The value of the internship and how to succeed.

Searching for a job can seem like the worst process in the world. It is tiresome, ego destroying, and seemingly endless.

We probably have all received the standard job rejection: “Thank you for your application. Unfortunately, we are looking for someone with more appropriate qualifications and skills.” All companies, even small or relatively unsuccessful ones, seek candidates with experience. Because the job market is so competitive now, and many open positions receive tens to hundreds of applications, lack of work experience can make it extremely difficult to break through, especially in industries that you may be passionate about.

That brings me to the value of student or postgraduate internships: they offer work experience and the opportunities to expand your network. Many students or post-grads seek internships in order to gain experience in fields attuned to their interests.  

I will note that internships are complex on their own and can be a luxury to a sector of the population: basically, those who can afford to work for free or low-wage positions – although there are definitely internships out there that pay a premium pay (Highest paying internships in America). Simply put, such opportunities do not exist for many people, specifically those who belong to lower-income brackets who do not have parents or other benefactors that can subsidize the cost of living. There is a reason that many upper-level positions in companies are not diverse: because opportunities do not allow for diversity.

We could argue about the morality of internships in a million different articles, but the fact of the matter is that they continue to exist and do serve as a useful tool for many young workers who are willing to get out there and get one, especially those without the work experience necessary to attain full-time entry-level positions and more.

Once you snag the internship, here are some tips for interns on how to survive and make the most of your temporary positions.

  1. You should know that internships are kind of designed to be exploitative. They do not often involve performing interesting tasks (although this depends on the company and their culture). Most lower-level positions involve filling out repetitive forms, or seemingly simple research tasks. Although they are mundane, these tasks are instrumental to the ways companies work. You have to start at the bottom to get anywhere near the top anyways.

  2. Learn how to work around financial restraints. For many, this seems and can actually be an impossible hurdle. However, many universities and colleges offer scholarships or funding for internships to assist, if not cover, costs of living. These typically involve applications, so find out the deadlines and make sure to complete them on time.

  3. Request feedback from your supervisors. Whether or not you are being offered a stipend, you are still a valuable and useful tool for the company. In exchange for being hired at any wage, they are offering to boost your resume and build your skills. Thus, a comprehensive and regular performance review is necessary and important. Talk to your supervisor if it is not a standard part of your internship already.

  4. Form mentorships. One of the most important things one can gain from internships are the network connections. In today’s competitive work environment, connections truly matter so forming meaningful working relationships with adults in the company is instrumental.

  5. Learn when to walk away. Internships, especially those that offer little or no stipends, are designed to help you in your career. If you feel that it is not helping you progress, then it is important to walk away. Internships are also not meant to last forever, the company can either hire you full time or you’ve come to a point where you can start apply for full-time work elsewhere.

Many internships have a lot of benefits and perks. Hope this helps and thanks for reading! Looking to chat about your internship, contact team@womenonwork.org