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What Is An Internship And How Do They Work?

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Experience is perhaps one of the most important factors employers consider when deciding who wins the available position.

Students and graduates alike should do their best to complete some work experience to gain a competitive edge over their peers.

This need for work experience allows internships to come into play and make a sizable difference.


What Is an Internship?

An internship program is short-term work experience that companies, organizations, and companies offer to gain entry-level experience in a particular field or industry.

In an ideal situation, interns will spend their time on pertinent projects, making connections, learning priceless info about the field, and developing relevant skills applicable toward their career goals.

In some instances, an internship can lead to a full-time job offer.

Generally speaking, an internship is 40 hours a week for ten to twelve weeks.

Internships in the fall and spring will vary however they’re almost always part-time.

Some of these internships are paid while others are not.

What Defines an Internship?

An internship is a highly structured, supervised learning experience in a professional setting.

Inexperienced individuals can gain work experience, typically in a student’s chosen field of study.

In most cases, internships require at least 120 hours.

This is usually ten hours a week at a minimum during the fall and spring.

During the summer, interns typically work either part-time or full-time.

What Do You Do in an Internship?

This will depend mostly on your industry of choice and the specific kind of internship that you signed up for.

For example, an internship in accounting will require a different set of responsibilities and roles than a research internship.

Typically an intern position is more of a support role, especially in the beginning.

Upon arriving at the internship, your job would be to assist, grow and learn from the position.

After acclimating to the post, you must continue to become more independent.

Below is a generalization of the kind of things that you will be expected to do as an intern:

Perform clerical duties

Draft reports, create PowerPoint presentations, research trends, draft reports, etc.

Managing social media and emails

You could be tasked with handling your company’s social media accounts and writing emails to customers who speak to clients on the phone.

Part of your day may include writing posts for social media, managing your posts, and responding to inquiries.

Event handling

It’s not uncommon for interns to oversee the scheduling for important events.

You may be asked to perform tasks such as procuring an appropriate location to help to create a theme for your key speakers.


Interns who have just arrived from university education are armed with a lot of current and up-to-date knowledge.

Your company may put you in a research role.

Moreover, you may have to look at a new project and give your insight and recommendations on how to best complete it.

Hard skills

Technical skills that you need to carry out your intern responsibilities and eventually your job duties successfully are referred to as hard skills.

Some examples include learning management skills, technical skills, or even understanding data analytics.

Soft skills

A soft skill refers to a person’s ability to relate to other individuals and the ability to build mutually-beneficial relationships.

Examples include people skills, motivation, emotional intelligence, and excellent communication.

Why Are Internships Important?

Internship experience can get your foot in the door of any given company.

You will most certainly have a leg up on the competition who has little to no experience.

1. Experiential Learning

Interns get the opportunity to work in close quarters next to successful industry professionals, and you will get a firm grasp on what to expect from an entry-level role.

You will gain valuable work experience and learn directly from professionals.

What’s more, you’ll begin to build your very own network, which will encompass seasoned leaders and fellow interns alike.

2. Stand Out Amongst Competitors

Companies want to see if you have taken the extra steps to gain the skills and experiences you’ll need outside of the classroom.

In response to this, many graduates are taking on more than just one internship but several.

In this way, they can acquire a wide range of experiences and skills from multiple companies, which all appeal to recruiters.

Because competition is higher than ever, not having an internship is something you can’t afford.

Not having an internship can stall in professional progress for longer than you’d expect.

3. Get Better Grades

Some studies suggest that having an internship can help graduates achieve higher grades than usual.

This happens because the internship offers in-depth knowledge of the ideas and principles learned while earning your degree.

Furthermore, even though some internships do not give you academic credit, many universities offer placements and experience as a percentage of your overall grade.

This will not only give you priceless experience but a better grade to boot.

4. Future Employment Opportunity

Work placements can behave not only as on-the-job training but as a form of audition for a full-time job.

Many students can secure future employment because of their internships before graduating.

Moreover, even if you don’t land a job right away from your intern, employers favor interns over new candidates.

They are more likely to keep you in mind when opportunities come available.

Perhaps they may even recommend you to their substantial network of connections.

5. Try Before You Commit

Perhaps you’ve always wanted to be a successful banker, and for this reason, you’ve been blind to the other world of possibilities concerning career choices.

Not only does having an internship allow you to gain the skills and experience needed for your career, but it will also grant you some insight as to whether you really want to work in the industry you selected.

Additionally, doing several internships will give you the chance to try out different areas of your chosen industry.

This will allow you to make a better and more informed decision on what department you’d want to get placed in and which company best suits you.

Why Do Companies Offer Internships?

Companies look to hire interns to bolster support for their existing employees and business by and large.

Internships allow companies to fortify their own future success while also discovering new talent and even future leaders.

What’s more, interns can take on menial tasks and let existing employees handle more pressing work.

Yet and still, some internships now offer jobs with more responsibilities.

Do You Get Paid in an Internship?

The choice between a paid internship and an unpaid internship may seem like a no-brainer, but there are benefits to both.

