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The importance of an internship: 5 critical reasons

The importance of an internship

Just having a good degree is no longer enough to secure that all-important graduate job offer in today’s world. Pertinent work experience is now just as valuable as your degree and exam results when it comes to building a successful career. As a result, internships have become an essential way to help candidates make themselves stand out. The importance of an internship has been shown in several recent surveys. According to NACE’s Class of 2019 Student Survey, “More than half of all graduating seniors who applied for a full-time job (53.2%) received at least one job offer. Within this group, 57.5% of students who had an internship and 43.7% of graduating seniors who did not have an internship received a job offer.” Not bad right? Let’s keep it going.

We will discuss everything you need to know about internships and determine why interning at a company is vital to career growth.

So, let’s get started!

The concept of an internship

You need the experience to get hands-on knowledge in your career field. In today’s labour market, employers rely heavily on resumes that demonstrate relevant work history, whether it is from actual job experience, volunteer work, or interning at a company.

An internship is an official program offered by organisations to help train and provide work experience to students and recent graduates. The concept of working as an intern began a long time ago but has drastically evolved over the years. Internships first started as a labourer who would take on young individuals and teach them their art or trade. In exchange for being taught a skill, the trainee would agree to work for the labourer for a specific time. Even then, the purpose of an internship or rather an apprenticeship was to gain new skills to be able to obtain future work.

In modern interning, an intern or trainee can work for an organisation for a specific amount of time. Interns can work for 1-12 months or longer, depending on the company and the industry. Internships are popular amongst graduate and undergraduate students who need to gain research or valuable work experience. Almost every sector and type of company, from a large multinational corporation to a small startup, now offers internships. Additionally, there has been a rise in remote/virtual internships – which is the ability to intern virtually for global companies. The vast number of internship opportunities available indicates the importance of an internship in today’s world.

How valuable is job experience?

Getting work experience is an essential aspect of starting your career as a young graduate. The earlier you start gaining experience for your CV, the better. Job experience is not just restricted to an office job with a large organisation. You can get an internship at a small company or get experience by freelancing. Any experience where you use skills that you can transfer to your future career is an excellent addition to your CV. It can help you demonstrate your commitment and capabilities to an employer while highlighting the skills that are both appropriate and transferable to the post you are applying for. An internship is one of the best ways to gain that all-important job experience.

Here are the top 5 reasons we think show the importance of an internship.

Internships provide exposure to the real world

Unfortunately, in today’s job market, passing exams with high scores and getting a degree doesn’t offer the much-needed work experience, you will need to succeed in a workspace.

By partaking in an internship, you will be able to gain real-life exposure, grow your knowledge and determine if you are in the right career field. Internships not only provide you with the first-hand experience in the real working world but also enable you to understand the career trajectory for your desired job title. You can learn how to apply the knowledge you have acquired during an internship to your future workplaces.

In addition to this, it is an excellent learning curve for young graduates and students while meeting new people and making connections in the professional world.

Internships give you a platform to establish critical networking connections

Networking is the exchange of information between individuals to form acquaintances and relationships to further their professional career. An internship is an experiential learning opportunity that offers an invaluable chance for students to network and build crucial professional connections before they even graduate.

For some students, it is a stepping-stone to bonus opportunities within the same organisation, including a full-time job. The more people you meet in the professional world with the same interest, the higher your chances to grow as a professional. You will get to know how these people work, what strategies they use to tackle a difficult situation, and how they get the job done. Different people have different skills. Meeting them and watching them work will help you understand how to work with different people and in various work environments. You can use their strategies and reinvent them for your circumstances.

Internships allow you to learn more about yourself

You may start as an intern in a specific field. But the more you explore it, the more you will discover about it. Every industry has its pros and cons. Working in a real-world environment will help you understand the depths of your field and will help you determine whether it is a career you wish to pursue in the future.

An internship will help you learn about your capabilities and ultimately encourage you to have a greater understanding of your strengths and weaknesses. It can be a challenging experience at times. Still, the benefits you gain from being pushed out of your comfort zone will help you tremendously in the future when you are presented with a difficult task or situation.

Internships equip you with more than just technical skills

When you are working as a professional for an organisation, business and technical knowledge are not the only things that the industry demands. You need people skills as well – because no matter how good you are, you won’t stand a chance of succeeding in any profession unless you develop a collaborative work ethic and learn to be a team player.

On top of that, you need to know how to work under pressure, and why deadlines matter. An internship gives you exposure to the challenges of a work environment and having experience of these situations will be useful to talk about in future interviews and show employers that you will be a good fit for their company.

Internships allow you to gain a competitive edge

Everyone knows that the job market is competitive, especially in the current climate. There may be hundreds of other candidates applying for the same role as you. As a result, you need a way to help give you a competitive edge and make yourself stand out. Internships can provide you with experience and the skills to help make employers notice you and as well as showing them that you would be a good fit for their company. It also shows that you are someone who has the drive and passion and has been motivated to acquire experience outside of just University.

What do the stats say?

There is plenty of research supporting the decisive role that interning at an organisation plays in a student’s life. According to the State of Millennial Hiring Report, US graduates who complete more than three internships are more likely to secure a full-time job.
More and more institutions are emphasising that students graduate with experience and also understanding the importance of an internship. According to the same report, 81.1% of graduates say that working as an intern has helped them significantly improve their career prospects.

In the UK, Sutton Trust’s 2018 report showed “Completing an internship was associated with higher salaries, for both middle and working-class students”. These studies all show the importance of an internship in today’s environment.

Going forward, there will be a lot more remote career opportunities opening up, and it could be a viable alternative to working from an office. It is worth considering in your career plan.

If a remote internship is not for you, don’t worry, there are still other ways you can make the most out of this time. You can perhaps learn new skills like programming or volunteer with a local charity; the worst thing you can do now is to do nothing and expect something to happen.

Final Thoughts

To sum up, internships play a crucial role in shaping one’s career. It not only helps undergraduates and graduates gain real exposure to working environments but also helps them develop the necessary skills required to stand out in a saturated job market. Now that you know the importance of an internship, it is time to find a course in your chosen industry.

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Co-founder and CEO of Capital Placement, a London based global internship programme provider, making international internships easier and more accessible for university students and recent graduates.
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