A different U.
I think SMU’s catchphrase is well known all over Singapore, if not all over Asia as its reputation rises as one of the best university for management and economics courses. What makes SMU students different, personally, is the fact that the university prepares its undergraduates and graduate students so well in terms of business dos and don’ts as well as its extreme emphasis on internships and working experience on top of academic excellence.
So how do you apply internships SMU-style?
1. Plan ahead
I think the most basic question that freshmen should know how to answer is what kind of job are you looking at after you graduate. Planning is essential to ensure your secure internships which are either interesting to you or will be helpful to secure your future jobs. Most of the students don’t know what they want to do and end up drifting and going around trying to secure any internship that doesn’t really do them any good. Companies do look at your CV to see what internships or school-related activities that you have done and those things count in your application. So before starting anything, try to talk go to many information sessions or talk to your career counselors to find out what’s there for you and plan from then on.
2. Do your homework
SMU students benefit from Finishing Touch Workshops, which are 6 compulsory sessions are catered for undergraduates, especially freshmen and sophomores before they embark on internships. They would be instructed how to write resumes, cover letter and even how to prepare for interviews. Things that I think was most useful from FTW sessions are the tips provided by their instructors. These tips have been proven useful during networking sessions and engaging with potential employees. There is a standard checklist which needs to be done before applying: go on wetfeet or at least google the companies that you’re applying to or interested in, go for their information sessions or private parties which are sometimes available to the students, interact with their existing employees or ex-interns in those companies. Those are the basic things you need to do before proceeding with your application. You need to know and decide whether the positions and the companies are suitable for you.
3. Look for opportunities
In Singapore, each public university has a platform where students can browse through for internships (or full-time jobs for year four students) or usually the university’s own career services centre will blast internship opportunities available to student from certain majors. However, fret not that you don’t have these opportunities if you’re not from Singapore or studying in other universities because the companies will publish any internship opportunity online on their websites or through their own employees. Therefore, browse through the websites of the companies which you are interested in and look for opportunities, look at LinkedIn and Facebook, make sure you find seniors who are currently working at the companies you are eyeing at and get some inside information from them. Networking and resourcefulness are greatly needed to source for internships.
4. Cover letter and Resume
I think these two things are the most important things that you have to make sure in order to secure those all-determining interviews and assessment centers. Standard resume in SMU and I think the best type of resume should be one-pager, clean and structured. It should contain your basic information, academic background and GPA, internship experiences and achievements (leadership positions, awards, etc). It is optional to include interests but this may count if you’re fighting against strong candidates with similar backgrounds and achievements as you are. Cover letters should be crafted solely for the company and a position that you’re applying for. The greatest taboo of all is to copy paste your cover letter, which reflects that you don’t care about the company, and the internship you’re applying for. Cover letter complements your resume; it should provide the company with your motivation of applying for the internship, how you have been planning your future career and why you are a suitable candidate for the internship. Tell your story, make it personal and put certain amount of efforts to make the hiring managers to put you on the “interview” pile (don’t forget to make sure your LinkedIn account is up to date as well).
5. Never-ending preparations
If you have received a phone call or an email to invite you for an interview, then let me congratulate you. This interview is a chance for you to put your best self and sell yourself for the internship position. The hiring managers have known you a little bit better through the resume and cover letter, so don’t bother telling them what is already there, tell the stories. Make sure that you know what the company is currently doing or planning to do and how you fit into the picture, do your own analysis on the company and show that you have placed great effort and you will be a great asset to the company. Be amiable, calm and confident- being endearing doesn’t hurt and companies love smart and confident recruits. Don’t forget to dress formally too, make sure you iron your clothes and wear formal shoes, these little details help to impress the hiring managers on top of your performance.
Well, that’s how you prepare for your internships- SMU style, internships are the best opportunities any student can have which would help greatly in simulating your future career so choose and plan wisely. It never hurt to over prepare. Good luck!
Photo is credited to Singapore Management University.