Work experience

“The Internship” – a creative approach to work experience…!

On Sunday night, staff from Student Careers & Skills and the student team from Warwick Student Cinema Society, co-hosted the showing of, “The Internship”.  Certainly enjoyable, although we’re not sure Google would be quite so cavalier in their recruitment practices.

We laughed at the exploits of Billy and Nick and their somewhat creative approach to securing a much coveted Google internship – an ambition shared with many a computer science student. Their road to (eventual) career success may have been a little unorthodox, but comedy aside there were some positive career messages. As you can tell, a careers consultant is never off duty, so think of this as film review and careers advice rolled into one!

Avoid the car crash moments

There were some helpful reminders of what not to do when hunting for work experience. Conducting a Skype interview in a children’s library; lying on the application form,  inventing qualifications and expressing a clear interest in the company fringe benefits. A big no-no.


The story line was predictable and had an obvious narrative arc – the triumph over adversity so beloved of Hollywood film execs. But – cynicism aside – there were some genuine career tips (deliberate or otherwise!) that apply just as much in Coventry, as Palo Alto. Billy prepared and studied for the sales test, but forgot to listen carefully to the instructions, failing to turn on the essential software programme to assess his personal sales skills. Billy’s skills were his “uber” strength and this catastrophe cost him and the team dear, scoring a zero for the whole team assessment.  Socialising on a team night out, before another recruitment exercise, also led to near disaster. Food for thought when it comes to preparation for assessment centres or work placements. Don’t leave it to chance.

Make the most of your strengths

Billy and Nick adapted and flexed throughout the assessment process, carefully selecting their personal team roles, relying on their more tech-literate colleagues to plug the skills gap. Throughout the demands and pressures of the experience they demonstrated listening, observation, assessment and self- awareness skills, drawing on these to support, guide and lead their team to success.

Billy’s networking skills (with the seemingly unresponsive colleague, who turned out to be head of recruitment) proved to be a trump card and influenced the final decision. Note to (your)self: treat everyone you meet with respect, from cleaner to CEO.

Billy and Nick’s main adversary in the whole week, “super confident intern” got his deserved comeuppance. His arrogance and unwillingness to compromise and adapt cast a shadow over his previous good performance. Challenging the assessors and viewing his competitors with contempt and disdain, were enough to call time on his chances of being selected.

It’s not a competition

Dramatic licence aside, it’s all too easy within the heat and pressure of competitive recruitment activities to exhibit some pretty repellent behaviours. Don’t fall into a trap of treating a selection process as some kind of ruthless competition, where the winner takes all. You are competing against yourself, nobody else.

What shone throughout the film was the protagonists’ determination to keep going, drawing on their resilience and resourcefulness. Their tenacity  and good humour – despite obvious setbacks – was critical in their ultimate success.

Over to you….

Good preparation, in tandem with stamina and resilience, are critical factors in surviving the rigours of the selection process – whether that’s at the assessment centre stage, or on the job itself.  But remember, unlike Billy and Nick, you don’t have to travel solo on your career journey.  There’s plenty we can do to support you before, during and after your internship. Just pause to consider:

  • You can book appointments for specialist careers guidance
  • You can talk to us about your work experience needs and options
  • You can develop your skills and get work-ready
  • You can seek feedback on your CV, cover letter or application form
  • You can practise your interview skills and experience a mock assessment centre
  • You can talk to employers on campus and find out what they’re looking for
  • You can read all the careers resources online (we have plenty!)
  • You can ‘Ask Warwick Alumni‘ on LinkedIn and get insider hints and tips

So really, what’s stopping you? Billy and Nick had neither the support networks nor the relevant experience to help them fly, and had to make do with grit and charm. You have plenty of help at your disposal, so if you really want that internship – Google or otherwise – start using it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s