Finding an internship in France after an MS or an MEng
If you come and study in France, you’ll need to do an internship at the end of your Master’s program. The internship usually lasts from 5 to 6 months and has to be closely related not only to your field of study but also to your career plans.
Depending on the school you’re studying in, your internship will start earlier or later in the year. Usual start dates are between February and April. That being said, you need to start thinking about your career plans and where you want to do your internship at the beginning of your school year to make sure you arrive ready and confident at your first interview.
Please note that you will have to complete your end-of-study project within your host company during your internship. Completing your project might or might not be the only task you perform but it has to be related to what you do at the company. Discuss this with your future supervisor during your interview. At the end of your internship, you will have to hand out your project report (equivalent to a Master’s thesis) and defend it in front of your academic and corporate/lab supervisors.
You will find below typical timelines to help you plan your internship search:
- If your internship starts in April
- If your internship starts in February
- Go to interviews (When you’re asked to!)
You’ve got the interview! Now you want to make the kind of impression that will get you the job. Using the 4 Ps will help you present yourself confidently and professionally.
Find out about the organization and the job you’re applying for. Use the following suggestions to find the information you need:
- Study the organization’s website. Get a feeling for how it operates and how it views its employees. Look for the latest annual report, recent news releases,
- the vision statement and goals.
- Be sure you know what the position requires:
- Review the job posting.
- Ask the human resources department or hiring manager for a job description.
- Find out more about the job from someone who works for the organization.
- Talk to someone in your network who does similar work.
Identify the positive qualities you bring to the job
Make a list of your:
- skills and knowledge
- personal characteristics
Identify your accomplishments and be ready to talk about them. Interviewers want to know about your track record—they often use your past performance to predict your future success. Here are some tips to help you prepare:
Create a master list of accomplishments from your work, leisure and volunteer activities, and include the results you achieved.
Review your accomplishments. Which are related to the requirements of this position?
Put yourself in the interviewer’s position and write down questions you would want to ask a potential employee.
Describe situations that showcase your accomplishments using the Situation, Task, Action, Result and Skills (STARS) technique.
Practicing what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it will help you speak confidently about your skills and accomplishments. It’s a good idea not to memorize what you want to say. Instead, figure out which key points you want to focus on.
Review the questions you’ve come up with and the situations you’ve described in the previous section. Decide which situations would make good responses to the questions. Practice answering the questions using STARS descriptions of your accomplishments.
The interview is also your opportunity to ask questions. List 3 things you want to know about the job or the organization, and practice asking questions about them. Make sure you couldn’t be expected to know the answers from your research. Leave questions about salary, vacations or other benefits until after you receive a job offer.
Record your answers so you can see and hear how you perform. It’s also a good idea to role-play the interview with a friend.
How you present yourself in the interview—your appearance, attitude and body language—is vitally important. It’s normal to be anxious but acting as if you’re confident, even when you aren’t, can have a positive effect on both you and the interviewer. Use these suggestions:
- Dress the way you expect the interviewer to dress. Be clean, neat and well groomed.
- Smile, introduce yourself and shake hands firmly with the interviewer when you meet. Stay standing until you’re offered a chair.
- Sit up straight with your feet on the floor. Leaning back can make you seem uninterested, while sitting on the edge of your chair can make you seem tense.
- Keep your hands still in your lap or on the arms of your chair, except when you’re making a point. Don’t cross your arms.
- Make eye contact, and smile when it’s appropriate.
The interview is also your chance to show your positive attitude and your communication skills.
- Turn off your cell phone when you arrive at the interview and leave it off until you leave. Use a pen and paper to make notes, rather than a laptop or other device.
- Follow the interviewer’s lead. Even unusual or irrelevant questions get asked for a reason.
- Listen closely to the questions so you can answer them accurately. If you don’t understand a question, politely ask the interviewer to rephrase it. If you don’t know the answer, say so.
- Take a moment to think before you answer a question. Be pleasant, sincere and direct. Stay on topic.
- Avoid answering with only “yes” or “no.” Try to figure out what the interviewer wants to know and answer with that in mind.
- Follow up after the interview with a thank you note or email that emphasizes 2 or 3 reasons why you’re the best candidate for the job.
Using the 4 Ps will help you make a strong first impression in your next interview. Each interview that’s a positive experience moves you closer to the interview that lands you a job.
Paperwork (After you’ve passed your interview)
Your internship contract is a contract linking you, your corporate/lab supervisor and your academic supervisor. Make sure all signatories have signed the contract before you start your internship.
Your company will ask you for some personal documents to prepare your arrival. There is a large chance you will be asked to scan and send your ID and/or driver’s license, your European health insurance card if you are a European citizen, your student card, etc. If your company runs a pre-employment investigation, the HR might ask you to fill in more forms and send more documents such as your birth certificate and those of your parents, etc.
If you do your internship in a different city, it is time for you to start looking for housing in your next city of residency. You might need to fill in some change-of-address forms for your school, bank, company, internet provider, etc.