An internship is a short-term work experience opportunity offered by a company which provides students with exposure to the workforce. Internships are a fantastic way to transition smoothly from university to your first job, and help you develop important skills that employers value!
In this article we detail the various types of internships you can apply for and explain the benefits of internship experience when applying for grad roles.
What are the different types of internships?
These types of internships are similar to a part-time job in the sense that you can gain experience whilst studying at university. These paid internships are oftened designed to fit around your schedule. Paid internship opportunities can become available at any company of any size, including startups or large corporations. You can find these kinds of positions advertised on job boards or even by cold emailing firms.
Seasonal Vacation Programs
Offered by many of the mid-large employers who offer formal graduate programs, seasonal vacation programs occur mostly in the summer and allow students to work for 1-3 months full-time to get hands-on valuable project experience. Employers also use these programs to evaluate students to hire after they graduate from university. These programs are generally paid.
These types of internships have seen an increase in popularity due to COVID-19. With employers facing restrictions regarding in-person interactions in offices, virtual internships are a great opportunity for students to work on a case study or project that reflects real-world problems. These employers work closely with companies like Forage to create virtual internship opportunities for students willing to upskill outside of university.
Students may undertake an unpaid internship if they are looking to get their foot in the door and gain some valuable experience. Unpaid internships are generally a short-term work experience placement rather than being part of a company's core operations. Students can use their unpaid internship experience to significantly increase their chances of receiving offers for grad programs or other full-time opportunities.
Work Integrated Learning (WIL) Placements
These placements are run by universities where they connect you to a company in a certain industry to complete a project as part of a university course offering. These will be structured so that you get real-world experience to supplement theoretical learnings in the classroom. Most of the time these placements are unpaid, however they will still contribute to the completion of your university degree as an elective.
What are the benefits of internships?
Gaining relevant work experience
If you are applying to a graduate role, relevant work experience can really set you apart. When you are competing against a large pool of students applying for the same industry, having transferable skills and a proven passion for the field is very beneficial!
Find out what you like vs. what you don't like
Whilst internships help employers find talented students for their graduate programs, internships are also a great opportunity for you to decide whether you like the industry you're hoping to work in. This is something that's often quite difficult to get during university, so it's important that you take any opportunity to gain real experience and find out what area you might like to pursue!
Expanding your professional network
You might have heard the saying, "It's not about what you know, but who you know". When preparing for your career, building a professional network of connections is one of the most valuable assets you can have. Working with others in various businesses during an internship gives you the chance to build strong relationships with people in industry and to prove that you are great to work with. You'd also be surprised how far a connection can go with regards to a referral or a good word.
Increase your chance of receiving a graduate role
Completing an internship makes you a competitive candidate by teaching you skills that employers look for and value. By building up your resume and your experience throughout university, you'll stand out when it comes time to apply for graduate programs or entry-level roles. You may even be offered a full-time position during your internship!