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Student Internships: A How-to Guide

Tips for organizing an internship

Teaching & Studies / Starting Your Degree

Many degree programs require the completion of an internship. This experience not only allows you to apply the theoretical knowledge acquired during your degree, but also serves as an important step towards professional orientation. Deciding which area fits best and where to start with the internship search can be challenging. up2date. collected tips from the University of Bremen’s Career Center and student intern Olivia.

How do I find the right career field?

In the beginning, you may not even know which direction you would like your internship to take. The Career Center is a joint institution of the University of Bremen and the Bremen-Bremerhaven branch of the Federal Employment Agency and can help you to figure this out. Petra Droste’s university team as well as Katja Schröder and her colleagues from the employment agency advise students who have questions about employment, career orientation, and internships.

If students are unsure in which field they want to do an internship, Petra Droste suggests taking advantage of the counseling services of the Career Center and the Career Orientation Offices of the university faculties as early as possible. Counselors there will analyze your profile to help you determine what career field best suits you based on your abilities and interests as well as the modules you enjoyed most during your degree. “Your interests and abilities are at least as important as your professional background,” says Petra Droste. She also recommends not only doing mandatory internships. “You can also do an internship to gain experience and find out which career field suits you well or does not suit you.”

Discussing ideas with those closest to you can help to provide clarity. Olivia is a bachelor’s student studying English-Speaking Cultures and Art-Media-Aesthetic Education in her seventh semester and will begin an internship in a Bremen art museum in March. With the help of her roommate, who has already worked in several art and cultural projects, she was able to decide which field she would like to pursue for her internship.

How do I start my internship search?

The first critical step is to pay attention to the guidelines given for a mandatory internship. Each department has internship officers and career orientation offices who can help you if you have questions about the requirements. If you know which direction you would like your internship to take, it is a good idea to gather as much information as possible. In Olivia’s degree program, for example, a mailing list from the secretary sometimes includes announcements regarding possible internships. Online job boards list potential internships. Katja Schröder suggests formulating concrete search terms as well as researching in closely related fields. If you are interested in an internship in marketing, you can search for similar career fields such as public relations and communication. Depending on your degree program, you can also consult institutes in your faculty. These have links to businesses and can often provide you with internship suggestions.

How do I prepare my application?

Before applying, it is advisable to call the company you are interested in working with. Then you have a direct contact person you can address and thus avoid the anonymous “Dear Sir or Madam” on your application letter. “Plus, you can find out exactly what the requirements are, and you can tailor the information you provide about yourself accordingly,” says Olivia. Petra Droste adds, “Referring back to a previous phone call in your application demonstrates your interest and commitment.” She also emphasizes the importance of proper preparation.

It is important to inform yourself, about the company you are applying to work with in particular, but also the career field in general. From participating in various hiring committees at the University of Bremen, Petra Droste knows from experience. “You can see at a glance which applications are standardized, like those you find on the internet.” One of the most critical skills to develop is adjusting your application to fit each individual company. This includes explaining in your cover letter why you want to work in a specific company and career field, why you would be a good candidate for the company, what you would like to learn, and what this internship can provide for your future.

Online application systems are becoming more and more common. Petra Droste suggests, “For online applications, we recommend participating in one of our workshops to understand the algorithms that are used to select candidates.” You will learn, for example, which key words you should use and which to avoid.

How do I prepare for an interview?

Before the interview, applicants are often very nervous. Attending the Career Center’s job application training events can help. Practicing for job interviews is also part of the advisory meetings. “In some cases, we practice with mock interviews. These are recorded so that you can reflect later on how to improve,” explains Petra Droste.

It can also help to think about questions that you want to ask before the interview. These show you are interested in the work and that you have given some thought to what awaits you. In particular, your questions should pertain to things you are genuinely interested in, so that they can help you get ready for your internship. Olivia’s questions during the interview helped her a lot. “They were very important for mental preparation,” she says.

What is the advantage of doing an internship during your degree?

Internships are a good opportunity to check whether the professional ideas you had at the beginning of your degree still suit you. “I think it’s particularly good to get practical insights in addition to all the theoretical knowledge from your degree,” Olivia says. Even if after the internship you find that the work is actually very different from what you imagined, you will have gained some valuable experience and have a better idea of what you want to do in the future.

Can you do your internship abroad?

No problem! This allows you to gain work experience and improve your foreign language skills at the same time. Internships abroad within Europe can be funded by the Erasmus program. Erasmus also allows you to do an internship abroad for up to a year after you have completed your studies.

If you prefer to do your internship outside of Europe, you can apply for a promos scholarship. Rebekah Cramer is the contact person in the Career Center for internships abroad at rcramer@uni-bremen.de.

Further information

Overview of Career Orientation Offices and Career Orientation Officers of the Faculties

Internship in Germany

Internship Abroad

Career Center consultation times and contact details

Career Center Events

Career Center Advisors introduce themselves

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