Internships are a great way to build work experience in the field of your choosing. This is essential, because the job market gets more and more competitive with every graduation that comes and goes. Your experience on a one-page resume can make a huge difference in how a potential employer sees you versus the other applicants for a position.

Now that we’ve established why internships are important, the next question is when should I start applying for them? Ideally, the earlier you start, the better. I personally started the summer after my high school graduation. This will give you more time to get used to the whole process of being hired and working for a company (paid or non-paid). However, if you’re approaching your 3rd, 4th, or 5th year in college, that’s still fine! It all comes down to the quality of the internships you sign up for, as well as extracurricular activities that can help equip you with skills to get a job post-graduation. However, before you get down to applying, you have to start by building the foundation to get there.

Create your online presence

With a lot of resources on the internet on how to make a resume and a cover letter, I’d like to focus on a severely underrated part of the process: online career platforms like LinkedIn or Kalibrr. These platforms are kind of like online resumes, but also allow you to expand your network and apply for jobs all in one place. Most companies only post their job postings on LinkedIn or Kalibrr, so it’s worth it to create an account to speed up the hiring process.

If you’re on the younger side (like me), a presence on these platforms may convey to an employer that you’re serious about growing your potential career, since most teenagers aren’t busy crafting their perfect LinkedIn profile. This can set you apart from other applicants of the same age looking for a summer job.

Quality or quantity?

A question that gets asked a lot is: should I apply to a lot of places regardless of whether it’s the industry I like, or should I be selective with what I want to apply to? I’ve personally been on both sides of the spectrum, and I can vouch for being selective with what you want to apply to. Shotgunning, while covering more ground, often doesn’t work and can tire you out. You’re more likely to not spend too much time on the cover letter or researching the company, which can affect how an employer perceives you. It also leaves you prone to grammar mistakes in your email, or worse, accidentally calling the company by the wrong name.

Not only that, if you do get accepted, it’s easy to get demotivated and burnt out by working in a job that doesn’t interest you. The industry you’re in can quickly turn 3 months of summer into 3 months of a living hell. Yikes.

Being specific with what you apply to can leave a huge impact on your future career. All of us more or less have an idea on what industry we want to pursue. Remember: work experience isn’t just valued in a vacuum. Companies are looking for relevant experience in the position you eventually apply to. For example, if you want to be a writer after college, but do odd jobs for your internships that don’t apply writing skills, then you’re most likely not going to be hired. It’s key to be strategic and smart with how you spend your time job-hunting, as this benefits you both in the short-term and in the long-term.

These are just some of the basics that I believe can give a great start to interning in the Philippines. The Bumpy Career is a blog that goes in depth with internship and career advice for Gen Z and Millennials here at home, so take a look into it if you’re looking for a more detailed guide with how to go about it.

There you have it! These two tips can help you find your footing when it comes to deciding whether or not you want to intern. Paid or not paid, going through these meaningful experiences can help ease you into the world of “real” work and learn the ropes much, much quicker.

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