Internships are becoming popular for a very good reason. They offer students a chance to get hands-on experience within a certain industry or even across multiple industries. You can learn new skills, boost your CV, network and even secure a great job after your internship.
However, navigating the process can be overwhelming and confusing for first-timers. This simple guide outlines the top 10 things you need to know about internships.
Internships and career advancement 101
An internship can be described as a ‘temporary’ work experience. It’s often offered to students or recent graduates. This helps them gain practical experience in a particular field — or even several fields. They can range from a few weeks to several months and can be paid or unpaid.
Internships are essential in today’s job market. They give people the chance to get real-world experience and build key skills. These skills are highly sought after by employers. They also offer a chance to network with professionals in the industry and potentially secure a job after graduation. This has led to several emerging trends over the past couple of years.
Internships are versatile, which makes them great options for those who are unsure about what they want their career to be. If you don’t know what you’d like to do for the rest of your life, try a few two-week internships until you are certain.
The thing about internships is that having multiple on your CV (or resume) — especially when you’re young — doesn’t detract from your accomplishments. Internships are meant to be temporary. Taking on multiple before applying to a proper job wouldn’t reflect poorly on you.
Taking on multiple before settling on a job is becoming a trend for this reason. Here are a few more trends to take note of.
Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic, remote internships have become increasingly popular. This is because it allows individuals to work from home or anywhere with an internet connection, providing flexibility and convenience.
It provides more flexibility and convenience, and can also open up opportunities with companies located outside of the individual’s region. You could live in Iceland and get an internship with a firm in the UK, or live in India and get one in Sweden!
Many organisations are offering international internships these days. With diversity and inclusion becoming more prominent, companies are actively looking to recruit individuals from diverse backgrounds too.
This is a great opportunity to gain experience in a different culture — it facilitates cultural exchange. It’s also a potential chance to learn a new language. This can be a valuable experience for those seeking to work in a globalised job market.
Believe it or not, some organisations are experimenting with virtual reality internships, allowing individuals to gain experience in a simulated environment.
How we work has evolved and changed over the years. We have adapted to new technologies, shifts in the job market, and the needs of both employees and employers. This is a sign of our progress.
This can be especially useful in fields where hands-on experience is hard to get. It can also be helpful in areas that have safety risks, like healthcare.
Internships have recently become even more focused on developing specific skills and competencies rather than just providing general work experience. This can involve structured training programs, mentorship, and opportunities for networking and professional development.
In the past, unpaid internships were widely popular. Today, the popularity of paid internships is increasing because more employers understand the importance of compensating interns for their work. This attracts a wider range of candidates and guarantees that interns can cover their expenses while gaining valuable work experience.
These trends reflect the changing nature of work, the job market, and the needs of students and graduates. As internships continue to evolve and adapt, they will remain an important part of the career development process for many individuals.
9 things you need to know
1. Where to begin
Finding an internship can be challenging, but there are several resources available at your disposal. Check with your school’s career centre, search online job boards, and network with professionals in your field of interest. You can look for internships both locally and abroad, so don’t hold yourself back.
Applying to startups might benefit you even more if you’re looking for more one-on-one mentoring. Startups are constantly changing but as they are smaller, there is a higher chance for you to do hands-on work and learn more.
2. How to apply
When applying for an internship, it’s important to tailor your CV to the specific position and company. Customise your resume and cover letter, and be sure to highlight any relevant experience or skills. Here is a template for the perfect internship resume.
Set up and customise your LinkedIn account. It may seem dull and unhelpful, but you will require a well-made and updated LinkedIn account to boost your career advancement.
Preparing for an internship interview is similar to preparing for a job interview.
Research the company, practice answering common interview questions, and dress professionally.
We have tons of useful pieces for every step of the interview process, including how the STAR method can help you ace your interview. You can start here.
4. Setting goals
Before starting your internship, it’s important to set goals. Identify what you hope to achieve during your internship, such as gaining experience in a specific area or making professional connections.
You can conduct a SWOT analysis and even some self-reflection to help determine your goals.
5. Taking initiative
During your internship, take initiative and seek out opportunities to learn and contribute.
Be proactive but don’t forget to demonstrate a strong work ethic. Don’t hesitate to take on additional responsibilities when you’re certain you can handle them.
After completing any assigned work, seek feedback on your performance. Take note of the feedback and take action to remedy any issues.
6. Focus on skills
Internships provide an opportunity to develop key skills that are highly valued by employers. Be sure to take advantage of any training or development opportunities provided by the company.
Be sure to work on your soft skills as well. These are non-technical skills that build on your inherent qualities — but they can be taught. Some examples include time management, empathy, creativity, and communication.
Maintaining professionalism is essential during an internship. Be punctual, dress according to code, and communicate effectively with colleagues. But professionalism is a lot more than that.
Respect the company’s policies and procedures. This includes confidentiality agreements. When you make a mistake, own up to it, apologise and show a willingness to learn and improve.
8. Don’t burn bridges
Networking is a key component of any internship. Attend company events, connect with professionals on LinkedIn, and seek out mentorship opportunities.
Make the most out of your internship by making connections with professionals in your field of interest. This can lead to potential job opportunities and valuable industry connections.
9. Keep improving
Seeking feedback is an important part of the internship experience. Ask your supervisor for regular feedback on your performance and use it to improve your skills and work.
Take advantage of other resources your internship may offer, such as training sessions or professional development programs. These are excellent ways to enhance your skill set and build your resume.
Internships provide a valuable opportunity to gain practical experience and develop key skills that are highly valued by employers. Remember to stay proactive, take initiative, and maintain professionalism throughout your internship.
Additionally, be sure to network with colleagues and other professionals in your field. Building relationships and making connections is a great way to learn more about the industry. This will help you stand out in the job market.
Finally, be sure to document your experience in the form of a portfolio or blog to showcase your accomplishments. This is an invaluable asset when applying for future jobs.
Follow these steps to increase your chances of securing a job after graduation. You can also read more about the role of an intern to prepare better beforehand.