Why Should You Do An Internship?
Original article: https://www.europelanguagejobs.com/blog/23-Reasons-To-Do-Internship
Written by: Lee
Date: Oct 1, 2018
"What are the benefits of doing an internship? What effect can an internship have on your career? Benefits range from a great way to get yourself into a company, to becoming an expert in your chosen industry and test driving an industry to set yourself up for life, let's take look at 23 reasons WHY you and your career can benefit from an internship! Make sure to look out for the case studies where we will be speaking to people who have done internships and moved on to have amazing careers!
Why do an internship?
Gain Industry Knowledge From Experts
There is no substitute for experience. I don’t know who that quote is from but I like it so I’m using it. Learning from experienced professionals is a tremendous way to get to know your industry. Sure, you’ve read all about the latest trends in marketing, sales or teaching, but there are people who have actually been doing this for years that can teach you little tricks and more efficient ways of doing things, so why not use their knowledge and add it to your own set of skills? It’s just one reason why internships and mentors can be great if you can get good ones.
People are often surprised when they leave school or graduate from University, by the huge difference between what you read in text books vs completing tasks in the real world. In University you can often skate by for weeks at a time doing very little, go to lectures and sit on your phone, maybe get some homework done the night before it’s due in. In (most) workplaces this simply won’t do as your manager and colleagues are aware of your productivity and hold you accountable if you don’t complete it satisfactorily.
An example I can share with you is in my current job, each of us has 2-3 long-term activities and one short-term that we have to spend time on each day. If any of us neglect just one of these activities then we’re all aware of it and hear about it from our Director within an hour or two. Very different from a more chilled out Uni isn’t it?
You don't control your own schedule anymore
It can be a shock to the system when moving from University to full-time work because you are no longer totally in charge of your own schedule, this can be frustrating because at University you can be thoroughly enjoying your freedom and suddenly having to live by a schedule decided by someone else can take some adjustment. Getting used to this through an internship can be helpful and ease the transition from graduation to full-time work.
A colleague of mine once brought up the ‘Imposter syndrome’, when someone gets a new job but worries ‘am I capable of this? Do I actually have the skills?’ which I thought was interesting as it was something I had experienced myself when starting a new job but I was unaware it was something that happens to a lot of people.
If you are starting out on your internship and feel this ‘imposter syndrome’ so what? You’re here to learn so of course you don’t know everything yet. Which brings us onto to our next point…
Learn without pressure
The fact you’re doing an internship is like those ‘L’ learner plates that trainee drivers have on their cars. Your colleagues are aware that you are not an expert yet and so adjust their expectations accordingly, this can reduce the pressure on the intern greatly and allow you to learn at your own pace (within reason of course, 6 weeks to learn the filing system is a bit much).
While you’re on the internship it’s a fantastic opportunity to develop skills, things you could never do before. Until I did my internship in renewable energy I had only ever given presentations to classmates and was so nervous beforehand that I dreaded it. However, after the experience of writing out the company business plan and presenting it to would be investors, I now feel extremely confident in my ability knowing that if I have a good grasp of the material, there is nothing to be concerned about as I can present in an informative manner and comfortably answer questions.
Internships also help in that they expose you to workplace issues that aren’t covered in the classroom. Even simple things like going out with your friends for a few drinks on Thursday evening and not quite fancying an early morning lecture on Friday doesn’t cause much of an issue. This is a totally different issue in the workplace and can lead to big problems, not just an angry boss, but your colleagues genuinely depend on you for group productivity so if you go missing, they will often have to pick up your slack and unless you genuinely can’t get to work, that’s not fair.
Group work at University can be frustrating, but the pressure you feel to get a passing grade is nothing compared to investors or directors who are judging you and your group’s knowledge and ideas.
Practical Experience For Your CV
It’s awesome to receive A’s on your papers at Uni and employers will appreciate this, to a point, after this they want to see what are you actually capable of? What have you done other than read and then write a few assignments? An internship is a chance to demonstrate you can put theoretical knowledge into practice.
In my personal experience I found that once I’d done my internship and was able to add tasks and accomplishments to my CV to go alongside my academic achievements, interest from companies sky rocketed. It’s because someone who already has experience is less of a risk. The fact that someone has already hired you and the new company can see what you’ve done really boosts your EMPLOYABILITY.
Let’s say a company is looking for someone to work in their operations department, are they going to hire the person who has been reading about Six Sigma and lean production processes for three years or the person who has actually been working in the industry? The same is true of so many industries such as sales, IT, finance, teaching and more. Practical experience looks great on your CV and can also help with answering difficult interview questions as you have real world experience to draw upon and things to talk about!
