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SMS’ GUIDE TO INTERNSHIPS

By Catherine Verge


Image: http://dcinno.streetwise.co/2012/04/10/10-things-you-need-to-know-before-interning-at-a-startup/


For aspiring marketers in today’s job market, internships are no longer optional. Many graduate positions can require up to a year’s experience. But how do you go about actually getting an internship in the first place? SMS sat down with some ambitious student interns to figure out the answer.

Before you start searching for opportunities research what kind of company and role you would like to undertake. Take advantage of the resources available at Usyd like the Sydney Marketing Society, and the business school careers services.

Connecting with professionals in industry can be a great way to get work experience, or get advice. Creating a Linked in profile and attending networking events like the SMS careers fair are great ways to demonstrate that you’re open to opportunities.

Network with friends, family, co-workers, faculty and alumni (both high school and university). Ask around. You’d be surprised who’d know someone. See: How to make networking less awkward. 

SMS President Amy, was accepted into the Coca Cola Amatil grad program, and interned with GroupM. She recommends subscribing to job alerts from websites such as Pedestrian TV and GradConnection.

For applicants with little or no industry experience she says to promote your academic, social or sporting activities. These can translate into relevant business skills like leadership, communication, and the ability to work strategically towards a goal. “Apply for everything.” She says. “There are lots of jobs out there that aren’t highly advertised, and are less competitive. Keep your ears open to possibilities – don’t be afraid of being pleasantly surprised”.

Be flexible and open to all opportunities. Although it would be amazing to be working at an established, multi-national company, sometimes it is the smaller organizations that provide opportunities for genuine mentorship and hands-on coaching.


KPMG intern Marco says that although the big four firms all have similar application processes, you should still write an original one for every company. “Get in early. Apply the day applications open because there’s a chance you could get accepted early.”

Be vocal about your strengths. “Show your skills and achievements but don’t be arrogant” warns Marco. Understand the work the company does, and detail how your skills could contribute. Contextualizing yourself within the company makes you seem like natural fit to the organisation, which is exactly what employers look for.

Marie Claire marketing intern Vanessa says your cover letter should be personable but professional. An impressive resume can sometimes come down to layout – have a clean design that’s professional but not boring; and be succinct – try to keep it under a page. “Ultimately, getting an internship comes down to perseverance. So don’t forget to follow up”.


After a week, either call or email the company to see if they have considered your application.

It may be that they have gone with another applicant, but sometimes they could be caught up in deciding between candidates, and reaching out makes you seem keen, committed, and driven – all things employers want in an intern!

While following up makes a great impression, don’t forget to be respectful of that person’s time, especially if you are cold calling.


So you’ve been invited for an interview? It’s one thing to sound good on paper, but how do you convince someone to give you the position, especially in competition with other candidates?

Don’t turn up empty handed! Re-visit the organisation’s website and make note of their values and  examples of their work that interests you. These can be great talking points in an interview.

“Be authentic and let your personality shine” says Vanessa. “They already have your resume” which should be a detailed list of your skills and competencies, “so show them your personality. Remember that they are people too! Have a conversation”.

SMS president Amy recommends the S.T.A.R. framework for responding to tricky questions: “Explain the Situation, what Tasks were involved, your specific Actions, and the Results of those actions. And don’t forget to say thank you at the end of the interview. They’re giving up their time.”

Have questions prepared beforehand to ask at the end. This will make you look switched on, and ready for the job.


Congrats! You got the internship. But remember that whilst you may be exposed to projects, learn skills, you will no doubt be required to make copies and get the occasional coffee. Internships should be mutually beneficial – it’s all part of the experience. Remember that these people are giving up some of their time to train you and teach you valuable skills you might not get elsewhere.

Don’t turn up on day one expecting to be working side-by-side with the CEO. Contribute what you can, and work hard, and in no time, your contributions will be recognised. Proving you fit into the company culture comes with maintaining a good attitude through even the mundane tasks. Every task is an opportunity to shine.

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