Whether you are one of the many undergraduate students or even a graduate student, you may need to apply for an internship at some point to fund your college education. You most likely have a student loan to pay off, so the extra cash will come in handy. Internship programs are gradually becoming a trend among organizations of all sizes. If you have no previous experience with internships, you may wonder what it means to be an intern. Let’s take a look at what you should know.
Internships: Your First Step on the Employment Ladder
An internship is an employment or work experience program that is offered by employers temporarily. Interns are provided temporary employment for the mutual benefit of both the employer and the intern. An internship program can last for as long as a year or two, while some others can last for just a month. It is possible to take on an internship during your semester.
How does the intern benefit from an internship program? They become exposed to the hands-on experience that familiarizes them with the work environment. Through internships, students have an avenue for practical work experience. They can apply the things that they’ve learned in school to the workplace, thus learning new skills and getting to know more about that industry in the process. Your internship could be in science, media, computing, or just about anything else.
Whatever the industry, the chance to experience internships will take you a long way in life. In the case of paid internships, as a student, you can use one to meet your financial needs, such as student loan payments. Once you have secured an income, it’s a good idea to start on your credit score with one of the best student credit cards. Overall, an internship can provide many unique and valuable opportunities for students.
As an Intern, You Have Real Responsibilities
Being an intern can help you earn an income and will provide you with work experience. However, you need to give to be able to take. As an intern, nobody expects you to dive headfirst into making pivotal decisions for an organization, at least not in your first few weeks. But you will still have real responsibilities that you should strive to fulfill the best you can.
Your responsibilities will depend on the field of the company where you are interning. Generally, you may be asked to help out with the necessary day-to-day activities of the company. You may be assigned simple tasks such as drafting reports, taking memos, drafting customer emails, etc. Another thing interns often do is to help out with research. It is also not uncommon that you are asked to stay with a full-time employee and shadow them as they go about their day.
As time goes on, more and more responsibility will be dropped on your shoulders until you can work as effectively and efficiently as a full-time employee.
So an Internship Is a Job That Pays Me Money?
There is no guarantee that an internship will provide you with paid work. There are a few different types of internships for you to consider:
Not all companies can afford to pay their interns, but many of the large companies can and will. It is a popular trend among employers in big organizations to pay their interns.
However, paid internships always attract a lot of potential interns. Such a position is challenging to secure, and you will need to stand out among your competitors.
Unpaid internships share similar characteristics to non-profit organizations. Here, interns don’t usually get paid, but the organizations have other ways of rewarding them.
Undergraduates can take up internships as part of their school curriculum. People who are at a different stage in their further education, like graduates, can take up volunteer internships as extracurricular activities.
In credit internships, schools assign credit to college students after they have completed their internships. However, the internship must be strictly academic-related. Payment is in college credits, though it is not unheard of to earn some cash on the side. Extra cash could be significant if you or your parents failed to save for your college. Even if you can pay off your student fees, extra money never hurts.
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Summer and Fall Internships
As the name implies, summer internships take place during the summer break, and fall internships run during the fall semester. Summer and fall internship programs can be credit internships or just a chance to earn some money or experience. You can use your summer break at the end of an academic year to seek international internships, provided you have your school’s permission. Some schools allow it while others don’t. Schools that let you do an international internship often do so based on your ability to earn academic credits.
What’s in it for Me?
Some benefits were briefly covered above, but let’s talk about what’s in it for you. When you intern, you can gain a variety of perks
Gain Some Much-Needed Work Experience
The hands-on experience you receive will provide opportunities for you to gain new skills and become more knowledgeable in your chosen field. As well as industry-related skills, you will learn new soft skills, such as the right communication, proper work etiquette, marketing, and more. You can even put your new-found skills to work and earn a side income.
Give Yourself That Extra Push in Job Markets
With the work experience you have gained, you can stand out among many other fresh graduates who never interned. The experience puts you a step ahead of other candidates and makes you more marketable to potential employers.
Be Better Equipped to Make a Career Decision
Once you have had a taste of the industry you are interning in, you can get an idea of what your future might look like. The first-hand experience can help you decide on whether to continue down that career path or not. If your time interning wasn’t as rewarding as you had imagined, you still have a chance to switch career paths.
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Meet Professionals Who Are Already in the Field
Aside from creating an avenue for professional development, internships also make it possible to meet with professionals in the field. Many times, these experts can be a guide on how and where to get a master’s degree.
How Do I Secure an Internship?
