A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
As some of you know there is the option to do an internship as part of your discretionary space. As part of my own programme, International Studies, this opportunity comes in the first semester of my third year. For some programmes this is also an option. I have been lucky enough to get an internship for the first semester of next year. The process was long, but I have learnt some things along the way.
I expected to get an internship quite soon into my search. I was so wrong. I must have easily applied to over 40 or 50 internship programmes in England, the Netherlands and Egypt. It took so many months and really looking in some unexpected places to find internships. My experience is definitely not going to be everybody’s because I was also searching through the COVID-19 pandemic so many of the internships I applied for were cancelled. Beyond that though there are lots of people who also submitted multiple applications and received several rejections. Don’t be disheartened! Perseverance is key here. There will probably be lots of rejections, or even a lack of answers, don’t take this personally they usually have so many applicants. It doesn’t matter how many you get rejected from, as long as you get accepted to one you like in the end.
I realised that some of the best places to find internships weren’t always the traditional jobs boards. Don’t get me wrong, look there too but there are lots of other promising places you can check. Follow a couple of Facebook pages for internships or for the places you want internships. Chances are someone from those organisations will post there before a job board and you can message straightaway to know more. The school also has a really excellent job board, it has many jobs which are relevant to our study or perfect for people with qualifications like ours. Check out the career service on LinkedIn and Facebook, there’s often really good opportunities on there. Finally, if you have connections use them! I know it feels strange to ask for a recommendation from a family friend or family member but so many people do this. The unfortunate truth is that connections really do help, and whilst merit is important, a recommendation will go so far.
Once you’ve found and applied to some internships you may get a few interviews. Regardless of the outcome, straight after the interview it’s good to send a follow up email. If you get a rejection do this also. There are lots of excellent templates for this online. It’s a great opportunity to get some feedback and leave an impression for any future positions.
Let me know how you’ve found searching for internships in the comments. I’ll be posting a follow up soon talking about all of the steps for getting your internship to count for university. If you have any concerns about finding an internship talk to the careers service too – they’ve been quite helpful!