Written on 02 Jun 2020.
I originally wanted to be a footballer. I daydreamed about training with the top players, doing something I loved every day, building my skills, performing under match pressure, and sending the crowds wild. As you may have guessed, my football career never took off. But when it came to looking for my dream business internships, I realised that many of the principles were the same. I had to connect with people who inspired me, identify what I was passionate about, find experiences that would help me grow, perform at a consistently high level, and be creative.
Today, I am proud of my internship career – not because of the company names that I worked for – but because of the people I met and the valuable lessons they taught me. It was humbling and daunting at times, but in this article, I hope to share five things that helped me to land my dream internships.
It’s good to consider where you want to be five years from now, then get in touch with the people who are already there. I did this using LinkedIn, my universities’ alumni networks, and glossaries of contacts from all of my previous internships. Having identified your mentors, you can then ask them whatever you like. For example, I contacted EDHEC alumni who worked in some of the top tech companies. I asked about the best ways to enter the sector and which skills I should develop in the meantime. Their advice was invaluable, as I could ensure my profile matched the companies that I was applying for.
For me, my two greatest interests are technology and social business. Every internship I took was a step towards working in these two sectors. When I applied to Wavestone, a consulting group, I had the opportunity to work with a variety of companies and technologies – including a large banking firm and a public organisation – and to compare their models and strategies. I also enrolled in the Stage Vendredi programme, which allows interns to spend one day a week with MakeSense, a social business organisation. Through this programme, I could work in both areas: technology and social business. By following my interests, I was consistently motivated to give my best throughout the internship. It is also important to pursue internships in organisations where their values align with your work ethics. When applying for my third internship, I wanted to work for a company that was particularly known for its innovative and international culture and positive work atmosphere. These were two of the things that led me to apply to Google – and I loved working with open, honest, and talented people, who inspired me to learn and grow every single day.
For my first internship, I knew that I wanted to work in a start-up, as they will generally give their interns more responsibility. I was aware of my lack of experience at this point, so I was anxious to do and learn as much as possible. Working with Qwant, a search engine on the rise, gave me that opportunity. When looking for your next dream internship, it is worth pausing and reflecting on your level of experience and what your particular learning needs are for the coming months.
During my interview with Google, I made a mistake on one of my answers and I knew that it would cost me. I really wanted to work for them. Instead of walking out at the end of the interview, I paused and said to them, “Would you mind if I amended one of my answers?” They were happy with this, and I was able to change my response. Several weeks later, I learned that I had got the internship. This taught me that it is never too late to change the outcome of an interview. Even if you feel that it is going badly, you can always revisit your answers at the end, and the company will appreciate your honesty. It shows that you can adapt and reflect on areas for growth within a team.
There is no one way to achieve success. You can be creative and explore a range of different pathways. I found my first internship at Qwant, after I spoke with my neighbour who worked there. He did not have any interns, but I suggested that he take me on. Thanks to this conversation, I got my first internship. It taught me to be bold and creative because you never know what may come of it.
With mentors, goal-setting, motivation, and creativity, you can pave your own way to getting your dream internship. I may never be a professional footballer, but I have gained the experience I need to pursue my business career – and I am so grateful to Qwant, Wavestone, MakeSense and Google for everything that they have taught me for the future.