An internship is an opportunity for young people to apply everything they have learned at school and into the real world. While years of studying have equipped you with all the knowledge and skills you need to survive and succeed as a professional, it is very different from how your everyday life will be like when you enter the workforce. An internship is a buffer, an opportunity for young people to transition from student to productive adults who contribute to society.
Through an internship, you can gain a deeper insight into the industry that you want to enter, interact with and learn from industry leaders, and gain valuable traits that you will need to find employment.
Previous research has proven that joining an internship program can lead to better prospects of employment. In the United States, hiring managers are looking beyond school and grades. Instead, they want unique credentials, including internships.
Preparing for an Internship
An internship can provide you a score of benefits but, whether you do it or not is, most of the time, your choice. Universities do not often require students to be involved in an internship program to get their degree, but it is highly encouraged.
Students typically enter an internship during their summer break or later years of their university because it takes up a huge portion of their time. Depending on the requirement, the intern may have to spend ten or 20 hours per week, more if it is in the summer when school is out. Interns still have to go to school and attend their classes while doing their internships.
In Singapore, any student who has completed their “N” Levels is allowed to take part in a traineeship program. It pairs them with a participating company across 12 industry sectors and hands-on experience. Moreover, they are allowed to enjoy the same benefits that full-time employees received, including salary, while attending classes one or two days per week.
Not all countries are as generous. Interns in the U.S. are not required to be paid, but many companies still provide compensation, even if it is a small amount, and other benefits to their interns.
Organizations set their own requirements, but the way it works is similar to regular job applications. The student who wants to become an intern will submit a resume and a cover letter to find the right people for the work. The organization will also post about the internship opportunity in the university or on employment platforms.
Moreover, if applying for an internship, students are encouraged to seek opportunities from multiple organizations. Like regular job applications, there will be more people vying for a single position.
Excelling in Your Internship
The internship should be treated as a job. Although you are not a full-time employee, you still will fill a role in the company that will contribute to its overall growth.
You will learn, but you are also expected to work. Depending on your skills or background, you may be handed complex administrative tasks or assist departments. This is an opportunity to prove your expertise, so if you think you can handle a certain task, volunteer for it. It is a way for you to practice what you have learned in school and potentially gain employment after graduating.
But do not be a show-off. While you want to impress, you still are a student who has plenty to learn about the real world. Recognize what you can and cannot do or know and do not know.
Do not turn down a project that you think is beneath your capabilities. You can always volunteer for better tasks later on, but starting with simple tasks is still a worthy endeavor.
If you find someone who you deeply respect and admire, ask them to be your mentor. A mentor can guide you to navigate not just the company and its culture but also the industry. They can provide you with tips and insider knowledge and be someone you can ask whenever you have questions. They can also introduce you to the right people who can provide you opportunities once you enter the labor pool.
An internship will effectively prepare the students to enter the workforce, which is an entirely different world from what they are used to or came from. It will give them significant opportunities to practice everything that they have learned from school. At the same time, their new environment can teach them new knowledge or skills that they could not gain from their classes.