My experience: internship at WWF
An internship is often a important part of your master’s programme. It gives you relevant work experiences and helps you prepare for the job market. Now the thought of finding an internship is maybe a daunting topic for you. At least for me it was. Because it represented the end of my studies Geo-Information Science and the start of my career. Making the ‘wrong’ decision for my career scared me.
I am now nearly 2 months into starting my internship at WWF. In this blog I will be writing about some of the key points that helped guide my decision. I hope that they can help you too.
When to start looking for an internship?
Bigger companies with well established internship schemes can have an extensive process to go through. For this you often need to apply at least 6 months before the start of your internship. If you think you might be interested in doing an internship like this it is really worth looking into the big companies in your field and seeing what they offer. And more importantly, when. As often they have a more rigid timescale so you should plan your studies around this.
For smaller companies, in my experience and that of my peers, it is okay to apply around 3 months (even up to 1 month) before. A couple of companies told me to get back in touch closer to the time when I reached out in November/December, hoping to start in April.
How to find an internship?
Finding an internship opportunity can be a bit of an ordeal. Honestly apart from the bigger companies I was not even aware of many of the companies in my field. To get better acquainted I set up job alerts on LinkedIn, not only for internships but for general positions in the field. Reading the job descriptions there really helped my to understand the kind of role that I hope to go into and also to get to know more about the companies in my field. Even if they were not advertising internships, I reached out to those I was interested in. This is a bit more of a personal route than filling out a standard application form.
Also, make use of your network at the university, talk to your study advisers etc. as they also have lots of contacts. I do not think it is the case for all courses of study but on Brightspace mine has a list of internship opportunities. I found mine by looking through the opportunities from previous years and reaching out to WWF to see if they had anything similar currently.
For international students this is an important factor, especially whether the company will cover you travel costs if you need to travel. Even if they don’t initially advertise that they will cover travel expenses it is worth asking as it can make a big difference. I know many of my peers have been able to get theirs reimbursed. Of course, the alternative option is relocating and whether that is something that you want to do.
This ties nicely into my next thing to consider- if the company offers remote working. For me the company does not cover travel but the team mostly works remotely. The downside of this, is that I will make fewer connections by not being present in the office. The upside is that I do not have to be in the office 9-5 each day. I have more flexible working hours which I can tie around my side job and other commitments.
What do you hope to get out of the internship?
The final point I will make is to think about what you are hoping to get out of the internship? Do you want to gain any specific experience or are you hoping to gain a permanent job position? These are things that you should directly ask in your interview. Some interviews I have been in explicitly said that they do not hire interns following the internship process as they do not have the funding available to do so.
I would also recommend trying something new in your internship, especially if you are unsure on what your career path will look like. For instance I have lots of experience working for smaller companies in small teams. Therefore for my internship I really wanted to have the experience, even though I was not sure I would like it, to work for a large company.
I hope this has given you some things to think about and good luck with the process!