Some graduates view these as a route to a dream job whist others see them as an employers chance to exploit students and to take on some cheap unpaid labour. Despite this negative point internships can be useful for gaining experience in industries that are difficult to break into. They give people a chance to gain some real work experience that can ultimately help them to get the job they want. Some fortunate interns can even end up getting long term paid employment within the business.
Many students take on some form of internship whilst they are studying, some get paid whilst other do not. Recent survey have shown that nearly half do not receive any wages at all. There are various reasons for this, some employers can afford to pay whilst others don’t have the funds to even help with a interns expenses. Other companies may not feel obliged to offer a wage as they believe that there will always be a long line of undergraduates who are willing to work for free. It’s a grey area that is not helped by the fact that there are no solid rules regarding wages and payment.
Apart from this it can still be a ‘win win’ situation for both parties, as the intern will get the work experience they need to beef up any future job applications, whilst the employer gets someone to do those tasks that are necessary for their business.
Depending on the placement some interns are given a lot of jobs, responsibility and trust whist others are not given much to do and may just spend their time shadowing an existing member of staff. It is therefore important that students clearly find out what will they will be doing during their internship and what will be expected of them.
The advantages of internships
Internships help to connect new or recent graduates to employers and businesses looking to recruit. Generally speaking the terms ‘internship’ and ‘placement’ usually mean the same thing. For students they are an excellent way of bridging the gap between leaving university and getting that all important first job.
Every year there are thousands of work placements available across the country. They are available in a variety of industries, government agencies, public bodies and private sector companies. It is worth noting that some are paid positions whilst others are unpaid and these schemes can last anything from a few months right up to 1 year.
The major advantage of signing up for a internship is that you get a real position within a company. This addresses one of the real challenges facing graduates and that is their lack of work experience. Helping graduates to obtain real practical work experience that can make them more employable.
Now although there is no job guarantee at the end of it, if a vacancy does come up (and you have performed well) then you will be in a excellent position to influence hiring managers and be considered for it. In quiet a few instances they can lead to full time positions being offered to interns, the logic being that employers will not want to let good people go.
Benefits to students
You get a opportunity to ‘try out’ a job role and see first-hand what it’s like.
You gain valuable work experience and learn skills that employers value.
You have a excellent opportunity to prove your skills and abilities to a potential employer. You can shown them qualities like; your enthusiasm, determination, communication skills, punctuality, work rate and efficiency.
They can boost a graduates knowledge and experience of the working world.
Graduates have a opportunity to learn transferable skills.
Have a chance to make contacts within their chosen industry.
They can give you a taste of what it’s like to work for a employer.
Benefits to employers
The benefit to employers is that they can access and find talented graduates who they can ‘try out’ in a inexpensive and practical way.
Where to find internship positions
Just like normal jobs employers advertise ‘internship vacancies’ asking for graduates to apply to them. These can be advertised on job boards, in newspapers or on the employers own website.
Tips for graduates who are on a placement
Work hard to create a good impression of your time with any company, below are some tips that you should follow;
Complete all tasks that you are given.
Be enthusiastic and friendly (but not overly).
Volunteer for duties .
Ask your work colleagues for feedback, it’s a good way of finding out if your doing something wrong.
Make contacts with your colleagues in the company (especially with decision makers). You can do this whilst you are at work but also at company social events.
Demonstrate that you are hardworking and posses an ability to work under pressure.
Relevant academic links
Introduction to graduate fasttrack schemes
Student loan company
UCAS personal statement
University interview questions
Entry level Intern resume, ideal format for student with no work experience.
Student CV links
Graduate CV template
Graduate cover letter example
Student CV template
Student CV template example