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THE process of getting an internship has a corresponding analogy to many things: fishing, blind archery, black jack etc. But my favourite is that of chasing boys or girls, romantically.

What I mean by this is: failure is common. It’s not always fair, knowing the person before hand helps and it involves a lot of chance. However, there are still ways you can increase your odds.

Obtaining experience in the workplace is certainly ‘à la mode’ in today’s job market. The craze of amassing as many work placements as possible, however, is not only brutal but changing rapidly.

Technology is ruffling the feathers of the HR departments who set the tone and rules in this game. Companies are using more methods to filter out candidates, so getting to the point where someone evens reads your application is becoming harder.

Despite all of this, everyone can get a placement. I even managed to get one, here’s my story and what you can learn from it.

 

Rule number one: DO. NOT. PANIC.

12 months ago, after an early life crisis, I decided that I wanted to spend this summer on a placement, to help with career decisions and beef up my CV.

After the immense self-loving sustained from reading the concoction of half truths contained in the previous edition of my CV, I took the first step of updating it.

Forever the optimist, I sent letters and emails to a list of companies I felt were “exciting” enough. It contained Microsoft, Nike, Adidas and every single f1 team. Yeah, I was wrong. I got 1 response out of 20, which, in case you were wondering, was a firm no.

Lesson 1: Don’t expect a reply and cold email/letters aren’t effective.

I learnt from my early idealism and started to use smarter methods like ratemyplacement.com and uni career fairs. I applied to 20 companies through these channels and even bagged myself a few interviews.  

Lesson 2: Don’t expect a high success rate and apply through official channels.

Yes, it takes ages to fill out the applications, yes the whole process is incredibly time consuming, and yes, you’ll start wondering if employment is really for you. But that extra bit of effort is required if you want to be successful!

Lesson 3: Sustained effort is required to be successful and it’s often a lengthy process.  

The JCB crew.

 

In the end, JCB was my first choice and I managed to convert the interview like a seasoned German penalty taker. It had taken months, I finally secured the placement I was looking for, but it was worth it.

Back to the title: “quality or quantity”, my answer is predictably that you need both.

You have to be in it to win it. Statistically, your chances of success are low but without properly filling in the applications, you’ll never get a placement.

But what do the experts think? I asked Becky Clarke, who employed me at JCB, and her response was to “do both.”

“You have to do enough so that you stand out whilst not putting all of your eggs in one basket,” she said.

The odds aren’t in your favour, but if you dedicate the time and effort you can influence them.