Student Resources
3 min read

Finding an internship during a pandemic: advice from a student's perspective

The pandemic has affected us all in one way or another. From the very beginning, no one imagined the impact that this crisis would bring. From my own personal experience, I felt a sense of uncertainty about my future. Let me explain why.

As a bachelor student at École hôtelière de Lausanne, we can undertake two internships during our studies. The first, an operational internship, aiming to develop each student's "know-how" and soft skills towards customer satisfaction and service. The second, an administrative internship, seeking to create more specific expertise depending on each student's interests. Whilst being a crucial internship for both your personal and professional development, it can also be quite tricky to decide where you would like to do it. However, this decision was almost made for me due to the Covid-19 outbreak. As the pandemic came and stuck its claws in, I was forced to put my wishes aside and have a more realistic approach.

Here is some advice I wish I were given before my internship search that helped me during the process of finding and securing an internship.

 

Brush up your CV

Before starting your search, you should ensure a coherent and cohesive CV. While often read for only 5-7 seconds, this document is the first selection process that any recruiter will make. You have to ensure no mistakes and a CV that represents all your accomplishments from the beginning of your studies. Don't be afraid to ask a second opinion and have someone else read it for you, as it might be easier for them to give you constructive feedback. It is also essential to write a headline, where you will explain the internship you are looking for. You can tailor this headline towards each  application that you send. After having a clear structure and content from your CV, make sure to follow up with a cover letter. It would help if you mentioned why you are interested in working with them and how you will bring value to their team.

 

Set up Job Alerts

In challenging times such as now, the demand oversteps supply. It means that with so few available positions, many candidates are fighting for the offers. This is why you ought to be ready to apply, as the first applications to a particular position can come as little as 200 seconds after the posting. What helped me the most was to set "Job Alerts." When searching on different job platforms, specify the main criteria you are looking for such as "Administrative Internship", and enabled the alerts to your email. This way, every time a new offer fulfilling your criteria is posted, you can immediately reach out. Make sure that you apply following all their requirements and modify your CV to highlight the skills that will help you the most for this particular position. Finally, don't forget to have an eye for detail, think about coming across professional even down to your document names, avoid "CV_FinalVersionThisIsTheOne", for example.

 

Be proactive

Proactivity comes to support my last point. In times of hiring-freeze around the world, the companies that still offer job positions are not in a position to waste resources for long. They will tend to move along the hiring process as quickly as possible, or as slow as necessary. You will need to remain alert on how you are moving in the different steps and promptly answer their messages or emails. Another great advice that I could give you, always thank the recruiters for their time. When following up on an interview with a thank-you email, you automatically boost your chances and stand out from your competition. The email should be personalized and acknowledging that the discussion only reinforced your interest in working with their company.

 

Don't be afraid of rejection

Personally, this was the hardest for me. We are not used to rejection, and often believe that something might be wrong with us when "your dream" company decides to pass along on your application. You have to be aware that rejection is part of the process too. Did you know that J.K Rowling was rejected from 12 different publishing houses before she managed to sell her Harry Potter pitch? During a pandemic such as the one we live right now, rejection will come x100 more than before. As humans, we tend to emphasize negative events rather than value the positive. At the beginning of my internship search, I sent ten different applications, to which only two answered with an interview proposal. Instead of wondering why the other eight applications did not reach back, I decided to focus on the ones that did. What can you do when you receive a negative answer? Don't be discouraged, thank your recruiter for their time, and if possible, ask for feedback about your application. You will be amazed by how much this can impact the perception of you.

 

Remain open-minded

Last but definitely not least, keeping an open mind during these times is crucial. We often find ourselves wishing for the perfect internship, which will satisfy all the criteria in our bucket list: a big name brand, a far-flung destination or the coolest role. However, you should always keep in mind that you are the one who puts the value in an experience. You are the one that will make an internship, perfect. We have to step away from our comfort zone and learn from the opportunities we are given. Next time you are searching on the job platforms for the ideal position, instead of focusing on a specific name, try to read between the lines of what they have to offer. You will be surprised to see that sometimes a big name will not give you half as many opportunities as a smaller company would.

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Bachelor student and Communications Intern at EHL

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