How to boss your applications

Intrigued by internships? Wild about work experience? Passionate about placements?

Great! Internships and work experience are brilliant ways of finding out about industries and sectors, before committing to a graduate job and now is the season to consider applying – check out upcoming internship deadlines on our recent blog post.

But they can often feel elusive.

So, we’ve got International Development student Nina Olshan to give us her top tips for applying for work experience whilst studying. Over to Nina…

Image property of Nina Olshan.

By the time I graduate from my undergraduate degree this summer, I will have worked on a research project with a professor, worked on a research project for Oxfam, worked for a year in a professional office, and interned with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). As an International Development student, this is a pretty good CV to have as the job search begins.

On top of this, I’ve made tons more applications – some for part-time work and some to volunteer. Some of my applications were successful, and some were rejected but I’ve gained a lot of experience in crafting applications, so here are some tips I’ve gained along the way.


  • Speak both passionately and professionally 

Unfortunately, loving something isn’t enough. You have to prove to someone that you are going to be a good employee—a good investment—for their organization. Passion is part of that, but even more so is professionalism. Speak confidently, give specific examples, and lean into formalities and niceties.


  • Keep on keeping on. Rejection is part of it.

I have sent lots of applications and not gotten an interview. I’ve taken several interviews and not gotten the job.  That rejection can hurt, but there is a lot to learn from it. As undergraduate students, we need practice, so I try to see rejections as part of my experience. I also think that if you aren’t getting rejected, you may not be aiming high enough, so push yourself, and give it a shot.


  • Market yourself, and market yourself well.

It may be uncomfortable, but getting a job or internship involves a lot of self-marketing. Look at yourself honestly and play up your skills. If you have planned events for a society, that should go on your CV. Are you fluent in multiple languages, or have spoken at events? Those things should go on your CV. You need to learn how to and practice proving to others what your strengths are, and how you can use those strengths to help them. If you aren’t a particularly confident person, it can help to ask a friend what they see as your strengths, and work from there.

The King’s Careers take:

Marketing yourself can sound intimidating but practice makes perfect! To learn about marketing yourself, check out our recent networking blog and our brand new LinkedIn Learning collections. To access these, just head to LinkedIn Learning and log in with your King’s credentials (you don’t need to have a personal account) and check out courses from your organisation. For more tips about accessing LinkedIn Learning, read the advice here.


  • There is no substitute for having done things. Grades are not as important in the real world.

This can be very tough to hear as a University student, as we all put so much effort into our degrees, and often stress out so much about marks. When job hunting though, the candidate with more experience will almost always win over a candidate with great marks, but no experience. You can use the skills you learn as a student in a job, but you must prove to employers that you will do that.


Don’t forget that Careers & Employability has tips and internship advice on our Keats pages, and we advertise loads of opportunities on our CareerConnect. Make sure you look directly at organisation’s job pages, and check out job sites, such as w4mp, Charity Job, and Indeed (Nina’s favourite job site!).

However, internships are not the only path to take and, whilst internship schemes are common in the world of finance, banking and law, other sectors have fewer opportunities, and tend to advertise in the spring and summer. Use this time to sort out your LinkedIn, learn to network, or attend our events.

Not everyone can, or wants to, intern – part-time work, volunteering, or working on a student society committee are all great examples of knowledge and experience and can be an equally valuable way of developing your employment skills!