Written by Harriet Eastgate
Finishing a university degree is a huge achievement. But unfortunately, in most cases it’s not enough to get you your dream job. There are a few different things you need to be doing prior to graduating to give yourself the best chance at landing a job, and interning is one of the most important. Here’s 8 reasons why internships are a great way to advance your career prospects.
1. You’ll get actual ‘real world’ experience
If you choose the right place to undertake your internship, you will learn A LOT. It’s a hands-on experience that can teach you a lot more than what you learn in your degree alone. The key is to make sure you intern in the right place. Big companies are often a great choice. They have structures and policies that they run their internships by which means you’re not going to be taken advantage of.
They’re going to push you to get the most out of your internship. Most of the time when you leave university, working in the real world is extremely different to being at university, so getting as much ‘real world’ experience prior to graduation will give you the best chance of success in a full-time position.
The video below provides a great overview of various internship experiences and the importance of applying at the right place.
2. If you undertake more than one internship, you’ll develop a range of skills for your CV
Internships are another piece of experience that you can include in your CV – bonus! The great thing about an internship is that there will be a lot of skills you can add to your CV. If you undergo more than one internship, you’ll have a range of skills that will appeal to a variety of potential employers.
One of the keys to a great resume is how you tailor it for the specific industry or job. Undertaking multiple internships provides you with options to include, also allowing you to exclude certain experiences from your CV, depending on what job you’re going for. Of course, if they’re all applicable, you can include them all (but be careful not to include too much!).
3. It will help you decide what kind of job you want (or don’t want) after you graduate
This is one of the best things about an internship – you can trial different jobs and industries. For example, if you’re studying PR, often there are two very distinct pathways: In-house and agency work. Completing an internship in each of these environments allows you to test both options and decide which direction you want to take when graduating.
This is the same for many creative industries. There are so many options and it can be very daunting deciding on which direction to take. Testing a few different options out through internships is great for trialling future jobs without being locked in to anything.
Undertaking internships is a great way to build professional connections (so make sure you make a good impression). If your supervisor/s are impressed with your work ethic, efficiency and deliverables they are likely to recommend you to professionals in their own network.
Getting to know your internship colleagues is the ultimate way to network without having to officially network. Get to know them in your lunch breaks, but make sure you keep it professional. You should also try to keep in contact with your internship supervisors even after your internship has ended. Add them to your LinkedIn network or email them to check in and see how a project you were working on has progressed.
5. You could gain a mentor
A mentor can be a great help to you as you work your way up the career ladder. They can provide you with professional advice and help you to navigate your career – particularly if their experience and success align with your goals and objectives. It can be incredibly hard to find a mentor, but luckily an internship can be the ideal environment to do so – particularly if you’re interning somewhere that you’d like to work full-time.
If you’ve made the effort to network throughout your internship, you may find a particular colleague who is really inspiring. Stay in contact with this person post-internship and listen to what they have to say.
6. You’ll be more attractive to potential employers
Completing internships (unpaid internships to be specific) is a great way to show potential employers that you’re pro-active and willing to go the extra mile – because that’s exactly what you’ve done by getting these internships. The fact that you’ve taken the initiative to gain experience shows your passion and dedication to your career and industry.
It’s well known that while university is a stepping stone in your career, it doesn’t prepare you for the reality of the workforce. While 73% of graduates find full-time work within four months of graduating, this transition can be overwhelming and not at all what university has prepared you for. Internships are a great way to ease this transition and prepares you for what full-time work after university is actually like. Not only will you have a better idea of what to expect when you get a full-time job, but you’ll have a better understanding of how to succeed in your job.
8.You could get your dream job
The icing on the cake of internships is that you could be hired as a full-time employee when your internship has finished (and therefore start your career before you’ve even graduated!). Of course, this isn’t a guarantee for everyone but it’s a definite possibility and the ultimate reason as to why you should be undertaking internships whilst you’re studying. If this is your goal, you need to make sure your supervisor is aware of this and you prove to them why they should hire you.
So now you know why you should undertake multiple internships – go and get yourself one! Don’t wait for an opportunity to be staring at you in the face. Actively search for internships that you want to undertake and apply.
Remember, companies don’t necessarily advertise these positions, so you can always find a company that you want to intern at and email the relevant person. Don’t forget to make sure your application is on its A-game as internships are competitive.