Here comes the part where you have to do some work. Securing an internship may be a straightforward task, but it requires dedication. These are the steps you need to follow when trying to get an internship placement.
Identify Areas of Interest
Identifying areas of interest starts by first identifying the skills that you have. What do you know how to do? Where would you be able to put your skills to best use? What are your interests? Once you know the answer to these questions, look for companies that meet your requirements. If you are a student looking for temporary work in an industry relating to your course of study, you will find your search a bit easier.
If you are struggling, you can go to the career center at your school. They will assist with your internship application. You can also make use of career resources to make your job search easier.
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Try to Identify as Many Companies as You Can
Find out more about the companies you choose. You can make use of an internship site to aid in your decision-making process.
After you have identified the companies that can offer what you want, go through the websites of your chosen companies and check out the details of their internship programs. There are a lot of other websites that help you gather information on companies. You can check them out too. While researching the actual companies, it won’t hurt to get an idea of your expected responsibilities.
Do not dismiss any internship positions by how they are named. Try to do some additional research if you don’t know what a post entails. Meet people who have had some interaction with your chosen companies. Ask for input from your family members and teachers.
After you have done the above, you can begin to eliminate some companies that have conditions that don’t sit well with you. You can also remove companies that only offer unpaid internships if you’re specifically looking for a paid internship. One note of warning though: don’t be too picky.
Prepare Your Credentials
Update your resume. Your current resume must hold updated information, with your previous work experience being a focus.
Here’s a quick tip on how to write your resume: do not be modest, but also do not exaggerate. Mention your skills, achievements, and experience without adding or removing any details. Honesty is crucial, as you would not want to put yourself on a pedestal. Otherwise, you will find yourself trying to keep up with the version of yourself in your resume. However, you also don’t want to undersell yourself because this might lead to losing some internship opportunities. You must learn to strike the right balance during your application. Include past and present projects in your resume to let your potential employer know what you’re currently doing.
Finally, make sure that you create a captivating cover letter. The first impression is vital.
Apply to as Many Companies as You Can
You are not the only applicant to a single intern position. There are possibly over a thousand people who are applying to the same company as you. Applying to several companies widens your chances of being offered an internship placement. And because the internship application isn’t as tricky as it once seemed, you should be able to apply to plenty of companies easily.
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Securing Full-Time Jobs From Internships Opportunities
After going through the process just mentioned, you may be asking yourself if you can obtain a full-time job through an internship, especially if you enjoy the working conditions of your place of internship.
The short answer is yes, you can. If your employers consider you to be useful and indispensable, they can offer you a job. Even if you still have to go back to school, some employers allow you to work with them part-time until you have finished school before employing you fully. In some cases, the employer can reserve a position for you to fill when finished with your education.
However, you have to prove your worth before a company would be willing to employ you full time.
Tips for Securing a Full-Time Job From Internships
When you work in a company as an intern, it is easier for you to get employed in that company than it would be for a fresh job applicant. Here’s why: your supervisors already know you and what you are capable of doing. If they find you to be productive and efficient, it becomes easy for them to retain you.
If this is your plan, these tips will help you along the way.
Leave an Impression
Make all impressions count, not just the first impression. Always present the best version of yourself at all times. In short, sell your personality.
Prove Your Worth
Attack every duty with ruthless effectiveness. Do anything you are asked to do with maximum efficiency. Your boss won’t entrust big jobs to you if they find you incapable of handling the small ones. Be enthusiastic about your duties, demonstrate you have organization skills, and always try to beat the deadlines given to you.
Be the Solution
Be a problem-solver. Look for possible improvements you can make. Draw up a plan on how you could solve the issue and show it to your superiors. Even if they don’t do anything about it, they will see you as a problem-solver. During the internship, you must be ready to put everything you are taught to use.
Be Ready and Willing
Show your readiness to learn. Doing so will leave a positive impression. If you show your supervisor that you are ready to learn new skills and quickly adapt to unfamiliar situations, this usually scores you extra points with them.
Make your employers aware that you would like to continue working with them. Do not make the mistake of assuming that they already know. Make sure your supervisor knows that you would like to continue to work with them and retain your internship position. You should also go to the human resources department to make your intentions known.
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Onward & Upward
What you can gain from an internship is not fully evident until you experience one. However, this article hopefully gave you some insight into how an intern program works as well as what you should do to prepare in advance. An internship could be one of the ways to learn from the best and help you achieve your desired career goals.
Have you had any internship experiences you would like to share? Do you have some helpful tips for undergraduate and graduate students that you want to point out? Please feel free to drop them in the comments section below.