What is an internship?
An internship is a period of work experience offered by an employer to give students and/or graduates exposure to a working environment, often within a specific industry, which relates to their field of study.
The rise of internships
More and more internships are being offered by companies these days. It seems that internships offer the ideal opportunity for both employees and prospective employers to see if they work well together.
As they are increasingly the norm, those looking to get their foot in the door with experience and companies in their field of choice should take note and learn more about internships and how to secure them.
How long do internships run for?
It depends. Some last a few weeks over a university break but others can run for as long as 12 months.
The benefits of internships
• You build valuable knowledge in a real life work setting
• You get diverse exposure to different ways of working and how companies innovate
• You gain insight into the industry you are looking to make your career (it’s good to know if in actual fact that sector isn’t for you BEFORE you finish your study)
• You make new connections and contacts
• You are offered to put your studies (including theories) into practice
• Internships put you a step ahead of other graduates on your resume
• You are demonstrating your genuine desire to build new skills
The pitfalls of internships
- Some internships pay. And some don’t. You should focus on finding an internship that will build the skills you think you will need in your future career
- If the company doesn’t have a sleek organised internship process in place, you may feel a little lost at times and need to source your own work
- Many companies advertise for applications before university breaks (it depends a little on the country you live in)
- There is potential for employers to exploit internees given they are working for free
Compare your internship options and apply for the roles that look as though they will give you the best exposure to the industry sector you aspire to build a career within.
How to make the most of internships
• At the start of each day of your internship, set yourself some goals – perhaps aim to meet 3 new people, ask for feedback on a piece of work you have completed or put your hand up for something you think you can add value to proactively
• At the end of your internship, add any contacts you make to your LinkedIn account and any other relevant online platforms
• Put your hand up every day proactively – take on a diverse range of opportunities to try to get as much experience as possible
• Proactively introduce yourself to people in the company (but don’t be a leach!)
• Ask questions. You may be nominated a main contact point or work with a range of people. Make a judgement call on who is the most relevant person to ask questions
• Seek feedback on the work that you produce so you can learn how to improve
Tips on adding your internship to your resume
Here is one effective way to add an internship position to your resume. Create a section called Work Experience. Here is an example:
Digital Marketing Internship | Company XYZ | January 2019 to March 2019
• Assisted the marketing team to create a campaign for a leading FMCG brand
• Got exposure to key digital marketing tools such as HootSuite, Canva and free curated imagery libraries
• Attended weekly marketing campaign meetings with a digital marketing team of 8 people
The law around internships
There is some ambiguity in the laws that apply to internships. Laws can vary depending on the country you undertake the internship within and the characteristics of the internship amongst other factors.
Do your research before taking on an internship. Prepare questions to take with you to interview if you need any clarification of the terms of the internship.
Looking to stand out – an internship is a great way to raise your profile
Thousands of students finish courses every year at the same time. An internship is a great way to stand out from the crowd when it comes to securing super relevant work experience before you have hit the workforce.
In addition, keep in mind that sometimes those who take on internships are also then offered permanent roles with the company. This is a great motivator to have in the back of your mind when you are undertaking an internship.
Need help getting your resume or cover letter prepared for an internship application? I can help with resume and cover letter samples. Get in touch by clicking here.