How to get internships and graduate jobs


Bustling streets of Shibuya
Bustling streets of Shibuya by myself

Breaking down the door

For alot of us (including myself) job opportunities are difficult to come by, with ones discovered through connections, friends and/or return offers being particularly nonexistent. For us, we have to walk the journey of finding a job.

This guide is the culmination of what I have attained while undertaking my journey. It is a place that you can refer to when you are undergoing your search and can hopefully provide you with some insight as you progress.

Before digging in, here are a couple of things you probably need as context:

  • When I say quality vs quantity, I refer to the quality of delivery/opportunity vs how many total opportunities.
  • Some sources (AU) that you can refer to alongside this are Reddit, AU Whirlpool and GradAustralia.
  • For people who don't know of the general things that recruiters are looking for, you can check out this guide by Salesforce (trailhead) and pick the career path that you are interested in.
  • This guide mostly applies to people hunting everywhere around the world even though it has been compiled in the context of someone In Australia. It also tries to address all types of jobs though my own experience has mainly been around software dev.

Now with that out of the way, let’s get started.

Picking your poison

Before actually beginning your application, do your research and identify individual places and types of work that you want to focus on. The market is huge, and so are the types of opportunities available to you on the market. Generally, speaking when talking about graduate jobs, you have a few different kinds;

  • Graduate programs
  • Graduate specific positions
  • Entry-level positions (non-graduate specific)

And more. This idea also extends to internships where you will have specific types of internships where they could be vacationer/summer positions, undergraduate roles and internships. Within each of these categories, there most likely are different departments, technologies and/or projects that you'll both be working on and assigned to.

The general idea of picking your poison is to identify your niche within this massive market (albeit one that can increase your own chances of success) and focus on it. This does two main things;

  1. Ensures your dedication towards the process and thus increases the passion that you can demonstrate to employers (passion is always a good thing)
  2. Ensures that you are not deviating from what you're good at. People and companies excel at one utility/ niche and diversify from there, and so should you. Google had PageRank and then made a search engine, Facebook had its friends system and made a social media platform and similarly, you must find and focus on that thing you're good at.

The application and your resume

This is perhaps the quickest (but most tedious) part of the entire process. You most likely in this stage are presented as a form that you fill out and attach your resume (and cover letter) to. A major (and unfortunate) thing to consider within this phase is ATS (applicant tracking systems), a fancy way of saying 'automated resume screening'.

In fact, according to Jobscan, over 98% of the Fortune 500 use ATS so you've got to make sure you're doing this right.

Here are a couple of things you should consider in this phase.

Ensure that your resume is scrapable and easy to read by automated means

Resumes sometimes are scanned for keywords/phrases that correlate with the company’s vision. This also extends onto the layout of the resume itself. Try copying your entire resume (control + a) and pasting it into a windows notepad (or doc). Does it look legible? Does it make sense? Did the extra stuff you added with Canva translate well to a notepad?

To help with this part of the process, I would recommend you use an established resume template like this one to avoid issues with formatting.

Make sure you do NOT have any spelling mistakes on your resume and/or application

This will drastically affect your chances especially since the recruiter is looking at a lot of applications all of the time and chances are, others have corrected their spelling mistakes.

File names are also important

No bad resume file names like “GENERIC RESUME TEMPLATE.PDF” but rather “FIRSTNAME LASTNAME RESUME.pdf”. This extends onto your cover letter as well. A good cover letter will go a long way and not having one will put you at a disadvantage. Some places won’t even progress your application if you do not have one in your application!

Some places also provide online testing

That’s up to you to perform and I have no particular tips for this other than try to find examples for yourself and practise them.

Altogether, this step is the quickest out of all of the total steps and only requires you to be careful in your work as well as that you "tick all the boxes".

Apply to a number of places proportional to how determined you are to find any job.

A good attitude coming to this, and the next section is that quantity matters most, not quality. I've seen people applying to over 700 jobs resulting in 1 offer so keep those numbers up if you want that job badly!

"Approximately three per cent of the total applications (across all industries) result in a candidate being offered a graduate position." - Source (GradAustralia)

Using the above source, you have to apply to at least 76 (75 if you're rounding) applications to have a 90% chance of landing at least one offer.

This means that having a good resume will not guarantee that you will get to the next round in larger companies, so make sure you are sending applications to many companies to increase your chances of passing into the next round by simple chance.

The first screening (virtual and phone interviews)

Logitech webcam clipped on top of monitor screen
Photo by Ernest Ojeh

Dreaded. This section is tough to provide support for. A lot of people falter at this stage as hiring managers and the like are looking for ‘good fits’ within their company. That is the main reason why you should be relying on quantity and not quality at this stage but by no means take this part lightly. Often, this section is conducted as a virtual interview (prompted questions that you answer by yourself) but can also be done via a phone screening or even a technical case study/task (though I haven't focused on this part).

