Searching for an Internship (in STEM)

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Internships are a good route to take to gain invaluable experience within a professional setting, such as a lab based environment. It is a great opportunity to work closely alongside individuals with extensive knowledge in the subject area and to develop your lab based skills, awareness and ability. Many lab internships, however, are very competitive and it is important to make yourself stand out as a desirable candidate. Here are a few steps you can take in preparation for finding a lab-based apprenticeship most suited to you:

Be Organised and Use resources available to you:
Internships commonly start at the beginning of the year, so it’s best to start looking through the summer to ensure a start date in September. Many, however, are available throughout the year, so it’s important to be pro-active and make the most of the free resources around you, either from your university or the internet. You can access specific apprenticeship/ internship websites which will allow you to browse through the vacancies available. Remember to look for a vacancy according to your interests – the experience will be more enjoyable and valuable if it revolves around a topic that interests you! The careers service is also on hand to offer any extra help needed in choosing or finding a suitable internship.

Tailor your CV and Cover Letter:

Before applying to a lab directly, make your CV and cover letter specific to the role you want to apply for. General CVs will not be effective as they imply that you have not done your research into the role/company. Your CV is the perfect opportunity to make yourself stand out from others applying and showcase your relevant skillset. In addition to this, mention any relevant work experience if you have any, particularly if it is science related. This shows your potential recruiter that you display commitment to the field of your chosen subject area. Again, utilize your university’s careers hub– they may offer to review your CV and give constructive advice to help improve it.

Take a Professional Approach:

After these steps, there if only one thing left to do: you need to start actively approaching organizations that may offer experience. Many online vacancies just require an application form to be filled in or a CV to be sent through email. Ensure you take a professional approach and double check for any minor spelling or grammar errors!

There are many other ways to contact faculties, such as through networking on websites like LinkedIn or Facebook. On LinkedIn, find your university on there and use the Alumni Connections tool which could offer you a list of organizations your university works closely with. You can also set up connections with faculty members, campus speakers and past supervisors that may offer advice which laboratories to approach and the best way to do so.

You can also directly email faculties to see if they are offering any internships. Compile a list of few labs and email the tutor/professor in charge. Create a short but compelling message that outlines your interest in partaking in an internship, your availability and relevant skills. Taking this direct approach could mean a higher chance of getting noticed personally by your potential employer, rather than your CV getting lost in a sea of other online applications.

Despite the competitive nature of internships, attempts in finding a lab based one using initiative and good organization should be successful. Remember, do not be put down if one faculty rejects your application – persistence is key!



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