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.
An intern works at a company for a fixed period of time, usually two to three 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.
What Do 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.
Will I Be Paid?
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.
Benefits of doing an Internship
One of the recurring themes in any entry level job search is the lack of experience factor. “Where do I get experience if no one is willing to hire me?” The answer is simple: Get an internship!
Students planning to enter the permanent work force should complement their academic preparation with a range of other experiences, such as study abroad, community service, undergraduate research experiences, participation in sports and other student organizations, membership in pre-professional organizations, and internships.
An internship offers you the chance to learn by doing in a setting where you are supervised by a work-place professional, and have the opportunity to achieve your own learning goals, without the responsibilities of being a permanent employee.
An internship also offers you the opportunity to work with someone who can become a mentor for you – not only in the internship, but throughout your career.
- Learn about a career field from the inside and decide if this is the right career field for you
- Work alongside a professional in your chosen career area
- Observe the work place and see if it matches expectations
Leadership and Skill Development
- Learn new skills and add to your knowledge base while gaining confidence in your abilities
- Opportunity to practice communication and teamwork skills
- Gain industry knowledge first hand from an organization and professionals
- Provide evidence that you have initiative, are reliable, and have a sense of responsibility
- Apply some of the ideas learned in school and provide a bridge between school and the professional world
- Achieve a sense of accomplishment by contributing to an organization
Networking and Establishing Mentors and References
- Meet new people and practice networking skills while establishing a network of professional contacts, mentors, and references
- Open to door to advice for the next steps to take on your career path
- Gain valuable experience and accomplishments to add to your resume and/or enhance your application to Graduate School
- Create an advantage over other job or graduate school applicants
- Potential for a full time job offer at the end of the internship based on your performance.
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