What is an Internship?

Posted by Clareese Packer

An internship is a type of work experience that typically lasts between 10-12 weeks. They’re designed to help students learn in a hands-on environment, where you can assist with real workplace tasks to grow your skills and understanding before heading into the workplace. Internships are a great way to gain experience before you even graduate, and depending what university you’re at, you may be able to complete some that contribute towards your course credit! 

What are the different types of internships?

Unpaid Internships

At unpaid internships, you’ll most likely be observing and assisting other employees and employers, which is a great way to learn and get some experience. While the lack of pay might sound discouraging, it’s still an excellent way to get your foot in the door of your chosen industry!

Paid Internships

These are more like a part-time job rather than work experience - you’re likely to complete tasks independently, and you’re paid for the work you do.

Virtual Internships

Virtual internships allow you to work remotely, which became especially useful during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Just like other internships, you complete or assist with tasks for the business you’re interning at - except in this case, it’s all done online! 

What are the benefits of an internship? 


While studying is a great way to learn and better your skills before you apply for jobs, getting real work experience is arguably just as important. Putting your skills to use in a professional context as opposed to university assignments is extremely helpful, especially when you begin applying for jobs. The experience you gain will demonstrate to employers that you’ve already got some of the key criteria they’re looking for. Having this kind of experience on your resume will also help you stand out in the application process, as it shows you’re dedicated and willing to learn. Additionally, taking part in an internship could directly lead to a job if you impress the company you’re at - they might offer you a permanent (paid) position when your internship finishes!

Network and connections
Building your network is important, and it’s never too early to start. Internships allow you to make connections with people in your chosen field before you begin seeking jobs, which can in turn help you when you kick off your job search. It’s also a great way to bulk up your resume with relevant experience, and even gain references for your resume. You could even get professional referrals or recommendations, which can really help you in the process of landing a job.
Trying new things
Internships give you the freedom to try some of the different roles your industry offers without pressure. They’re an excellent way to find out what you enjoy and what you don’t, so when it comes time to start applying for jobs, you have a good idea about what you want to pursue. It’s also a good way to gain multiple different skill sets, so if there are several roles you’re open to, you’ve had a wide range of experience, which can expand your options.

How do I find an internship?

GradConnection has its very own internship section where you’re able to find listings for hundreds of opportunities! You can also check our your university careers hub where they may offer partnered internships and have listings available for you to choose from.

Tips for applying for an internship

A targeted resume and cover letter

Firstly, you should make sure your resume and cover letter are targeted to each internship you’re applying for. If you’re unsure, we’ve put together some quick guides on how to write the perfect resume and cover letter. 
Highlight your skills 

Next, make the most of the skills you gained at university. You might not have any relevant work experience to showcase yet, but be sure to mention how you will apply the skills you’ve learned at university to the role you’re applying for. 

Create a portfolio
Depending what industry you’re looking to move into, you might also need a portfolio. Creating an online portfolio is a great, accessible way to showcase your work, and luckily, we’ve got you covered on that front, too!

Make several applications 
Additionally, don’t be afraid to put out multiple applications - according to the 2022 AAGE Intern Survey Report, over 80 percent of interns applied for more than one internship to increase their chances. Also, remember to apply for the internships that seem interesting to you, not just ones you think you have a better chance of getting or ones that seem less competitive.

How much do internships pay?

According to the 2022 AAGE Intern Survey Report, one in four interns received an annual salary between $55,000 - $60,000. The lowest reported salary was $30,000, with the highest sitting at $80,000 or more. So really, the pay varies depending on the industry and company you’re looking at - and some don’t pay at all. If you are looking at an unpaid internship, though, it’s always a good idea to double check the guidelines on whether you should be getting paid or not. Ultimately, the skills and experience you gain is more important than the pay - so where possible, try not to focus too much on the salary!

About The Author

Clareese is a Media and Communications (journalism) graduate from La Trobe University. She worked at GradConnection as a Student Journalist where she covered a range of topics on the student blog and reported on the 2023 Top100 Awards. She’s now working in an exciting new role as a Cadet Journalist at News Corp based in NSW. 


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