The Essential Benefits of Internships
What is an internship? Simply put, it is an opportunity that employers offer to students interested in gaining work experience in particular industries. With this primer, learn more about what internships are and why students benefit from them.
How Long Internships Last
An intern works at a company for a fixed period of time, usually three to six months. Some students will have a part-time internship in which they work at the office for just a few days or hours per week. Others will have full-time internships, meaning they work the same hours as the company's full-time employees. Internships can be any time of the year, including over the summer and during the regular quarter, trimester or semester.
Why Internships Are Important
Internships offer students a hands-on opportunity to work in their desired field. They learn how their course of study applies to the real world and build a valuable experience that makes them stronger candidates for jobs after graduation.
An internship can be an excellent way to "try out" a certain career. For instance, you may think you want a fast-paced job in advertising after college, but after an internship, you may find that it's not for you; that's valuable insight that will help you choose your career path.
In some colleges, internships also count towards course credit. This is dependent on your individual school's requirements, but usually, a three-month-long internship counts as a full course credit.
Who Can Be an Intern
Interns are usually college or graduate students. While interns are usually older students, like juniors or seniors, freshman and sophomores can seek out internships as well. Having several internships while in college can be very impressive to potential employers.
What Interns Do
The daily tasks of an intern can vary widely, even within the same industry. It is largely dependent on the company itself. In some internships, you may do mainly administrative tasks or run errands. But in others, you will be an important part of the team, making substantial contributions to the company.
Unpaid internships are common, but there are plenty of paid internships too. Whether or not you will get a wage depends on your industry and role. For instance, editorial interns are rarely paid, while engineering students almost always are.
If you can afford it, an unpaid internship can still be an extremely beneficial experience. You can get serious work experience, build a portfolio and establish a network of professional contacts which can help you after you graduate.
Some companies do extend full-time job offers to exceptional interns, though this is not guaranteed and is the exception rather than the norm. To better your chances of this happening, be proactive in your work, pay attention to detail, be willing to listen and take criticism and volunteer for special projects.
Positioning yourself as a hardworking, reliable worker puts you in good standing for consideration. If the company is not hiring at the time your internship ends, do not be disappointed or think it's a reflection of your work. It's often simply a budgeting issue. You can still probably count on them for a glowing reference, which you can leverage when applying for jobs later.