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Positioning for internships as a Nigerian student

Industries which are commonly open to receiving internship applications from students and recent graduates include management and consulting, oil and gas, media and communications, financial services, marketing and advertising, engineering and technology, education, healthcare, hospitality, law and information technology, among others.
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An internship is a structured learning experience that provides students and recent graduates with the opportunity to gain practical work experience in a professional setting. It allows them to apply their academic knowledge and develop new skills relevant to their chosen field. Internships typically last for a defined period, ranging from a few weeks to a year.

Internship opportunities in Nigeria are growing steadily. More organisations across various sectors, including government, NGOs and private companies, are increasingly recognizing the value of internships in developing future talent. Industries which are commonly open to receiving internship applications from students and recent graduates include management and consulting, oil and gas, media and communications, financial services, marketing and advertising, engineering and technology, education, healthcare, hospitality, law and information technology, among others.

There’s a wider range of internship opportunities available now compared to the past, catering to diverse fields and skill sets. However, competition for internships can be high, so it is important to be proactive in your search and highlight your qualifications effectively because of the current state of the job market in Nigeria. “About three-quarters of working-age Nigerians were employed – 73.6% in Q4 2022 and 76.7% in Q1 2023,” per Nigeria Labour Force Survey. However, underemployment is still a huge challenge in Nigeria as many people are willing to accept more job offers in addition to the one they occupy. As a result, the Nigerian job market is a complex picture. While the economy is growing, youth unemployment remains a significant challenge. There is also a mismatch between the skills employers seek and the skills available in the workforce. This highlights the importance of internships in bridging this gap.

Internships play a crucial role in career development for several reasons:

Skills Development

Internships offer hands-on experience, allowing you to hone practical skills that complement theoretical knowledge learned in school. This practical exposure helps you understand how to apply your skills in a real-world work environment.


Internships provide valuable networking opportunities. You’ll interact with professionals in your field, build relationships, and gain insights into different career paths. These connections can be instrumental in securing future job opportunities.

Competitive Advantage

In Nigeria’s competitive job market, internship experience can give you a significant edge. Employers value candidates with practical experience and the ability to adapt to a professional setting.

Career Exploration

Internships allow you to explore different career options within your field. This firsthand experience can help you refine your career goals and choose a path that aligns with your interests and skills.

Identifying your goals and interests

Before beginning your internship search, take some time for self-reflection through the following:

  • Skills Assessment: Identify your existing skills and areas you’d like to develop. Consider both technical skills (e.g., software proficiency) and soft skills (e.g., communication, teamwork).
  • Interest Exploration: Reflect on your academic interests and what excites you professionally. What kind of problems do you find intriguing? What kind of work environment would you thrive in?
  • Career Goal Setting: Do you have a specific career path in mind? Even if you’re unsure, having a general direction can help guide your internship search.

Researching potential internship fields and industries

Research plays a crucial role in identifying suitable internship opportunities.

  • Industry Research: Explore different industries in Nigeria and their current trends. Understand the types of roles and skills demanded within those sectors. Resources like industry reports and professional association websites can be helpful.
  • Company Research: Once you’ve identified potential industries, research specific companies offering internships. Look for companies whose mission and values align with your own.

Setting clear objectives for the internship experience

Internships are more rewarding when you have clear goals in mind. Here are some questions to consider:

  • What specific skills do you want to develop during the internship?
  • What type of projects or work experience are you hoping to gain?
  • How will this internship contribute to your long-term career aspirations?

Building a strong resume and cover letter

A strong resume and cover letter are essential tools to make a positive first impression on potential employers. Here’s how to craft them for the Nigerian job market:

Craft a tailored resume

  • Tailoring is Key: Don’t use a generic resume. Adapt it to each internship you apply for, highlighting skills and experiences relevant to the specific position.
  • Focus on Achievements: Showcase your accomplishments using quantifiable results. Use action verbs to describe your contributions in previous projects or volunteer work.
  • Keywords Matter: Integrate keywords from the job description throughout your resume. This helps your application get noticed by applicant tracking systems (ATS) used by many companies.
  • Education and Training: Clearly list your educational background, including your institution, degree and expected graduation date. Include any relevant coursework or training programmes.

Write a compelling cover letter

  • Targeted Introduction: Start with a strong introduction that grabs attention. Briefly mention how you found the internship and express your enthusiasm for the position and the company.
  • Highlight Your Value: Concisely explain why you’re a suitable candidate. Briefly showcase your relevant skills and experiences, and how they align with the internship requirements.
  • Demonstrate Motivation: Express your eagerness to learn and contribute to the organisation.
  • Call to Action: Conclude with a clear call to action. Thank the reader for their time and express your interest in an interview.

Formatting and presentation tips

  • Professional Format: Maintain a professional and clear format throughout your resume and cover letter. Use a readable font, consistent margins and bullet points for easy navigation.
  • Length: Keep your cover letter concise, ideally one page long. Your resume can be slightly longer, typically one to two pages depending on your experience level.
  • Proofread Carefully: Proofread your documents meticulously for any typos or grammatical errors. A polished presentation creates a positive impression.

Ways to securing internships

Networking is a powerful tool for securing internships in Nigeria. By building connections and establishing yourself within your field, you gain valuable insights and open doors to potential opportunities.

