Becoming the Fundraising Intern at the University of Aberdeen Development Trust was quite special to me. Being an anthropology student, it was difficult for me to find positions related to my degree and/or interest. However, when I saw an internship related to fundraising and non-profit work, something I was passionate about and was considering for my future, I knew I had to apply and do it well!
There were two stages to the application process: the online application form and the interview.
The online application form is quite straightforward. The form asks you to fill in your details, your education history, and your work history. It also asks you to upload a CV and an optional cover letter (an optional cover letter is never optional, always add a cover letter!). I wanted my application to stand out, so I decided to make-over my CV and my cover letter with the help of the university’s Careers and Employability Service. The Careers and Employability Service has sample CVs and sample cover letters available, which are useful. The most helpful resource, however, was the mini career course Effective CVs and covering letters. This course helps you build a personal CV and covering letter, tailored to the position you are applying to, rather than a generic one which everyone has. I learned that there are two key aspects to any good application: figuring out exactly what the company wants from you and showing them how you have those qualifications through your education and work history. One tip I have for both your CV and cover letter is: be specific! Look at exactly at what skills the company wants and then show them that you have what they want by detailing the experiences through which you gained the skills. And showcase your extracurriculars! If you are part of any university society/forum/committee, put it on your CV along with the skills you gained from your role.
For your cover letter, make sure to only mention your most important and relevant accomplishments and skills. A cover letter should be short and sweet, no more than one A4 page and approx. five paragraphs. Here are my top tips:
- Make sure to address it properly (even if it is all being sent online) and try to find the name of the recruiter if you can.
- Introduce yourself, don’t just start talking about your accomplishments. Explain why you applied and add some relevant information about the position and the company, to show you researched them and are tailoring your cover letter to them.
- Your skills and/or accomplishments should be the biggest paragraph of the letter, but remember, not too long and only relevant information. And always explain how you gained the skills and how this is relevant to the position.
- Don’t forget to thank them for their time in the end but keep it formal!
Then, after you have sent your wonderful CV and cover letter, you will hopefully get that exciting email inviting you to an interview. Congratulations! Now comes the tricky part. The biggest thing I can recommend for any interview is be prepared!
For my interview, I made sure to research the Development Trust, finding out how they came to be, what their aspirations are, what they have done/are doing, who the most important people are etc. I even researched my interviewers (maybe a bit too much, considering I found the Instagram page of one of my interviewers’ adorable dog). And don’t forget to ‘research’ yourself. I made sure to find the most asked questions in interviews and prepared my thoughts and answers to them. This may seem like a lot of work, but it ensures you will be prepared for anything they ask, which in turn will make you look more confident and organized. If you’re having an online interview, like I did, make sure to pick a neutral background, practice looking into the camera, not just the screen (for eye contact) and dress professionally. It may be at home, but it’s still an interview. And right before the interview, take a deep breath and remind yourself to loosen up a bit, as long as you are confident and professional, it will go fine!
My final tip would be to, at the end, ask them questions. Perhaps about the position and work environment, for example. This not only shows that you are passionate and interested in the company, but will also help you figure out if the position is right for you and if it will give you the experience you need.
This application process taught me a lot and I am sure it will teach you too. Good Luck!