A part-time job may help to pay your way through uni, but it can be tough to find work which can lead to a job in your ideal field. This is where internships come in. Libby Calaby guides you through the world of internships to help you make the right choice.
What is an internship?
Internships vary depending on the company which offers them. They are usually open to people at the beginning of their careers and can lead to a job in your desired field. Internships are designed to give you a flavour of a particular type of work over a short time period.
If you take an internship you are known as an intern.
How internships work
Internships often provide some sort of training or mentoring, but you may also be expected to carry out some basic duties, and in some cases you’ll be given proper assignments.
Some employers see internships as part of their recruitment process, so if you get on well as an intern, you may be offered a full-time job. Not all internships however, lead to permanent work.
If you see a scheme which appeals to you be sure to check exactly what is being offered and what will be expected of you.
In its simplest form, an internship is:
- On-the-job learning and training
- Offered by an employer
- Usually short term (anything from 6 weeks to 6 months), but some internships last up to 12 months
- Can be offered to someone who is still in education (typically third-year university student) or a recent graduate
- Either paid or unpaid
How internships can benefit you
There are lots of reasons to consider an internship and it can be a great way of bridging the experience gap between uni and the world of work. By becoming an intern you can also:
- Make connections who could be useful when it comes to applying for your first full-time job, with your internship company or elsewhere in the industry
- Boost your CV
- Figure out whether this really is the right career path for you
- Get professional mentoring and feedback to better your chances when it comes to job hunting
What is the difference between work experience and an internship?
Work experience is unpaid and placements are often undertaken while you’re still at school. Internships often (but not always!) include some form of pay. They can be taken during your final year of university, with a view to converting that experience into a full-time job.
What should I consider before taking an internship?
Before you take an internship there are a few things you need to think about:
- What are the hours? If you are in your final year at uni then you need to know that you can fit your internship around your study commitments. Look out for internships which run during the holidays
- What are the responsibilities? You need to be confident you can handle the assignments you’re likely to get
- What is the pay like? Find out what sort of wage you might be paid and what expenses, such as travel, might be covered by your employer
- What did other interns think? Before applying, check out reviews from other interns to find out about their experience
Where to find an internship
If you’re excited about the prospect of securing your first internship, there are many options available for you.
First, visit your university career centre or university jobs – these can be a great place to start.
If you’re looking for relevant, meaningful internships in the field you want to build a career, try specialist student and graduate job boards for suitable opportunities.
If you have a more adventurous spirit, you could investigate internships placements abroad. Cultural and language skills, as well as a more worldly view, are often looked on favourably by potential employers.
You can also find internships through family and friendship connections or through external interests, such as clubs or societies.
Libby Calaby writes for Inspiring Interns, a specialist student and graduate job board. Her career spans recruitment, HR management, personal branding and marketing leadership and she’s now found her feet as a freelance writer specialising in careers advice.