Leverage personal and professional networks

  • Start with Your Inner Circle: Talk to friends, family members and acquaintances who may have connections in relevant industries. Let them know you’re looking for internships and ask if they can introduce you to someone in their network.
  • Engage with Professors and Instructors: Professors and instructors can be valuable resources. Discuss your career goals and internship interests with them. They may have connections or be aware of internship opportunities within their network.
  • Reconnect with Alumni: If you’re a student, connect with alumni from your programme who are working in your desired field. They can offer insights into the industry and may be able to refer you for internship opportunities within their companies.

Attend career fairs and networking events

  • Career Fairs: Attend career fairs organised in your education institution or professional organisations. Research participating companies beforehand and prepare questions to showcase your interest and initiative.
  • Workshops and Seminars: Attend workshops and seminars related to your field. These events provide opportunities to learn new skills, network with professionals, and gain insights into potential internship opportunities.
  • Industry Networking Events: Look for industry-specific networking events. These events offer a platform to connect with professionals and learn about internship opportunities within those organisations.

Reach out to industry professionals for guidance and opportunities

  • Connect on Social Media: Connect with alumni and industry professionals on LinkedIn or other professional networking platforms. Research their profiles and send personalised messages expressing your interest in their work and seeking guidance on potential internships.
  • Informational Interviews: Request informational interviews with professionals in your desired field. These conversations provide an opportunity to learn about their career paths and gain valuable insights into the industry and potential internship opportunities.
  • Be Prepared with Questions: Come prepared with insightful questions for informational interviews. Demonstrate your genuine interest in the field and your eagerness to learn.

Where to find internship listings

Finding the right internship requires utilising various resources and platforms available in Nigeria. Several online platforms list internship opportunities across different sectors:

  • Job Boards: Popular job boards like Jobberman and Indeed often feature internship listings alongside full-time positions.
  • Company Websites: Many companies advertise internship opportunities directly on their career pages. Research companies in your desired field and explore the career sections of their websites.
  • Social Media Platforms: Social networking platforms like LinkedIn and X (formerly Twitter) can be a valuable resource. You may find it useful to use a relevant hashtag like #internship in the search tabs of these platforms, or include the specific location where you are seeking to intern.  You may also join industry groups and follow companies you’re interested in. They may post internship announcements on their social media pages.
  • Internship-Specific Platforms: Platforms like and sesewa specialise in connecting students and graduates with internship opportunities in Nigeria.

Preparing for interviews and assessments

Acing the interview is crucial to securing your desired internship. Here’s how to prepare effectively:

  • Research Common Questions: Research typical internship interview questions for your field. Prepare concise and well-structured answers that showcase your skills and experiences.
  • Practise the STAR Method: Utilise the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to structure your responses. Briefly describe a relevant situation, the task you faced, the actions you took and the positive results achieved.
  • Prepare Questions for the Interviewer: Prepare insightful questions to demonstrate your genuine interest in the internship and the company. This shows initiative and a desire to learn.

Popular assessment methods used in Nigeria

Nigerian employers might utilise various assessment methods alongside interviews:

  • Written Tests: Some companies may administer written tests to assess your knowledge, skills or aptitude in specific areas relevant to the internship.
  • Group Discussions: Group discussions can be used to evaluate your teamwork skills, communication abilities and problem-solving approach in a collaborative setting.
  • Case Studies or Presentations: You may be presented with a case study or asked to prepare a short presentation to assess your analytical skills and ability to communicate effectively.

Research the company beforehand to understand their potential assessment methods.  By preparing for various possibilities, you will be well-equipped to showcase your skills and impress the interviewer.

Making informed decisions on internship offers

If you receive multiple internship offers, carefully compare them based on factors like:

  • Company Culture and Values: Consider the company’s reputation, work environment and alignment with your values.
  • Learning Opportunities: Evaluate the types of skills and knowledge you’ll gain through each internship programme.
  • Responsibilities and Projects: Analyse the types of projects or tasks you’ll be involved in and their relevance to your career goals.
  • Compensation and Benefits: Consider any offered stipend or benefits, while prioritizing learning and development over purely financial aspects for internship roles.
  • Negotiate: In some cases, depending on the company and internship structure, you may have the opportunity to negotiate certain aspects like start date or specific project involvement. Approach negotiations professionally and respectfully.

Take your time, weigh all factors and choose the internship that aligns best with your long-term career aspirations. Inform the other companies of your decision promptly and professionally.

Evaluating the internship experience

An internship is not just about gaining experience; it is also about learning and growing. Take time to reflect on your internship to solidify your learnings and maximise their impact on your future career.

  • Journaling: It may help to maintain a journal throughout your internship to capture your daily experiences, challenges and learnings. Reflecting on these entries at the end of your internship will provide valuable insights into your growth.
  • Skill Development: Assess how your internship helped you develop your skills. Did you improve your communication, time management or technical abilities? Consider specific examples to showcase your growth.
  • Goal Achievement: Reflect on the goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the internship. Did you achieve them? If not, what adjustments do you need to make for your future career development?

Final thoughts

It may help to update your resume and LinkedIn profile to reflect your internship experience. Briefly describe the company, your role and key achievements or projects you were involved in. Use quantifiable results whenever possible to showcase the impact of your work during the internship. This strengthens your profile and demonstrates your value. You may also integrate relevant keywords and skills mentioned in the internship description throughout your resume and profile.

On a final note, use your internship experience as an opportunity to connect with colleagues and supervisors on LinkedIn so as to build your professional network for future career opportunities.

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