Get Your Foot In The Door Of An Interesting Company
Jobs or at least, interviews often go to people that businesses and recruiters already have some connection with, this is an unfortunate situation I suffered from for a long time. I had no connections in Barcelona and did no networking, thinking and hoping that my talent and hard work would get me the job, sad thing is in many instances, this isn’t the case. As we will see later in a case study with Munish, he was clever enough to utilize a link between his University and a company which got him an introduction, meaning he was not just a faceless CV anymore, but a real person with skills and something to offer, this is INVALUABLE.
Possibility of full-time work after an internship if you perform well
The internship should never be the ultimate goal, it should be the stepping stone on the way. If you do a great job at the place you’re interning, there’s a possibility of getting a full-time job there! Two of my colleagues in my current company started out as interns and moved onto managerial positions in the company. This is what I mean by ‘foot in the door’ these two are very competent individuals and found their way in by accepting the internship and demonstrating their skills. Not everyone is so lucky but by working hard and producing results, what’s stopping you from doing the same thing they did?
Demonstrate you’re a hard worker
Something my Mum ingrained in me from a young age was the importance of showing up early and when possible, stay late, even if its only for 5 minutes. I didn’t realize how much managers love this attitude, someone who stays to get the job done and doesn’t run out the door at the first opportunity.
As you will see from a case study later, making connections for the future can be of great benefit further down the road. A friend of mine got a great new job and the first year of his PhD paid for by a man running a company who used to be his manager during his internship. I’m not saying it will work out this way for everyone but it could be something as simple as a job referral or a skills recommendation on your LinkedIn!
A former colleague of mine has gone on to have the best job of any of my friends and anyone my age that I know of (we’ll speak to him later to find out more). He is currently getting paid to travel the world and write about beach soccer, how amazing is that? But how did he get the job? A referral! Someone knew about a vacancy at the place he’s working now and recommended him for the role. He did his time in an internship and learned loads about his industry, now he can combine this with being a great writer and everything came together so that next week he’s off to Portugal to write about beach soccer!
As stated earlier, finding a mentor can be of great benefit because you can be exposed to all the experiences that this person has had, the advice, things to do, things to avoid, how to deal with certain situations but there is also the chance they could put you in touch with someone for your next role!
Test-drive a career: do you want to do this for the rest of your life?
A great passion of mine is protecting the environment and so upon graduation from my Masters I immediately embarked on an internship in renewable energy thinking this was my way to do something positive for the world.
I soon realized that the job provided almost no freedom, I needed to be between the laboratory, office and factory floor from 9-5 every day. This was great for a while because I was busy (the worst thing in a job is boredom) but it wasn’t something I could do for the next 60 years.
Doing an internship allowed me to do a ‘test drive’ of sorts and whilst I enjoyed my time there and learned a lot, I decided not to accept the offer of a full-time job as it wasn’t right for me. Something I would have been reluctant to do if I had signed a full-time contract, I would have felt obliged to stay.
Internships allow us to test-drive a company as well as the industry. Let’s face it, some companies are great and some are just plain rubbish, no work life balance, boring job, poor pay, horrible co-workers etc. The internship is a light at the end of the tunnel, knowing you’ll be leaving and not stuck here until your 65! This way you can throw yourself into the job learning as much as possible.
Get yourself references to support job applications
Similar to networking, references can help get your foot in the door of a company. Put yourself in the situation of a hiring manager, what mean’s more: a phone call from a trusted colleague or ex-colleague regarding an interesting candidate or one of the 200 CV applications in your email inbox?
Having a reference adds weight to your application, backing up your claims of skills and experience. I can't tell you the struggles I used to have when applying for a job and they ask for references, who the hell do I put? sure I can email my old manager but...who knows if they'll reply?!
TIP: ASK FOR REFERENCES BEFORE YOU LEAVE
Don’t leave a company without at least asking for at least one reference, try and get a few. It’s true that some people don’t like to do it (selfish) but the majority of your colleagues/managers will be happy to help because they remember there was a time that they needed help too. So ask!
Learn a new language
Do you like to travel? To see new places? Why not try an internship abroad? An internship abroad can really help improve your foreign language skills and make you an invaluable asset should your acquired language be needed in the future (This is something I discussed in a previous article How To Find An Internship Abroad In 2018). Moving abroad helps you gain the independence and confidence that you might be capable of more than you previously thought, of doing things in a different way! If you´re interested in doing an internship in Europe be sure to register with ELJ and take a look at vacancies all over Europe.
Two big reasons to do your internship abroad are to get outside your comfort zone and HAVE AN ADVENTURE! When you graduate do you really have many responsibilities? Most of us don’t have dependents to look after or any other big reasons that could keep you from moving abroad. This usually changes the older we get so grab the opportunity while you can! Get out, have an adventure so you’ve got experience and stories to tell!"