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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Internship hunting. Sounds easy? Think again.

Catherine Batch is back this year with another blog for us. This time she discusses her internship hunting and what she is learning from it. 

As a second year undergraduate, it is time to realistically assess my future career options.  Thankfully, my degree is in History; a subject known to appeal across all job markets and shout to employers, “LOOK! I can analyse lots of odd stuff AND think quickly under pressure!”

Simple?  Unfortunately not: for me, I have found that there are two stoppers in this plan. 

1)      I’m not entirely sure which career path I want to take
2)      All of my possible choices are amongst the most competitive graduate markets

You can see my problem.

Using my logical and analytical history brain, I decided that vacation internship applications were my best strategic step.  Indeed, for companies such as Deutsche Bank, 80% of interns were taken on after penultimate year placements.  It is a massive and almost necessary route into the big companies.  So, thinking along those lines, I decided to apply for the Barclays Marketing Summer Internship.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Marketing is something that I’m really interested in.  I find the opportunity to be creative in my line of work a necessity for any graduate career that I eventually pursue.  Applying to the Barclays scheme seemed an extremely sensible idea and, although it would undoubtedly be competitive, if successful it would be an amazing foot-in-the-door.

So, I registered online and started to progress through the application programme.  My love of being busy and constantly on the go shone through in the questions relating to extra curricular activities.  Being a part of the history society, women’s football committee, and writing for Target Jobs all undoubtedly helped me through the first round.

And then came the numerical reasoning test.  As my friends and family would tell you, numbers are not a strong point.  I can deal with them in small doses, and in practical situations, but at the first sign of a mathematical test I crumble.  It is, in effect, my Achilles Heel.  After whining to my mother for days over the Christmas holidays, I started my ‘numbers’ revision. 

It didn’t go well.

With a massive difference of 46% for my numerical practice and 76% for my verbal, the prospects of getting through the Barclays application second round was looking slimmer every second.  And, true to form, on the real test I managed to get 3/15 correct.

I was devastated.  After three days of revision (I know, I got a bit engrossed), I still had performed poorly even by my dire mathematical standards.  My career in marketing seemed over before it had even begun.

Until my wise mother reminded me of a vital point that, in my excitement and desire to work for Barclays, I had overlooked.  I had applied for an internship in a bank, an organisation where numbers are everything.  I was never going to enjoy and thrive working in an environment where everything revolved around shares and fiscal evaluations.  My strengths lie in writing and words, not economics. 

So I have now decided to ‘crack on’ with finding work experience within publishing; a market no less competitive but with options that suit my personality, including marketing.  And although it requires perseverance, and a lot of telephone calls, I’m enjoying the application process.  I finally can look forward to competing for a job that can challenge me in all the right ways.

I think I’ll leave the numerical reasoning tests for now.

If you are searching for an internship or need advice on how to complete your applications, why not search and use our internship advice pages.