The primary benefit of agreeing to do an unpaid internship is that they are attainable and less demanding.

Because you wouldn’t be receiving financial compensation, the criteria to fulfill the position usually aren’t as strenuous.

So, if you don’t have experience, this is an excellent option.

The environment is more practical and allows you the opportunity to grow and explore that industry without a lot of expectations.

Some unpaid internships also count toward your college credit.

They’ll collaborate with your college’s career center to give an evaluation of your experience and determine if your internship can count toward your degree.

Unpaid internships present fantastic opportunities to combine employment experience in a field you’re interested in during your college career.

Obviously, with a paid internship, the most attractive quality is that you’ll be receiving financial compensation while you gain experience.

You can get a salaried position, or it might be an hourly wage.

The hours also vary based on your employer.

You’ll probably work a minimum of 20 hours per week, but it could be as much as 40 hours a week.

You also have a better chance of obtaining a job offer after a paid internship than if the internship is unpaid.

According to a report by the U.S. News, an unpaid intern only has a 39.5 percent chance to receive a job offer after the internship, compared to 65.4 percent of paid interns.

How Much Do Interns Get Paid?

An internship program can pay weekly, biweekly, or monthly.

On average, a first-year student might get around $16 an hour, while a senior may be closer to $20.

A paid internship is competitive, though many internships only offer the minimum wage.

If you can’t secure the position you prefer, consider a non-paid internship.

Types of Internships

There are multiple types of internships available.

It’s essential to be aware of your options and the benefits of each.

1. Part-Time vs. Full-Time

A full-time internship typically requires a workday of eight to nine hours.

You will almost always spend your days in the office or on-site.

A part-time internship requires between four to five hours a day, and you won’t necessarily be in the office all the time.

Many work-from-home opportunities are available in the form of a part-time internship.

2. General Internships

A general internship is less focused than internship for a particular department.

The intern has to help support daily business operations under a direct manager.

This will include clerical duties and administrative tasks such as writing meeting reports, helping to organize company events, data processing, and shadowing different team members.

3. Summer Internships

A summer internship lasts eight to twelve weeks after the traditional school year ends.

Typically, summer internships start between May and June, depending on when the student finishes school, and continue until August.

4. Apprentice-Type Internships

Internships are different from apprenticeships in that they are usually short-term, part-time, or full-time roles for someone that wants to experience working in a particular industry.

Apprenticeships can last more than a year, a d they are full-time positions where the individual gains hands-on experience and training.

Learning and working go hand-in-hand in an apprenticeship.

At some point during the week, for a specified set of hours, there will be an educational component to the work you do, where the apprentice learns valuable skills through competent instruction.

An apprentice-style internship combines aspects of both and would be longer than the typical internship and have more of a focus on education than usual.

5. Research Internships

A research internship means that you’re combining your master’s thesis with research for the sponsor organization.

You get to develop your resume with practical experience while also getting an excellent employment opportunity afterward.

6. Remote Internships

One of the newer types of internships to become available is remote internships or virtual internships.

You rarely have to step foot in the office, as you will do most of your work from home.

You need to be organized, have reliable W-iFi, and manage your breaks well.

What is Internship Management?

Internship management is when multiple administrators or just a single administrator across various departments and schools supervise the interns in a particular location or for the university as a whole.

These officials may manage interns within a specific major like social work or communications, or there might be an overseer of everyone if the institution is small.

An internship coordinator will assign students to the internship, see if they’re meeting milestones, get feedback from the intern host, and create customized evaluation surveys for the intern’s supervisor and the interns themselves.

3 Ways to Find an Internship

Here are three ways to find the perfect internship opportunity:

1. Use Campus Resources

Students can take advantage of the resources on campus by going to a career fair and engaging in recruiting events on campus.

Sometimes students can find job boards in different departments.

The employers listed there are already open to bringing in students from your school.

Also, don’t hesitate to ask an advisor in career services if they have any suggestions for you.

2. Look Online

The internet has the largest database of internships where students can search for positions of interest.

The Muse, for example, is a site where students can look for jobs and internships that feature the company’s profile so that the potential intern can learn more about the agency.

If you have an idea of which field you want to go into, you can type in a specific phrase such as “journalism internship.”

By narrowing it down, you don’t feel overwhelmed by all the choices available.

Starting with a clear objective is always best, and you can explore as you get more comfortable.

3. Network With Others

Tell others what you’re searching for in an internship.

Students who may already be in positions could potentially help, or those searching like you will know to be on the lookout.

Visit local organizations and ask for their card and ask them if they have any openings.

Consult with alumni that have already done what you’re trying to do, and ask them for tips on how to get where they are.

Finding a mentor is even better!

The guidance they offer is priceless, and a lot of the time, alumni from LinkedIn are usually more than willing to have email correspondence to help you out.

Wrapping Up

What is an internship?

It’s a path to help you understand which industries you want to delve into after graduation.

Whether paid or unpaid, full-time or part-time, there are many opportunities and benefits to participating in an internship to further your employment horizon.

Head to MyJobSearch today to find an internship that suits you!

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