The Importance of Internships

Whether you’re currently studying or looking to change careers, an internship can be a great way to get your foot in the door. But what is an internship, who are they for and how can they help you exactly? 

An internship can be anything from a week long work experience to three months employment. The idea is that these opportunities are designed to benefit everyone involved. They benefit you by enhancing your skill set and differentiate you from the growing line-up of other potential job candidates. They benefit the company because they get to sample your shiny enthusiasm and awesome new ideas for a fraction of the usual cost.

Internships are often advertised the same way jobs are, but getting to chat to people and finding out through friends if there are opportunities available is often a better way to find something that will benefit you. It should also prevent you from ending up running coffee for weeks on end.

Try thinking out of the box. Have a goal in mind and then search for companies that can offer you interesting and varied experience, whilst giving you the opportunity to show them what you’re made of. 

This deal is a two way street. If you work hard and make a great impression they will most likely refer you to other people and could help you grow your network. If you are knowledgeable and interested you should gain some valuable insight into the business and what is important to their hiring manager.

It is common to land further work with a company after an internship. In particular the fashion and media industries are known for finding talent through internships, which they then snatch up in order to grow and enhance their brand.

The surf industry is a perfect example of this culture in action. Getting to know the right people, standing out and working hard are all highly regarded. Plus you immediately share a common interest, which always helps.

Almost all employers are looking for experience on your CV. If you’re a student and you don’t have an employment history then work experience, internships and life experience can help to get you noticed. But an internship can also be helpful if you’re trying to figure out your next career move.

Even if you’re not looking to compete in the job market, an internship can be a great way to learn more about your chosen industry, your level of expertise or your business ideas. No one wants to study for years or make a big career change if they later find out their chosen job sucks. An internship can save you years of working out that fact, not to mention money and energy.

Once you have done your research and found an internship, the next step is to make sure you get the most out of it. If a company has committed to employing you as an intern (and it is a substantial commitment of their time and money even if it isn’t paid) you now have the opportunity to make a good impression.

Make sure you turn up on time, are helpful and be engaged. But if you really want to stand out then go that extra mile. Listen to the people you’re working with and find ways to make their life easier. Volunteer to help with projects and speak up if you have a great idea.

It can be hard to have the courage to offer up your ideas within a new team, but understand that your time is limited. In order to get the most out of the experience and make the best impression possible you need to be brave. Use the time constraints to give you the courage you need to make a positive impact.

At the end of your internship schedule a meeting with the person who has been overseeing your work. Take the time beforehand to write out a solution to a problem they have or an idea for a project that you think you could help with and detail how you would go about implementing it. This is the perfect chance to show them what you have learnt and how much you have taken in.

If you have shown initiative and contributed to their team and you think they would be a good reference, don’t be afraid to ask them for one. This is also a great chance to find a mentor who might help you with your career in the future. So if you click with someone, then make sure to approach them, thank them for the opportunity and give them your contact details. In a week or so contact them to follow up.

Internships open doors and give you invaluable industry insight. We’d be interested to hear if you’ve done an internship and where it took you… 

Posted by: Sarah Price, on April 1, 2014
Categories: Articles

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