An internship can be the starting point of a graduate’s career and we cannot emphasise enough how important they are in today’s job market because although a graduate may be academically convincing they will obviously lack practical work experience. There is a noticeable gap in a graduate fresh out of university and a graduate who has 12 months work experience.
An internship will be hard work but will give a graduate the opportunity to:
- Help them learn about their career path in a practical manner;
- Help them decide what avenue they may wish to pursue, if in law for example, what area they are most interested in, perhaps working in a criminal department may be more appealing than conveyance;
- Develop practical skills and character build as this will ultimately increase confidence;
- Work part of a team and develop communications skills;
- Provide evidence to a potential employer of commitment and initiative.
An internship is a very good credential to itemise on a curriculum vitae because an employer seeing any work placements will be more likely to consider that applicant for a job. A working environment is completely different to being engaged with a group of students at college or university. An internship will offer a graduate first-hand experience, it becomes a matter of individual marketing and a candidate should naturally progress to the next stage of their career.
What to do when you are offered an internship:
- Conduct yourself in a professional manner at all times, be polite to people, mix with as many people at all levels as possible and try not to exclude other departments;
- Always look busy and do not pass up an opportunity regardless if it is unattractive or trivial to you, what is important is your attitude, flexibility and a willingness to learn these are crucial factors;
- Ask your internship supervisor for a regular meeting, receive feedback and criticism positively and state that, if need be, you will do your best to improve;
- Do not be timid and ask appropriate questions relating to the company and job roles;
- Make a list of your objectives including what goals you want to achieve, be clear in your mind of what exactly you want to accomplish, bear in mind that this is your chance to learn and make an impression.
An internship is like a passport which permits entry into an area that is hard to break into and more companies are now hiring their own interns.
When your internship is complete ask whether they are hiring and if not would they be prepared to refer you to a company that is and, most importantly, ask for a letter of recommendation. Studies and statistics have proven that employers highly consider internship experience as one of the key factors when reviewing a candidate’s curriculum vitae and eventually hiring graduates.