An internship was compulsory in my undergrad degree. The four-year business degree at my university required students to complete an 8-week internship during the summer break. As a freshman, I was eager to dive into the internship straight away and got one at a bank. The experience was eye-opening. I learned a lot of stuff relevant to my degree, and got a better idea of what to expect if I were to major in finance.
By the time I was graduating I had not one, but four internships under my belt and a clear vision for my future. The knowledge and exposure I got from my internships, in different companies and industries, have helped me make better decisions in my career.
Although internships are advertised as the ideal opportunity to gain experience and insight in your dream job, some people shy away from it. They are reluctant to spend time in a place with little to no pay, nor any guarantee of a long-term position. Monetary-wise the benefits are uncertain. But in regards to your future, the impact is significant.
Benefits of internship opportunities
Have a look at this infographic, from Inforgraphicas below, on whether or not internships are overrated. The numbers show that job-seekers with an internship experience transition quicker from college to a career, have higher job offers, and are 70% more likely to be hired as a full-time employee at a company.
Take a look at this infographic, on the right, as well based on numbers from The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), and published in the University of Miami student newspaper. Evidence shows that graduates with at least one internship under their belt were more likely to earn higher salaries, and avail full-time job offers.
The numbers alone should convince you of the significance of an internship. Internship opportunities are priceless in the value they add to your learning, skills and professional experiences. Internships expose you to all sorts of amazing opportunities. They not only teach you, but open doorways for future career opportunities.
Acquiring industry knowledge
College and school are meant to prepare you for a professional life. They do a good job and without a doubt you’ve learned plenty from professors and textbooks. But no matter how detailed they are, they don’t provide the full picture. For example, soldiers are taught strategy and techniques in military academies, and go through grueling courses to fully prepare them for the day they’ll face their enemy. But despite all the hours and effort, soldiers still find themselves in new and unexpected situations in battles unforeseen in their training.
Internships are like small battles where you get a glimpse of what to expect in the real world, to mentally prepare you for what lies ahead. You can find out what skills you lack, what your weaknesses are, and how to work on them, well before graduation with the help of your teachers. Industry knowledge cannot be fully grasped within a classroom, and the only way to get it is by working in the industry.
A major benefit of internship opportunities is networking. Interns are able to build a professional network before they graduate college. Using contacts from your internship, you can find jobs and maybe connect with them for other tasks in your professional career. An internship I did at an advertising firm has proved invaluable to me when I needed to do certain marketing tasks at my last job. Before the end of your internship, you’ll have gained 30-50 new contacts in your LinkedIn network.
Internship opportunities take you behind-the-scenes of a profession. It connects you with people currently working within the industry, and gives you a peek into what possible options you have in the future. Your internship experience gives you the knowledge and insight that enables you to make well-informed career decisions. And if you’re ever confused about a certain degree or job offer down the road, you can always send an email to one of your internship supervisors for advice.
Getting a job offer
Internship opportunities also positively affect your chances of securing a job offer. Companies typically don’t shortlist applicants with a CV that has a blank work experience section. Even if you are a fresh graduate, they want some work experience. The only way to get it, while studying for your degree, is by availing internship opportunities. Companies expect at least 2 internships before graduation.
Your contacts at internships can also be very helpful in your job search. Companies are always looking for people they can trust – people they’ve worked with. Let your professional network know that you are looking and if there are any openings in their organization, or anywhere else, to please let you know. They might know of some unadvertised opportunity and can recommend you for the job. Have a look through their networks on LinkedIn as well, for people working in companies you’re interested in, and ask them to refer you.
Where to look for internship opportunities
Internship opportunities are not always advertised which is why you have to dig for them. It is a common sight to see university students visiting organizations in the spring with their resume’s in hand. Because so many people apply for internships these days, and the amount of space is limited, you should apply well ahead of your holidays. Print a couple of copies of your CV and a cover letter for each company explaining your purpose for an internship. Don’t just leave your documents with the receptionist. First try and arrange an appointment with the manager if possible, where you can briefly introduce yourself and explain why you want to do an internship with their company.
Advertised internship opportunities are often in the same places where you’d find job openings. Below are some good places to skim through for internship opportunities.
- Job fairs
- Career services office at your college
- Personal references
- Job search websites
- Places where you family has business with, like a bank, law firm or insurance company
Article by Mishka N Orakzai