In a highly competitive job market, having only good grades won’t cut it. Work experience is now the way to go. But how should students get experience? The answer is internships. These are full-time or part-time positions taken usually by university students for a set period, normally during summer breaks. Students normally apply for internships during undergraduate studies typically either in their first or second year. However, some people apply during their final year if they plan to do a Masters. Internships are seen almost as a necessity when applying for a full-time position due to the wide array of benefits they provide.
Benefits of Internships
Be Ahead of the Curve
One benefit that internships provide is invaluable work experience. You will gain an edge over other candidates applying to similar positions who previously did not take internships. As the job market is highly saturated, even entry-level positions require some form of experience from applicants. You will be able to gain exposure to the business in your preferred career path by having an internship. As a result, you will be able to gain a deeper understanding of how a company in your industry works. Let’s say you had a stint as an equity research intern. You will be more versed in researching industry data and valuing stocks compared to someone who is completely new to it.
Meet the Right People
In addition, another benefit that internships provide is the opportunity to meet a potential mentor. For instance, interns may be assigned a mentor who helps them navigate around the inner workings of the industry. Mentors provide guidance for tasks and will help interns develop the technical and soft skills required to succeed in their job. It follows from this that you can develop crucial networks with your internship. For example, your mentor may recommend you to other professionals in the industry via references and recommendations. Additionally, your colleagues during the internship may also be valuable connections for your future jobs.
Get to Test the Waters
Furthermore, you may be given duties similar to a full-time employee. This means that you will be able to determine whether it is the appropriate career for you. You may come out of an internship realising that you don’t suit the role. That is completely fine; it means that the job wasn’t for you. If you enjoyed your role immensely and have performed well in it, internships also provide the opportunity to transition into a permanent position. This certainly helps to eliminate the stress from job applications once your final year of university begins.
A Few Things to Note Before You Start Applying to Internships
They are Notoriously Difficult to Enter
However, entry into an internship is also highly competitive. Although prior work experience is not necessary in most cases, a large majority of companies require you to have at least volunteering or extracurricular experience on your resume. You should ideally have participated in societies at your university or high school previously. Positions in part-time jobs are also a great thing to have on your resume when applying for internships as these may convey soft skills to your potential employers. Also, it helps to have networked with employees before you apply to the company. Networking with family members who have experience in the industry is also a good way to give you a head start.
The Earlier You Apply the Better
You should start applying for internships as early as possible. For summer internships, you should start applying by mid-September although some small to mid-size companies still recruit around January or February. You should also apply to multiple internships to increase your chances of getting hired. Use job searching sites such as LinkedIn or Wobb to apply to advertised positions. As you apply, constantly refine your resume and cover letter for each job. Employers dislike a generic CV and cover letter. Furthermore, some positions may not be publicly advertised by the company you are interested in. In this case, you should write a speculative cover letter to them explaining why you are a suitable candidate for the job.
Explore Alternatives to Traditional Internships
With the recent COVID-19 pandemic forcing everyone to stay inside, another viable option that has emerged is virtual internships. These are internships that can be done remotely. As a result, they remove the need for commuting or travelling to a certain geographical location. Indeed, some students have even done virtual internships during the school year due to the convenience. They are a great alternative because you will receive duties that may be similar to what you get in a traditional internship. Working hours also tend to be more flexible. However, virtual internships won’t give you the experience of a typical internship held at an office. Surveillance is also difficult for your superior which means that self-discipline is of utmost importance.
Overall, internships are a great way to gain work experience in the field you are interested in. You will obtain valuable insight into what a full-time position in the industry would be like. Keep in mind that entry is highly competitive, and you should have backup options to make your summer as productive as possible. If you need any help with your CV/resume, EduReviews is here to support you! Also, if you have any experiences that you would like to share, let us know in the comment box below.
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