Why is networking essential? How many jobs do I need to apply for? The list of questions one has when applying for an internship abounds. ESSEC Global Bachelor of Business Administration (GBBA) student, alumni and career services give us the low-down on some of the top questions you might have.
With nine internships in the finance sector, and experience with companies like J.P. Morgan, Credit Suisse, AllianceBernstein and Bamboo Capital Partners, Simran Hathiramani is arguably an expert at the internship application process.
Her senior, Janice Liu, veered towards human resources and FMCG market, securing internships at global organizations like L’Oreal and LVMH before finding her full-time role in human resources at Unilever.
And then there is Cerella Sim, ESSEC Career Services Manager the Global Bachelor of Business Administration (GBBA) students’ go-to person for all advice on all things work related.
WIth their experience combined, they tackle some of the top questions you might have about an internship.
I’ve never done this before! Where do I start?
ESSEC Career Services offers a wide range of workshops covering everything from resume writing to networking to get you started. “These workshops are also progresive and staggered across the year and timed to match the stages of the internship search,” Cerella says.
What can Career Services help me with?
Simran shares that she benefited the most from the resume checks and mock interviews.
“The Career Advisor gave us a list of buzzwords that recruiters use to filter through resumes and during mock interviews, we practiced answering questions about our key strengths, weaknesses and motivations,” she recalls. “As a freshman this really gave me insight into the recruitment process and how I should approach employers.”
How do I know what resume format to follow?
Target your resume style to the industry you are applying to, Cerella advises.
Companies like Netflix or Google may be more open to creatively-designed resumes with pictures and graphics, but if you’re angling for a role in finance, consulting or hospitality, stick to black and white, and something more conventional.
What if I don’t know where I want to work?
“You may not know what you want to do, but do you know what you don’t want to do?” Cerella asks. Narrow down the options by removing the roles you know you have no interest in, and then look into the companies or industries you are attracted to, she recommends.
“I’d also recommend going for as many interviews as you can, for practice,” Simran says. “Even if you don’t think the job is the best fit, take the interview—you never know, it may surprise you.” Being open-minded is important because as she and Janice have found, sometimes passion can develop in the new roles and industries you try.
How many internships should I take?
ESSEC students must complete at least three internships to graduate—but there’s no reason to stop there.
“I found that people were more willing to hire me when I had more practical experience gained from my previous internships,” Simran shares, adding: “The firms that were responding were also of a much better quality.”
How long will it take me to find an internship? How many roles should I apply for?
“It’s not actually about the number of applications you throw, it's also about the quality of your application and the places that you apply to,” Janice says.
“You can probably apply to less companies and find an internship faster if you have a good idea of where your interests lie,” she muses, explaining that this is because when someone is genuinely interested in something, their passion is likely to shine through during the application and interview process.
Find out more tips to make your application stand out here!
Is it really hard to find an internship if I am not from Singapore?
No, because ESSEC students have a valid Singapore student pass and there is no additional paperwork to fill or quotas for companies to meet. In fact, Cerella notes: “Companies are actually very interested in hiring foreign students because of the different perspectives they bring to work!”
Of course, there are also things that you should avoid doing, which you can find out about here.
Big firm or small firm? Does it matter?
The tendency is for students to prefer larger and more trendy firms, but fact is that “sometimes when you start small, you have a more enriching experience and can learn more,” Cerella says.
In Simran’s experience, it’s also more important to look at the company culture and team, instead of just its size and reputation, because “if you have a good team, you can make almost anything work.”
How important is networking, really?
Extremely. Janice secured her internship at LVMH by networking during a career fair, and Simran has multiple stories of how networking has helped her build her career path. But what’s more important than networking, is to network well.
For Simran, this means following up each coffee chat or interview with personalized thank you notes. Besides being good manners, “it also leaves the line of communication open, so you have a point of contact that you can speak to in the future if you need to,” she explains.
Help! I’m having a tough time at my internship!
“Extreme stress, like when you are working crazy shifts, and sexual harassment are definitely no-nos can cannot be ignored,” Cerella declares, adding that any student facing these issues should reach out to ESSEC immediately.
That said, wearing multiple hats during an internship is normal, and reflecting on her own experience, Janice shares that it is okay to ask for help.
“If you face a roadblock you cannot solve, speak to your managers about it. Setting extremely high expectations for yourself isn’t productive, because at the end of the day, you’re here to learn, right?”