Fourteen students are currently undertaking the InternPlus internship programme, working part-time in a number of University departments for a total of 12 weeks. As part of their internships they will be giving us an insight into different aspects of the programme and the jobs they are doing.
Our next insight into the InternPlus programme is from Monika, who is currently undertaking her internship with the Research and Innovation Department looking at virtual event development and social media marketing. Here she details her top tips for writing a CV and cover letter and how best to prepare for interviews.
I applied for the position of a Virtual Event Development and Social Media Marketing Intern in the Intern+ programme. I expected the application process to be rather multi-stage, yet it consisted of only two stages: CV and cover letter submission and video interview.
Composing an effective CV can be a challenging process, so I began by evaluating the job description and person specification sections. Only after defining the core skills and experience needed to be a successful applicant did I manage to incorporate them in my CV by highlighting these areas of my experience that are relevant to the job role. My advice is to emphasize actions that demonstrate your relevant skills and, if possible, quantify your results or showcase milestones. A personal takeaway worth sharing is that any experience is unique and beneficial as long as you know how to interpret its results so that they are relevant to a certain position. What I would advise against is using generic CVs or ones that you have used to apply for other positions. Instead, find what the employers are actually looking for and make sure to tailor your CV to these requirements.
The best way to make your CV stand out from the crowd is to tailor it specifically to the job you are applying for.
Only after I completed my CV did I start writing my cover letter. On a structural level, I used several questions to form paragraphs:
- Why am I applying for this position?
- What are the values of the University/department that I am passionate about?
- How is my experience relevant to the position and how would it enable me to contribute? What are my motivations to participate in the programme?*
- How would the internship benefit me?
* Here, I made a description of a certain situation and how I would apply the experience gained.
What I consider of utmost importance while compiling a cover letter is to make sure that you engage the reader and showcase your passion. Therefore, I recommend researching the department you are applying to and the position specifications so that your cover letter highlights your skills and experience, thus outlining how you can contribute by being in this certain role.
If you feel stuck and need any help while designing your CV and cover letter, don’t forget to check the Careers and Employability Service, as they offer online CV and cover letter feedback. The Service provides insight into how to best showcase your attributes as well as create a professional and engaging structure.
After successfully submitting my CV and cover letter, I was invited to an online interview through Microsoft Teams. I had 5 days for preparation. To begin with, I researched the most common questions in social media marketing interviews and designed answers drawn from my personal and professional experience. Concurrently, I conducted research on the Aberdeen 2040 strategy and the values of the University so that I could incorporate them in my answers to showcase that I have prepared prior to the interview. Eventually, such research proved to be extremely beneficial as I was asked questions about describing a certain situation (i.e. when things go wrong, demonstrated team work, designed a marketing campaign) as well as about my opinion on social media marketing development and how it can be integrated within the department.It's important to reseach the company you are applying to so you know exactly who they are and what they do.
My personal expectations for the interview were unrealistic, as I was assuming an interrogation. Instead, I experienced a pleasant conversation with the interviewers, who predisposed me to be calm and confident. So, I would advise you to not set expectations about the interview and try to relax before and during the video call. Another important takeaway is to listen and do not expect yourself to have the answers right away. It is okay to give yourself a minute or two before answering a certain question, but ensure what you are saying is relevant to the question and showcases your experience, knowledge and skills.
As video interviews are a relatively novel occurrence due to the pandemic, I felt nervous and unsure of how to prepare. That is precisely why I booked a practice interview with the Careers and Employability Service. During the appointment, I managed to perfect my answers by receiving advice from the Careers Adviser on how to best formulate and present them. Also, I got the experience of a video interview and outlined how to position my camera and maintain personal contact. I highly recommend attending such an interview, as it provides you with some prior experience of a video interview setting and the Careers Adviser gave extensive insight into the standard of answers expected and how to achieve them.
My overall experience during the application process was positive, as it enabled me to conduct research and intertwine it with my CV and cover letter. Also, the Careers and Employability Service assisted me in practicing a video interview, therefore I can rely on this experience for future interviews.