Internships: What They are and How They Work?
2 Mar 22 by Jason
As you near the end of your academic career, you will begin to apply for entry-level positions within your field. However, landing these positions for fresh graduates can be challenging, especially for those pursuing IT, as competition for these positions is extremely fierce. Combine this with our current job market, which is requiring practical work experience for even the lowest level positions, getting your foot in the door can be daunting. Thankfully, internships are a handy solution that can train you for embarking into your industry while also providing you with valuable work experience.
What Are Internships?
Internships are short-term working positions offered by companies to train and provide experience to the intern. While these positions are most often geared towards graduating students, most fields and professions provide internships. While at an internship, the intern will work on projects, learn practical information on their field, work alongside other industry professionals, network, hone their skills, and apply their education in a real-world setting. Some internships even allow the intern to shadow a lead, by doing this they have a mentor who shows them the ins-and-outs of the position while guiding them on their work.
What Kind Of Internships Are There?
The specifics of each internship will vary for each organization, but overall, the most common types of internships are the following:
Paid: Paid internships are the most common and provide payment for the intern's services; this payment is usually salary or hourly. Paid internships have a more thorough application process, stricter requirements, require more commitment, and have a heavier workload than unpaid internships. However, paid interns have a greater chance of being hired post-internship; according to a NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) study, in 2019, 66% of paid interns received a job offer, while only 43% of unpaid interns were offered a job. Paid internships are also seen more favorably by recruiters and hiring managers. Because of the many benefits of paid internships, they are often highly competitive and can require multiple interviews and assessments.
Unpaid: While not as common, unpaid internships still exist throughout most fields. These internships are usually less work-intensive and geared towards study. These internships are also easier to get into and greatly favor college students who are either nearing graduation or have just graduated. Therefore, unpaid internships can still be highly valuable experiences. However, sadly, many industries use unpaid internships to get free labor. When applying to internships, it can be helpful to review the United State's 7 Point Test to help determine if the internship favors you or the company.
Full Time or Part Time: Each industry has its own standards for internship time; however, part-time internships are the most common. However, full-time internships are the norm in the tech, engineering, and legal fields and are also more often paid; the purpose behind this is to mirror the job as closely as possible, including hours worked.
Credit or Non-Credit: Certain organizations collaborate with universities or other academic institutions to offer internships that count towards college credits. These internships are usually highly focused on a specific area of study that falls within the disciplines of a particular college (such as IT, Law, or Engineering.) Often students are required to convey what information they learned through assessments, journals, papers, or projects.
Why Are Internships Important?
Internships provide newcomers to an industry with the ability to learn valuable, practical skills in a working environment. This is done by working alongside seasoned, more experienced industry members and other interns. This environment provides valuable education and practical experiences guided by professionals. By going through an internship, you can learn what the day-to-day looks like for your field, improve both hard and soft skills, and learn how to apply your education to your future position.
Another valuable asset from internships are the networking opportunities they provide. At your internship, you will get to meet other industry pros and work alongside them; this allows you to make invaluable connections and contacts in your field. While there, you should be proactive with your communication and interactions; share social media accounts (preferably LinkedIn), have lunch(if appropriate), and make valuable contacts.
How To Find Internships
Finding internships used to be complicated; however, since they have become increasingly required for most industries, they are now more prevalent and accessible than ever. Here are just a few ways you can find and apply to internships:
Online Job Boards: There are countless internships available online, it's just a matter of finding and filtering them. To help narrow down your search, be specific and look for a position you are already interested in. Many websites help students and industry newcomers find internships; however, we find that job boards and dedicated internship sites offer the best bet; we recommend Indeed, LinkedIn, and Internship.com.
Campus and College Resources: Universities are rife with internships; start by checking out your student resource center, job boards, job fairs, and career centers. Many individual colleges within a university will have connections to yearly internships, so it's best to ask a professor of that college or a career counselor to help you get started on the appropriate applications.
Search Specific Companies: Many large corporations and industry-leading companies have annual internships. These internships are usually at the same time every year, are highly competitive, have a limited application window, and only select a small number of interns from the pool of applicants. While more challenging to get into, these internships are highly valuable and sought after and can be applied to year after year; it never hurts to apply, even more than once, and try and make it into your dream company.