My advice for this screening for virtual and phone interviews can be separated into two different sections. The preparation and the delivery.


Ensure that you are well-rehearsed in the values of the company you are applying to.

THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. You must be a great reflection of what the company values so include the ideas in your responses. This can even extend into even straight-up saying some extracts of the company's values! You can find a lot of this information on the company’s website or through talking to recruiters and/or videos of recruiters talking about the company.

Use the STAR or CAR method

This is pretty self-explanatory but alot of individuals even try to write their answers beforehand. DO NOT DO THIS. This will end up making you sound robotic and not a great fit in the company. Remember that this is the company’s first look into your personality, so show it!

Ensure you are well-rehearsed in the job’s spec

This is pivotal as it allows you to synthesise answers that are more specific and are as a result better. This will also help reinforce the passion that you want to convey to the person on the other end so don't skip on this.


Act how you would if you worked there

If it’s a suit and tie place, then wear one to the virtual interview. If it's a retail service interview, act like you love customers (be nice, approachable, etc...). This is an extension to being able to display the values that the company so try to act to their best standard as you are trying to make the interviewer remember you and approve of your progression into the next stage.

Have a good setup

Seriously, just have one even if you don't do many virtual interviews. I bought a Logitech Brio for personal use, work and for the applications that I was doing. It’s worth it just to have a solid webcam overall. The higher quality you can afford, the better.

The same thing ideas apply to your microphone and lighting. Be well lit for interviews, close your curtains (it causes glare) and turn on extra lights if necessary.

Be confident and relatable

while you deliver STAR or CAR responses. They want to see who you are and if you are a good fit for the company. Don’t take yourself too seriously and if you mess up, then just go with the flow.

Overall, this is a game of chance. There are hundreds, if not thousands gunning for spots at large companies so make sure you improve your chances by making sure everything is in order. Sell yourself, who you are and why you want to work for the company you are applying for.

The Assessment Phase (Centre & Technical Interviews)

Group of people working together at a table
Photo by Annie Spratt

Once you’ve made it here, you are in serious contention for a graduate job, but at the same time, under the largest amount of stress. To put it simply, this is your shot to ensure you’re in and you should be taking it as such. That means that in this stage quality matters above all. Quality of delivery and quality of response. No blanket answers, just business. For this, I'll address tips for assessment centres since they can be applied to most circumstances.

Most assessment centres comprise of two stages/types of assessment

  1. A group activity (often a case study)
  2. Face to face interview (with a senior member of the team)/Technical Interviews

Group Activity

Act as you would if you worked there

Come in positive and dress as if you did work there. Be comfortable and easy to approach yet professional. This tip is kind of implied but some people forget this and start faltering in their professional approaches (don't swear!). This also can change based on the context of the company/team. If the team you are applying for is known to be chill, then dress chill but always keep that professional barrier up.

Do not prepare an introduction on paper!

You should be coming into the room happy and straight-up introducing yourself and not reading off of a document or paper. It doesn’t have to be all about the company, but about yourself too! What you like, what you don’t like and some achievements you may be proud of. Smile! It is an opportunity, not a scrutinisation of you as a person.

Be prepared to take on any task

Most activities will involve a group case study so ensure you have a notebook on hand to make detailed evaluations and ensure that you are rehearsed in some technical stuff that may come up in the field that you are applying to, though, unless you are applying to positions that specify technical requirements, I doubt you will need to know that much technical stuff.

Also, unless you are an uber good multitasker, do not volunteer to write notes, and even more importantly, do not actively show your weaknesses too much. This is important as it shifts your mentality from defending yourself, to actively asserting yourself.

Deliver and execute for the team, not for yourself!

This means that you should be doing everything you can to ensure the result of the group activity is of high quality and not just make yourself stand out. Sure, you can take the lead etc, but do not actively hamper the group by doing so. Ensure you can get everyone to speak and contribute. Even so much as to call on people to discuss the topic. Remember, they are looking to see how you work in a TEAM and not for people that just dominate the entire activity.

In saying that though, there is usually a presentation of some sort at the end so be aware of that too.

Bring forward meaningful contributions and not just be agreeable

Disagreements are not all bad too. Companies are also usually looking for people that can provide different perspectives so feel free to make ones that are valid arguments that you can back up with evidence.

Face to face and Technical Interviews

A lot of the tips that I brought from the virtual interview come into play in this situation too, minus the parts about group work.

Prepare your elevator pitch to perfection

This is so underrated. Being able to automatically deliver an elevator pitch when prompted has saved my backside more than once (not just in interviews). It allows you to make that initial impact and allow people to remember you for some distinct qualities that you display in this pitch.

