An internship is often seen as “slave labour” to those sceptical people who can’t see how an internship can be the first step to a successful career. However, in today’s fruitless economic climate and high unemployment rates, an unpaid internship may be a very sensible step to take. Getting a paid job straight after university is a rare phenomenon nowadays. Only the very ambitious or lucky students manage to get them, and that’s after having the stress of juggling job hunting with preparing for their finals. For others, just getting an internship is a huge achievement – and for good reason.
Internships give graduates the safety of testing the ropes, and learning about the working world. Many students fresh out of university would not have sufficient work experience to know what it’s really like to work full-time in an office or in a paid job with a certain level of social responsibility. So an internship is a great introduction to this lifestyle, without the risk of getting fired if you mess up!
So students have had 3-4 years of knowing how to be a student, now it’s time to know how to be a working member of society and gain a successful career. Choosing the right internship can help them you with that. It is true that some internships aim to take advantage of hopeful graduates trying to make their way in the world. This is why you need to be selective. This is the opposite of ‘beggars can be choosers’, but if you want to make the most out of doing an internship you need to be smart in which company to go into. Will they take advantage of you as a dogsbody, or challenge you and make full use of your skills? It’s difficult to know what company will be the most beneficial, but their application processes are usually a good gauge to go by.
If the application process works similarly to a job vacancy, then the company most likely takes the internship seriously. So it’s likely that you’ll be given a sufficient amount of responsibility within the company.
The only thing you really shouldn’t be choosey about is whether or not your internship is paid or unpaid. Any internship that’s from a good company which does work you’re interested in is great step towards a successful career. Treat it as a bonus if it’s paid.
So let’s say you have gotten accepted into an internship – well done! Now you need to know how to turn it into a successful career.
Be open. If your supervisor asks you to do a job, do it. Be happy to muck in and do whatever job gets given to you as doing anything will rack up your skills meter. Also, if you feel like you’re being neglected and bored take the initiative and ask for more work. Always show you’re keen and willing during your internship as this will put you in good stead during your review.
This is particularly important if the internship is unpaid. This is because you will have gained skills and been challenged for no monetary reward. Demonstrate your willingness, ambition and drive and how your reward is for self-progression rather than money.
If you impress them, then there’s always the possibility of getting a job within the company. However, some companies may only offer up a job on an ad hoc basis, and so if no job opens up then you don’t have a choice but to look elsewhere. Companies do usually release the announcement of a job internally first, however, so you are still in good stead than other job applicants as you’ll be given a heads up on an upcoming job before it’s released to the public.
Nonetheless, whether or not the company you intern with can give you a career, you’ll still have gained invaluable experience which you can use for future interviews and for a successful career.