An internship is a paid, unpaid or partially paid opportunity for an individual to experience on-the-job training within a particular industry for a given period of time. Generally speaking, internships are relatively short in duration and enable an individual to gain valuable employment skills within an industry of their interest. Anybody can be an intern if they wish; although the common consensus is that university or college students and graduates usually intern, it is an experience that is available to anybody.
An internship is an excellent opportunity to gain hands-on experience in an industry of your interest. It provides the intern with the chance to learn the complete mechanics of a particular field, and ascertain whether or not this industry is of interest to them.
An internship bridges the gap between school or university and the professional world. Oftentimes students fail to realize the realities of the working world, and an internship is a fantastic opportunity to learn about the complexities of the professional world – from the office politics to coping with the long hours and difficult bosses.
Undertaking an internship is an experience that could influence the individual’s eventual career decisions significantly. This will help them to ascertain whether this industry is suited to their interests and qualifications, or if they feel uneasy about embarking on a career within this field. Above all, it is an excellent opportunity to gain a thorough understanding of a particular industry.
This experience will also enhance your self-confidence and inspire you to become successful, particularly if you are set up with a motivating and encouraging mentor who is able to teach you many things.
It is also an excellent opportunity to obtain professional references before embarking on your career. This means that upon completion of your education, you will not be restricted to resorting solely to educational references.
An internship also gives a valuable addition to any CV. This will increase the candidate’s market value and assist them in better marketing themselves when seeking employment. Once the internship has reached completion, the individual will also have access to important connections within their selected industry, meaning that the internship was also a great networking tool. Fundamentally, they will emerge from the experience a more learned person who has gained valuable employability skills and understanding. Ultimately, the intern could be offered employment by the company they have interned for.
Some internships are detrimental to the individual’s progression in the working world. Many interns are taken advantage of and made to do pointless tasks that will not give them any additional knowledge or understanding about the industry or a certain position. Often interns flit from one department to another and are regarded as an ‘assistant’ rather than an apprentice, meaning that they learn basic, menial tasks that are of limited value. Although it is fundamental that interns are given tasks that give them a realistic insight into how the industry functions, it is also crucial that they learn the particulars of how a particular department and business operates.
It is also important that to be careful who you intern for. Some companies take advantage of interns and make then do the most menial, tedious tasks that will barely enhance their skills. Many interns come out from the experience feeling frustrated and as though they haven’t gained any valuable skills. They get trapped in one department and their exposure to the company overall is therefore limited.
Most internships aren’t that glamorous and it is extremely difficult to be offered an internship opportunity for a highly regarded and paramount company. In addition, internships can become extremely expensive to maintain, particularly if there is no funding available and they are maintained for a prolonged period of time.
In addition to the above, it is important to acknowledge that whilst the individual is carrying out the internship, they are missing out on opportunities to place a foot on the career ladder.