Ensure that your elevator pitch is of high quality and you can deliver one without having to be nervous and/or have to read one off a piece of paper.


Interviewers are not there for a roasting session (if they are that's usually a red flag). Relax and be yourself. The group activity has most likely calmed you down at this point but if you are still nervous, take a sip of water, or do whatever it takes to calm down and be yourself. At this stage, you most likely have settled yourself down during previous exercises hopefully making doing this a bit easier (though sometimes you don't have the opportunity to).

You need to do this to show your true self and ultimately prove that you are nice to work with for 12 hours straight.

Anticipate anything

Be prepared to talk about your hobbies as much as you would about some technical projects you may have undertaken. Feel how the vibe of the interview is going to move forward. Is it your chill uncle, or your strict parent? Act and anticipate accordingly.

Ask questions insightfully

Have some really good questions lined up for the end of the interview. I’m talking about deep ones, not ones like "What sets this company apart from others?" but insightful and UNIQUE ones (for that specific company) that can demonstrate positive qualities that the company will be looking for like:

  1. “What are some things that [company name] provides that can help individuals to expand their skillsets?
    -Demonstrates initiative-
  2. “What does it take for someone to be successful at [company name]?
  3. "What were some challenges that you had to go through while your applications division created [unique product from division]?"
    -Genuine interest and curiosity-

Another good tip to get people talking is to ask targeted questions based on the interviewer's background. Say if you are interviewing someone with a noticeable American accent (different to your own), you can ask ;

"I notice you have an American accent, so I can assume that you've worked somewhere in the States. How is the work environment there different compared to [insert home country here]"

This way, you can get the ball rolling alot quicker. This also works for job backgrounds so you can look up someone's LinkedIn beforehand and ask questions referring to that but don't make it obvious. Insinuate but never directly correlate unless you want to come off as creepy, or you are confident enough in yourself that you won't come off as such.

Technical interviews are important too

Sharpen up on whatever your job entails technically. Also, be aware of what is happening in your industry, in the news (read up on google news for 2 days before a major interview). For the usual graduate job, technical interviews are carried out to decipher 2 things;

  1. Technical Ability/Understanding
  2. Communication

This means that you will not necessarily pass if you are a technical beast, but you should also be able to communicate your approach well. Technical skill is easily teachable, communication, not so much and that's why the next section is so important.

Practice makes perfect

I know that for software development, this means Leetcoding, but don't suck yourself too deeply into practising this (unless you're gunning for FAANG). Projects matter just as much too so be able to display a passion for the things that you create.

Being able to talk while coding (for devs), pitch a product properly (for marketing) or do whatever your job calls for you to do while engaging with another person is much more important in interviews. Practice doing interviews with friends or record yourself, anything if it means you'll get better at clearly communicating your thoughts while solving problems. Below is a great example of it in action.

For more info on this, check out the think-aloud protocol. Not only is it a useful skill to have for interviews, but being able to do it in any setting will help out in many situations.

That's it (at least for what I've got)!

An assessment centre/technical interview is a place for interviewers to get a feel for who you are and how to do things. Unless you are a terrible person who is horrible to work with or have completely messed up by pouring water all over your nicely pressed shirt during the interview, there is not much that can go wrong.

Companies are looking for people that can provide VALUE and above all else, are good to work with for extended amounts of time. No robots, no script readers. Also know that if you have been rejected even after showing your natural self, you most likely just weren’t a good fit in the interviewer’s mind and thus, the place might not have been a good fit for you as well.

The Final Interview and conclusions

Plane window facing sunrise
Photo by Shawnanggg

Some of the companies stop at the assessment phase and hire candidates from there but others have a final interview/s with senior members of the team. At this stage, you are close to being hired and have demonstrated the qualities that they are looking for but are doing this to check one last thing:

your vibes.

I’ve heard of some final interviews being all about games, and others about something in the news so this phase of the hiring process can drastically vary depending on the level of competition, field and even the interviewer's mood.

Read the room and anticipate how the interview is going to pan out. If it is more formal, then so be it, but be prepared for both situations and once again be YOURSELF as well as someone that they want to work with for 12 hours a day. It is pretty unlikely for them to test you for anything technical at this stage but be prepared for that too.

For some actual stats, you can refer to PWC’s stats from 2010 for their 2011 intake below (a bit outdated but otherwise gives a solid image):

“Stage Success rate at each stage
Online testing 39%
Application form 78% (most fail on academic requirements)
1st interview 54%
Assessment day 59%
Final interview 75%
Hiring 7.3% of total applicants“
- Source (The Student Room)

Good luck, and remember, this is just my opinion and not fact. Keep it in your bank of info and refer to it to increase your chances of getting an offer, alongside other local sources.