Being an intern is a lot like being on your learner driver licence: you’re getting a feel for the open road with supervision. It’d be crazy to set a 17 year old off driving based on a road rules test alone, right? So why do we hire employees based on tertiary results alone?
An internship is a temporary on-the-job training position within a company focusing on building applied knowledge. This may be a paid or unpaid position but the experience is generally focused around key learning objectives, reflection, and ‘real world’ understanding.
Essentially internships are about providing experience, which is far more valuable than theory for employers. Entry-level experience is the norm for many professions such as paramedic or teaching placements.
An internship differs from an apprenticeship in that an internship gives you change to test if this is the right career for you by placing you in the real work environment while and apprenticeship is a formal employment and usually involves a combination hands-on and classroom learning.
Internships are beneficial for both the host company and the intern. For the company, they have a passionate and usually cheap ‘trainee’ with a fresh perspective that they can easily integrate into their business at the completion of the internship if they see potential and suitability for the organisation.
For the intern, the benefits range from: realising an industry isn’t suitable for you, to the development of skills for your dream job, to a foot in the door of their chosen industry. According to Stuart Lance, the CMO of Internships.com, “You have a 7 in 10 chance of being hired by the company you interned with.”
Interns who complete an internship have a competitive advantage against other applications whose resumes are bound by the classroom. They also gain more expansive networking opportunities and a portfolio of real, copyrightable work out in their field.
Internships are becoming mandatory and elective options in more degrees so watch for opportunities. For driven job hunters, approaching companies with the offer of interning shows your enthusiasm and could land you your dream job.