because employers recognize that learning a language takes lots of hard work, consistency, and patience, and thus, they see candidates, who have taken the required effort to learn a language, as highly beneficial for their company.
7. Get yourself a good recommendation
Some companies will ask you for a recommendation letter or references when you apply for a job.
Even if this is not obligatory, it would be nice if you take the extra step and ask a university professor or former manager to testify about your character, skills, and knowledge.
If you will be asking someone for a letter of recommendation, make sure you give the author plenty of time. The person writing the letter shouldn't feel pressured, as hastening the task would do no good.
In case you will be providing contacts of reference, before doing so, approach these people and ask them if they would agree to testify on your behalf in front of your future employers.
Internships for students with no experience
Most internship programs are intended for students and recent graduates, who have no experience yet, but are looking for some practice, and essentially a position that will help them find their place in the world of employment.
If you are a student in search of an internship, consider on-campus opportunities.
Colleges and universities often host work fairs and networking events where students can meet with actively recruiting companies and easily land a suitable internship.
After applying for several internships, you will be contacted by various recruiters. Here is how you can politely decline offers from those you are not interested in.
Another option would be to visit a career center. Universities commonly have an employability office, where you can go and ask for some help in finding a part-time job, internship or placement.
In addition to providing you with a list of current vacancies, the staff there will also be happy to assist you with your CV preparation and application process. Also, don't forget that you can apply for a full-time job even if you don't have previous experience.
(One of the most important professional skills that you could acquire, especially when applying for internships and jobs, is to learn how to negotiate your salary.
Make sure to check our extensive guide on how to negotiate salary successfully and increase your chances of getting hired.)
Can you get an internship without a degree?
To get an internship you don’t necessarily have to hold a degree. If you are a student, depending on your program, you may even need to do an internship before you complete your studies.
Therefore, the possession of a higher education diploma is rarely expected for intern positions.
However, don't think that if you are not a current student, it means that you won’t be able to secure an internship. Some employers will require you to be enrolled in university, but others will not.
After all, if you have what to offer in terms of skills, knowledge, or experience, you have every chance to be considered for an internship like any other degree-holding candidate.
Of course, this depends on the nature of the work. To land an internship in an industry like healthcare, technology, engineering, or business, you will have to be at least in the process of pursuing a degree.
If you are offered an internship but you are not happy with the wage, take a look at our guide on declining a job due to salary.
Easy internships to get
Getting an internship is not as hard as you may think. As I have already mentioned, while you can get an internship without having on-field experience or a degree, the tricky part would be to stand out from the crowd.
Eventually you will get calls from one of the companies you applied to. Here are the signs you should be looking for to determine if your phone screening was a success.
With an outstanding resume and the ability to promote your qualities, any internship can be potentially easy to get.
But if you really want to improve your prospects, here are some ways in which you can easily find an internship:
- Regularly browse through internship-focused websites, like Chegg Internships and Interns World.
- Don’t forget to check common job search websites, as well, such as LinkedIn, Indeed, and Glassdoor.
- Follow companies you like on social media and check their websites often for open positions.
- Attend job fairs and networking events, where you can speak in person to recruiters.
- Email companies where you would like to work and ask if they offer intern positions.
If you are interested in a particular company or organization, here is how you can grab their attention through a simple email.
Frequently asked questions
How can I make my application stand out without relevant experience?
Highlight transferable skills, academic achievements, and extracurricular activities. Tailor your cover letter to the specific role, showcasing enthusiasm and potential.
How do I handle interview questions about my lack of experience?
Focus on your eagerness to learn, transferable skills, and any related academic or volunteer work. Emphasize your adaptability and commitment to the role.
How can I use volunteer work to boost my chances of getting an internship?
Showcase skills gained during volunteering that are relevant to the internship. Highlight leadership roles, teamwork, and any specific projects you contributed to.
What role do academic projects play in securing internships?
Academic projects demonstrate practical skills and knowledge. Highlight projects that align with the internship's requirements, showcasing problem-solving and collaboration.
How can I leverage online platforms like LinkedIn in my internship search?
Build a professional profile, join industry-specific groups, and network with professionals and alumni. Regularly engage with industry content and seek recommendations from peers and mentors. Also, read our guide on how to message a recruiter on LinkedIn.