The French internship search puzzle: tips and advice
The uniqueness of private higher education schools often lies in a more applied pedagogy, in the search for implementation and experience from the beginning of the studies, in the permanent quest for the development of employability.
In concrete terms, this translates into the presence of periods of work experience and immersion in companies at all stages of the training programme, and most of the time in the form of an obligation to validate skills. Thus, even the best theoretician will necessarily have to go through the field to demonstrate his ability to apply his knowledge.
The future student of a private school of higher education must therefore be prepared to do internships, but above all, to look for them throughout his or her career.
And this is where a real obstacle course often begins.
Finding an internship in France is not easy, regardless of the candidate’s origin, field of study or age. This is not new, but it is true that the recent health crisis has only increased the difficulties in this area. It is also true that an international student who often has no prior ties in France and therefore does not necessarily have access to a privileged professional network may face additional difficulties.
There are no magic wands to remedy this. However, certain pitfalls are recurrent and to avoid getting your feet wet, here are some useful tips:
When it comes to internships, it’s never too early to prepare. If you thought that starting your search two months before the planned start date was anticipating, broaden your references! To increase your chances, as soon as the school year has started and the broad outlines of your year and the internship have been presented (duration, objectives), get started!
For example, a search over 5 months instead of 2 will give you much more time to find a placement and, above all, will give you the peace of mind you need to complete your courses and exams in parallel. With more time, you will be able to test your CV, your cover letter, your follow-up procedures…
So a good internship search starts at the beginning of the school year. Armed with your letter and your CV, it is already time to target the structures that interest you and to apply for them.
2. Be rigorous
A few days before the fateful start date of the internship, we often see students in a state of panic, still at the research stage, and yet unable to say concretely how many applications they have sent, how many reminders they have received, and what reasons for refusal have been given.
Given the scale of the search and the probable need to multiply contacts, it is imperative to ensure regular, rigorous and detailed follow-up of the process. The important thing is that each action, each application is noted with its date, the contacts, the replies received (or not), the dates of follow-ups, etc.
A good internship search is therefore also a structured search with precise quantitative and qualitative monitoring of the steps taken, a real action plan that is regularly updated.
3. Use the resources available to you
If you encounter difficulties, for example by not understanding why you are getting rejections, or by struggling to contact the organisations or companies you are interested in, you need to use the tools and people who are there to help you.
In your future school – campus and even outside, there are many devices designed to facilitate this “internship search”: announcement platforms, internship service, tutors, professional speakers, alumni networks, various student communities, etc.
But you still have to use them.
Dare to push the doors open and ask people you think can help you. Meet them with your action plan and with specific questions and/or requests. All of today’s professionals are themselves former students. They have also had to find internships and they know the difficulties on the way.
Finally, a good internship search must integrate tools and resources from the very beginning of the project to put all the chances on your side.
Dear international students, future international students, at FIGS Education, we also have our own “FIGS for you” community and many collaborators in France and around the world, always there to lend you an attentive ear or exchange advice if necessary. So there is no reason why the prospect of finding an internship should hold you back in your project: apply, register, join us!