Top Tips About Internships
Top Tips About Internships
By Mark Wager
This week I received an email from a student in Suva who is looking for an internship and wanted some information, about what internships are and whether they are worth it and how to go about getting one. For those who are unaware of what internships are, this is when someone, most commonly a student works for an organisation in exchange for experience instead of money. I introduced an internship programme when I worked for a Government department and it provided an opportunity for students to gain work experience and with the extra help, I got work done that wouldn't have been completed otherwise.
An internship programme if done correctly can be of great value to both parties, the intern and the organisation recruiting the interns. In this article I'm going to explore what needs to happen in order to make internships work.
An internship can be a great educational experience
Too often I see students leave education believing that they have little to nothing left to learn, yet nothing could be further from the truth. To have a successful career regardless of what industry you want to enter, you need many skills. The majority of skills are not taught at schools and universities. Work experience can be invaluable and it also helps reinforce the learning the student has gained already because the best preparation for doing a job is actually doing it. If a student can find the right company, and more on that in a moment, then an internship can provide the educational experience that will greatly accelerate the intern’s career.
Interns can offer a lot to any organisation
An obvious benefit for companies to have an intern programme is having free labour but the true benefits go far beyond that. An organisations future success depends on its ability to attract and retain quality employees and every business knows that it's a challenge to find quality employees in today's job market. What a lot of companies are discovering is that if you can't find quality employees then you can make them and an internship programme is an effective way to do this. This is common with law firms and what they have found that there's no better way to find the ideal future employee than to have them work with the organisation for a short period. A good internship can be the ultimate job interview.
Internships only work if its the right match
For an internship programme to work it requires the right fit for both sides. The organisation has to be committed to giving the intern the best experience possible, it's an educational experience and the organisation needs to be willing to invest time in the intern to provide them with valuable lessons. For the intern they shouldn't be looking at just any organisation, internships only work if there's a genuine interest in the work they are doing or there are clear benefits gained from working there.
You get out what you put in
I've taken on a lot of interns in the past and I always tell them the same thing, that is you get out as much as you are willing to put in. The most successful internship experiences have been when the intern has given 100% commitment. This allowed me to provide the intern with more and more advanced and therefore more interesting tasks. This made for a much more rewarding experience for the intern and organisation got a lot more benefit. If either of the parties are not fully committed the internship not only doesn't work but can in worst case scenarios end up a complete waste of time.
Don't wait for an opportunity to present itself
Here's a piece of advice that is specific for interns and is what I mentioned to the student that contacted me and that is don't wait for an opportunity to present itself go out and make it happen. If you want a great internship experience that could accelerate your career then look at what would be the ideal company you want to work with or who would be a person you admire that you can learn from and approach them. If you do approach them then make it clear what value you can add because taking on an intern is an investment in time so you need to make it clear what value you would add in order to make that investment worthwhile.
So whether you are an intern looking for some more work experience or an organisation who wants to help develop the next generation you may find that an internship programme may well be the ideal solution.
Posted: Monday 23 October 2017