If you want to know what an internship is, its benefits and how to apply for one, then continue reading to find out.
When it comes to hiring workers today, most employers usually prefer to hire those who have prior experience of the job.
As a result, it is necessary for you as a student or graduate to deliberately take the opportunity to complete a period of work experience.
Doing this will ensure that you have a competitive advantage over your peers in job applications.
But one challenge you may face as a student or fresh graduate is where, when and how to get the experience.
This is where an internship can make all the difference.
What is an internship?
An internship is an opportunity offered by an employer to potential employees, called interns, to work at a firm (often within a specific industry, which relates to their field of study) for a fixed period of time.
It is a learning process that should give you practical skills, workplace experience and greater knowledge of that industry, in exchange for the employer benefiting from your labour.
Interns are usually students, undergraduates or fresh university graduates, and most internships can be as short as a week or as long as 12 months.
In addition, an internship can be paid or voluntary.
It all depends on your negotiation with the employer prior to the internship.
So, before you start an internship it’s important to know your rights with regards to getting paid.
The trend is increasingly (and rightly) towards the former, as voluntary internships are often cited as exploitative. As you would expect, internships that pay well are usually the most competitive
Is getting an internship necessary?
Absolutely!! Getting an internship will do you more good than you can imagine.
There are internships in a wide range of industries, including sales, marketing, engineering, graphic design, management, etc.
Throughout the period of your internship, you will develop a variety of soft skills, including communication skills, personal effectiveness, presentation skills, creative problem solving and influencing skills.
In addition, you will get ‘On-the-job’ experience which can be as valuable or even more valuable than anything learned in school.
You will agree with me that you cannot really understand what a job is all about until you have worked in that environment.
Another reason you should apply for internships is that it offers great opportunities for you to speak directly to people who have experience in the role you desire.
Their knowledge of the job and working environment will give you a greater understanding of what it’s all about and what you need to do to progress.
You may change your career aspirations when you’re faced with the true realities of a role you desire.
Therefore, internships offer a good opportunity to test the waters and confirm if the job is really what you want to do in the long term.
In conclusion, internships offer you the chance to test your skills in real-life situations, explore your career options and gain an insight into an organisation or career path.
Why Do Companies Offer Internships?
There are different reasons companies offer internship positions to students and recent graduates.
In the short term, internships provide employers with cheap (and sometimes even free) labour.
Some companies may even get interns on board only for a short period of time to execute a specific project.
Even though the time may be short, this type of project helps the intern to gain experience in project management, problem-solving and client relationship management.
Finally, you will learn transferable skills, network and build valuable connections in the industry within that short time.
In the long term, employers often use internships as an effective way of advertising their graduate schemes to students.
Surveys indicate that almost half of all graduate employers hire at least 20% of their ex-interns for training schemes.
It is likely that interns will return to the organisation where they did their internship to apply for a full-time employment.
Hiring ex-interns after they graduate is beneficial to employers because these interns already understand how the company operates.
In addition, the company will not need to spend time and resources on training since ex-interns require less training than some random job applicants.
What are the Benefits of Doing an Internship?
Now that you know the necessity of internships and why companies hire interns, now let’s find out what is in it for you.
There are many benefits of doing internships and the major benefits are as follows;
- It gives you a chance to develop your knowledge and skills in a particular field or industry
- Allows you to explore different career roles to see which one you would like to pursue
- It is an opportunity for you to apply the concepts and strategies of academic study in a real-life work environment.
- Of course, you get to network with people in your niche and get helpful contacts.
- Doing an internship is an excellent way to get insight into the way businesses work and the challenges they face on a daily basis.
- Also, you will gain valuable work experience that will set you apart
- Finally, you may earn a minimum wage while working as an intern which puts money into your pocket.
How to get an internship
Now that you know everything you need to know about internships, let’s talk about how to get an internship.
First, you already know that you need to do your internship with a company.
A good question you may want to ask is “how can I find companies that accept interns?”
To help you with that, here are two things that you can do;
1. Search for intern positions online
Google is there for every one of us.
If you are looking for a company in your industry that accepts interns, you can just google it.
You will get a plethora of results from which you can select from.
With the results you have, you can make a list and contact each of the companies to know whether there are vacancies for interns.
2. Ask someone you know
If you know someone that may be of help in your search, then you can go ahead and ask.
This person may be your mentor, friend, parents or even former lecturers.
As long as the person has a strong connection with a reputable company and can put in a word for you, you are good to go.
3. Go directly to the company
If you have a company in mind where you would like to do your internship, you can go to the company directly.
Check the target company’s website and see what kind of internship programs and opportunities it offers.
When you find one that you feel comfortable with, you can go ahead to apply for it.
Tips for applying for internships
Now that you have found a company you will like to intern with, you need to start applying to the company.
Here are some tips that will help you get a good company for an internship;
- Start your search early and apply as soon as you see an opening.
- Prepare a custom resume and cover letter for the application.
- After submitting your application, prepare for follow up interviews if any.
- Finally, if you know someone in your network who can help you, now is a good time to contact the person.
Doing internships is a good way to prepare yourself for what you will meet in the job market.
Also, you get practical experience which will make you stand out in an interview.
The aim of this article is to enlighten you about the importance of internships.
Now that you know, you should start applying for internships to enjoy all the amazing benefits it comes with.
Also, share this article with your friends so that they too can take advantage of the opportunities that internships present.