Many students applying for positions in today’s job market have come to realise that successfully applying for a job in their chosen professions is becoming increasingly difficult.
Due to the current economic climate, many companies simply can’t afford to hire employees as regularly as they used to. Instead, many employers are offering internships to skilled (but usually inexperienced) candidates to help reduce the skills shortages in their companies.
By offering internships, companies are able to hire individuals who’ve just completed their studies (or who have decided to make a career change) for a short-term period without taking on the financial burden of paying full salaries. This gives interns the opportunity to gain relevant experience in their chosen industries, but without earning big salaries.
Internships can last for anything from a few weeks to six or even twelve months or longer. Depending on the company; the industry; and the intern’s skill set, qualifications, and work experience, internships could either be unpaid positions, or they could come with a small stipend or entry-level salary.
Taking all of the above into account, there are both advantages and disadvantages to applying for an internship:
- You can gain work experience and develop your workplace skills.
- You can potentially earn a small stipend or salary.
- You can learn more about your chosen industry.
- You can network with professionals in your field, which helps when it comes to references and future job opportunities.
- You can gain confidence in your abilities.
- You might receive little or no pay for the work that you do.
- Some internships can actually cost you money (e.g. you usually have to pay for travelling to work and back).
- You have no guarantee that you will be hired for a full-time position when your internship comes to an end.
- You might be expected to perform a wide variety of tasks (some of which will be unrelated to your chosen career path), which might make it difficult to focus on developing the relevant skills.
Like an entry-level job, an internship gives you the opportunity to learn and to explore various aspects of a specific job or industry, usually while earning a small salary. If you’re struggling to find a permanent position in your chosen field, then applying for an internship is a good option, as it will help you gain the experience you need to apply for the jobs you really want.
The catch is, of course, that many internships today can be quite exploitative. If you end up spending more money than you are making just to get to work, for example, you should consider other opportunities instead. Before deciding on a particular internship, make sure that the conditions are not detrimental to you and your professional and personal progress.
Note: This article was originally published on 1 February 2016, and has been updated for comprehensiveness and accuracy.