Whether you need to complete one to graduate, desire to test out working in a new field or otherwise want some practical work experience, an internship can offer much to help you grow in your career and learn more about your interests and work preferences. With options ranging from remote internships you can do from home to traditional on-site experiences that immerse you in the company and industry, internship programs have become more diverse and flexible.
Take a look at three things you should know about internship programs to help you decide whether this option fits your career goals and learn how to find opportunities.
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1. How Internship Opportunities Work
Often lasting around a few months, an internship may be a paid or unpaid work experience that college students, recent graduates and career changers can use to put their skills to use and gain a valuable entry on their resumes. This role often involves performing duties in your specific area and assisting with clerical tasks for other staff, and you might work part- or full-time hours during the internship experience. Interns benefit from mentorship and gain valuable knowledge of how companies work, while companies benefit from the extra help and talent that interns provide.
After completing an internship, you might eventually get a permanent job offer at the company based on their needs and your performance. Therefore, it's important to put in hard work, show interest and stay professional. Even if you don't continue working with the company, you'll come away with hands-on experience that can lead to a future role and connections with colleagues that can help you land other opportunities. You can also complete multiple internships to try out different work environments.
2. Internship Pros and Cons
By completing an internship experience, you get the main benefits of gaining professional experience in your field and networking with other professionals – both of which can help you land your dream job later. You can also gain and improve your hard and soft skills from your daily work tasks as well as better understand the work environment.
In many cases, you can find paid internships that help you financially while you study or work on building your resume. Further, your internship experience can help you discover your passions and identify your dislikes so that you choose the right kind of career.
On the other hand, you might not benefit well financially if you choose an unpaid internship or get paid a lower-than-average wage through a paid opportunity. So, some recent grads and career changers might decide to find a traditional entry-level job instead.
While intern duties vary by company, there's the chance that you might end up doing more work assisting others with unrelated tasks than gaining hands-on experience in your specialty.
3. How to Land an Internship
To find out which internship opportunities are available in your specialization, you have plenty of options that range from checking with your college's career center to using popular job-hunting websites like Monster and Indeed to locate remote and on-site options. You can also check company websites directly, ask around your community or look into professional organizations.
Due to the pandemic, more companies now offer remote internship opportunities that allow you to expand your options much further than your city and open the door to roles in major companies.
Whether you seek a summer internship for college students or a longer opportunity for career changers, you can expect much of the same process when applying to internship programs. Make sure you meet the education requirements and any required affiliation or experience that recruiters list.
Even if you're applying for an internship without experience, you still need to have a cover letter and resume prepared that highlights the skills, education and knowledge you do have relevant to the opportunity.
College career offices and local job centers can help with creating important application documents and help you prepare for common interview questions the hiring manager may ask. You can also find plenty of resources online and hear about experiences from past interns.
- Saint Mary's College: Understanding the Internship Process
- Handshake: Remote Internships for College Students: A Guide
- Monster: 5 Big Benefits of Doing an Internship
- The State University of New York: 10 Reasons Why An Internship Is Important to All Students
- University of Maryland, Baltimore County: What Is an Internship?
- Vault: How to Turn Your Internship Into a Full-Time Job