Advice & Hacks
Internships – Everything you need to know
In a graduate job market more competitive than ever before, internships are a great way to boost your chances of employability.
What is an internship?
Internships are opportunities offered by employers, to potential employers, known as interns, to gain some experience working at a company, for a fixed period of time. The majority of internships last between 1-3 months, with interns usually being undergraduates.
The modern concept of an internship has evolved from a medieval apprenticeship, where a skilled worker would teach a young person their trade; in return, the apprentice would agree to work for their teacher for a fixed period of time.
What is the difference between an Internship and Apprenticeship?
Although they both involve some form of training, there are several differences between internships and apprenticeships.
An internship is usually a general admission into a company where the work the intern will be doing isn’t as focused – due to the short length of time of the internship. Also, interns are not bound to work for the employer following the competition of their internship. On the other hand, apprenticeships are longer, more-focused programs designed to train the apprentice on a specific job role, with the apprentice then transforming into a full-time regular employee at the firm following the competition of his apprenticeship.
How do I find an internship?
When you’ve decided to pursue an internship, the first step is to figure out how this internship is going to empower you towards achieving your future goals. For example, if you’re a first year at uni, you might want to explore a variety of internships to help you determine the industry you’d like to work in. Meanwhile, if you’re in your final year of uni, your career path might already be clear – you have specific goals for internships, and the sole aim is to gain valuable work experience and discover employment opportunities after graduation.
If you don’t have a great deal of work experience under your belt, finding a job can be a challenge. These are some of the benefits an internship can offer:
#1 Valuable work experience
Classroom knowledge is useful, but hands-on work experience is invaluable. Experiencing the day-to-day job duties, firsthand, and gaining exposure to the dynamics of working life, will set you up for your career post-uni. In addition, you’ll gain plenty of transferable, professional soft skills such as teamwork, communication, punctuality and time management.
#2 Helps you explore a career path
One of the biggest benefits of university is the space you have to explore. An internship will take your exploring to the next level by allowing you to delve deeper into fields that you could be interested in. Many of us go into university with no clue of what career path we’d like to take, and internship might give us good perspective. Most students who intern feel more confident about their academic subjects or career prospects after experiencing an internship.
#3 Stand out from the crowd
Successfully completing an internship makes you more attractive to employers. In fact, many firms prefer to hire students who have completed internship programs – as they are more likely to have more refined soft skills, better work habits and better technical skills since they have received some form of job training and professional guidance.
#4 Financial compensation
There are many paid internships up for grabs. For students, that means you can gain valuable work experience, and fund your university expenses.
#5 Network network network
In the working world, it’s not just about what you know. Its also about who you know. An internship will provide you with many opportunities to meet and work with professionals who can help you achieve your career aspirations somewhere down the line, one way or another.