Since 2013, over half of all college students have gone through some kind of internship before graduation. There is even a good share of people who began an internship straight after college. Despite how common it is, there is still some discussion over the importance of an internship.
In some cases, internships are required to fulfill a program’s requirements. They can also help you stand out against people competing for a certain job.
So, what is an internship and how can it help in your career advancement?
What Is an Internship?
Simply put, an internship is a position in which a student or trainee works for a company with the intent of gaining experience. It may be a requirement for certain degrees or programs. A person could also use it as an opportunity to learn more about a field they’re interested in.
There are many different types available for anyone interested, ranging from short stints with a company to year-long programs.
The most recognized internship occurs in the summer. Students work a full-time job over a 10 to 12 week period.
Microinternships and part-time internships take place over a relatively short period of time. They enhance coursework and are commonly taken when students are taking classes.
Fellowships are a longer form that works to transition a student from college life to a position with a company. These are often given to graduate students to allow them to take on new research.
However, not every internship is paid. Many require participants to put in multiple hours a week without any kind of compensation.
Differences Between Internships and Other Offerings
You may wonder what separates an internship from other types of short-term employment, such as freelancing.
To begin with, the internship definition strongly links it to the college experience. While graduates may acquire internships, it’s less common. Internships can offer university credit and will require a minimum amount of working hours for credit.
Co-ops are paid positions for students that act as a precursor to full-time employment. Students will have to alternate semesters between work and academic study.
Finally, there are externships. This involves an individual shadowing staff, taking tours, and reviewing company literature.
Keep in mind that not every internship offered pays a livable wage. Some are unpaid, and it’s important to understand the legalities of unpaid internships.
Benefits of an Internship
The reality is that participating in an internship may mean missing out on summer classes, a part-time job, or relaxing during a summer off. However, it brings many benefits that you’ll be thankful for later on in life.
The first benefit of an internship is the ability to gain experience on the job. Finding an entry-level position is difficult enough, but it’s even harder when you don’t have any prior experience. An internship helps to bridge the gap between your time at college and your future job.
Since you’re an intern, they won’t give you too much responsibility when compared to their payroll employees. You’ll get a chance to observe professionals in different departments and see what kind of problems they have to deal with.
If you’re interested in the scientific field, an internship provides the opportunity to witness research first-hand. You can use the skills you’ve cultivated in college to contribute to important research. Some jobs require this real-life experience before they’ll consider hiring you, as well.
More importantly, participating in an internship can help you figure out what type of research you’re most interested in.
Most internships put you under the guidance of a trusted employee. This individual acts as your mentor while you work for the organization or company.
They can help guide you through your day and give you workplace advice. They’re the people you go to if you have any questions or concerns. Most importantly, these mentors may become that first connection that you use later on when you apply for other jobs.
On a similar note, an internship allows you to build up a professional network that you may not already have. As a college student, you’ll undoubtedly make connections with other students. However, these students won’t hold much sway in companies or organizations early on.
What’s more important is that you make a strong impression at your internship. Network, share contact information, and learn more about everyone’s role in the organization.
Many companies use internships as a way to scope out potential hires. It’s the perfect way to try out an individual in a certain position without committing to them. Hiring managers will see that you’ve interned for the company in the past and prioritize you over the competition.
At the same time, an internship allows students to decide whether they’re interested in a certain career. There’s nothing quite like hands-on experience to determine what you like and what you don’t like. It may even help you avoid applying for a position with a company that doesn’t treat its employees fairly.
Looks Good on a Resume
Finally, an internship can help round out your resume and show that you’ve had some experience on the job. Unfortunately, many companies don’t give college courses or clubs much weight. An internship looks better because it shows that an organization has given you a level of trust, and you’ve proven yourself in the field.
How to Find Internship Jobs
There are a few different ways to find an internship, depending on your current circumstances.
First of all, your college’s career services may have a listing of various internships you can apply to. They’ll also hold job fairs that will advertise positions at companies.
If you’re no longer in college, your best bet will be to search for internships online. Most internships are posted on job boards alongside other paid positions. All you need to do is use the filters to find something you’re qualified for.
And lastly, reach out to your network. Ask your professors and peers if there are any current internships you may be interested in. Some companies will also post about open positions on their social media pages.
Get Experience on the Job
What is an internship for a company, though? It’s an opportunity to try out new employees and provide the experience they’ll need to excel in your industry. It also serves as a pipeline that can bring in new talent.
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