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So You Think You Want an Internship?

by Shirley Erasmus

Are you interested in going into a certain field but not sure of what to expect? An internship can help you gain valuable experience in a particular field and understand what a certain job might involve.

So, what exactly is an internship and why would you need one?

An internship is an opportunity offered by employers to students who are interested in a specific industry. For example, a journalism student may want to gain practical experience in the field by doing an internship at a local newspaper.  This will help with learning how the industry works.

A student studying engineering may consider doing an internship at an engineering company.  This is a great way to build connections and get your foot in the door for when job hunting begins. However, internships are not only for current students. It is also an option for matriculants who are considering whether they wish to study or what they should study.

Interns will work at a company for a certain period, from a few weeks to a few months. Internships can also be voluntary or paid, depending on the type of work being done and what the particular company offers. Usually, the company will offer you’re a reference letter based on your performance during the time of the internship – regardless of whether the internship is paid or not. This is a reference letter that you can give to a potential employer, at a later stage, to show your experience in the field.

Why is it important to do an internship?

These days, experience is considered invaluable. Completing an internship is considered a vital part of your studies. It helps you gain practical experience in your desired field before starting or finishing your studies. This practical experience is just as valuable to the actual study as it is to the field of work. After all, you cannot really understand what a job is all about until you have worked in that kind of environment.

Internships provide you with the chance to speak to people who have experience in the role you might aspire to be in one day.  It also provides an opportunity to build relationships with people who will be able to vouch for your skills at a later stage. It is important to realise that your career aspirations may change when you have experience in a particular role. You may find that you are not as interested in the field or don’t enjoy the working environment.

This means an internship is valuable in helping you understand whether you will enjoy your career when it starts.

Of course, an internship is all about gaining practical experience, which allows you to build on the theory you may already have learned. It allows you to strengthen your CV and can help make you more attractive to prospective employers.

What are the benefits of doing an internship?

After a successful internship, it is possible to be offered a full-time position by your employer. Many employers and companies use internships as a trial to seek new employees. Therefore, an internship, if successful, can be a gateway to full-time employment. This is why it’s important to take an internship very seriously. It is vital to make a good impression, arrive on time, be enthusiastic, show your flexibility, adaptability, and commitment to the job. If you are not offered a full-time job, you will still be able to receive a glowing reference letter. This can be your path to employment elsewhere!

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Whether you’re considering doing an internship to gain practical experience in your field of study, or looking to get your foot in the door after matric, this is a great opportunity.  An internship is a fantastic way to gain experience and a chance to improve your CV or even gain long-term employment. Explore some of the internship opportunities available to you using Trusted Interns. 

As Steve Jobs says,

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”

You will be able to find more information on apprenticeships and learnerships on this article.

Completing an internship could be a vital step in your journey of discovery.  Remember to keep an open mind. Interns aren’t always considered to be potential ‘future’ employers. They are often given the silly tasks which nobody wants to complete!

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