Nine Practical Benefits of Completing an Internship
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated December 1, 2022
Published September 29, 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
An internship provides the opportunity to try out a new career or job duties while still learning, without the pressure of permanent job placement. Understanding the benefits of internships can help you determine if this is a worthwhile pursuit as part of your career path. In this article, we discuss the definition of an internship, review nine key benefits of working as an intern and answer frequently asked questions about these important opportunities.
Why pursue an internship?
An internship allows you to try out various career positions and improve skills learned in school while studying to complete an academic program. Depending on your post-secondary program, completing an internship can also be a requirement for graduation. An internship is an introductory job position within an organization as part of a formal practicum or training program. Typically offered to undergraduate or graduate students, these can be paid or unpaid positions depending on the terms of employment. They will usually be temporary and last for a specified period of time.
An internship provides a real-world situation within a company to gain hands-on work or research experience in your chosen field. Many companies use these programs as an opportunity to recruit recent graduates and build their talent pool. Once the organization and intern have gotten to know one another, the company often extends permanent offers to internship candidates they saw potential in.
Examples of the benefits of internships
Internships are unique opportunities with several crucial benefits, that include:
1. Exploring a career path
Because an internship is a temporary position, it provides an opportunity for you to explore various career paths without a permanent commitment. While completing your academic program in a particular area, you may not know exactly which career path to pursue long term. For example, if you're completing a bachelor's degree in computer science, many career options are available. Applying for an internship in several different computer science jobs can help you narrow down the type of work and environment you enjoy most.
2. Gaining work experience
Another benefit of completing an internship is gaining hands-on work experience within your chosen field. Companies posting for job candidates look for a combination of academic training and real-world experience to ensure job seekers can perform the position's duties. When starting your career, you likely don't have the experience that many organizations require. By working in an internship position, you have the opportunity to complete duties and practice skills, while receiving valuable feedback and guidance from experienced employees. This adds critical skills and experience to your resume.
3. Developing research experience
If your chosen career path is within the field of science, an internship can provide you with valuable research experience in a laboratory setting. A research lab internship allows you to practice your scientific research skills while contributing to the real-world research being conducted. Some permanent scientific research positions have a requirement for candidates to complete an internship before being considered for the position. This type of role also allows you to experience doing research in a work environment so you can be sure that you enjoy it before pursuing it further.
4. Refining your skill set
When working in an internship, you continue to develop the skills you learned theoretically in your post-secondary program. Working hands-on under the direct supervision of experienced professionals gives you valuable feedback and guidance on your strengths and weaknesses. Because of your position as an intern, the company and supervisors expect you to still be learning. You can try out new skills, put theories that you learned into practice, and be mentored by others in the profession in a flexible and understanding environment. Being open to accepting advice and guidance can make a significant difference in refining your skills.
5. Build a network of like-minded professionals
Working as an intern is a great way to build and develop a network of like-minded professionals. One of the most effective ways of learning about job opportunities is through word of mouth and networking. When you complete an internship, it introduces you to career professionals within your chosen field who are decision-makers. An internship can lead to learning about permanent job openings or being recommended for a position now or in the future.
6. Securing strong recommendations and references
Another key benefit of internships is that you can secure strong recommendations and references for future positions. When you work as an intern, you work side-by-side with experienced individuals who learn about your work skills, expertise, and personality traits. This experience allows these professionals to provide you with a solid recommendation for other jobs, either within their organization or as a professional reference. In addition, they can answer specific questions related to your work ethic, enthusiasm, and development of skills as an intern. Having professional references is a critical element for job seeking.
7. Finding a mentorship
One of the excellent benefits that can develop because of an internship is finding and building a mentor relationship with an experienced professional. When you work as an intern, you are exposed to various tasks, responsibilities, and jobs. You will also be introduced to many individuals who can significantly affect your career goals and development. Finding a mentor who will help you with your professional growth is invaluable, and an internship can allow this kind of relationship to develop naturally. The key is to stay open-minded, ask questions, and remain positive and enthusiastic.
Related: How to Find a Mentor Step by Step
8. Developing confidence
As an intern, you can try out newly learned skills in a safe environment before beginning work at a permanent job. Because the organization expects you to be learning during your internship, you may place less pressure on yourself and therefore develop confidence in your skills and knowledge. By trying on new abilities in an internship, you gain self-assurance and eventually move into a permanent position where you are able to be confident at work.
9. Securing a permanent position
Although not guaranteed, an internship position has the potential to turn into a permanent job. Many companies use an internship program as a recruitment strategy to find a pool of talented candidates. Being selected as an intern allows you to present your best work ethic and enthusiasm for the job. Often, if an organization is happy with an intern, they can extend a formal offer for permanent employment or consider the individual later on when a position opens.
FAQs about internships
Below are several frequently asked questions about internships that can provide more information as you decide if one of these positions is right for you:
What is the difference between an apprenticeship and an internship?
There are two significant differences between an apprenticeship and an internship. First, an apprenticeship is a commonly used term within the skilled trades or occupational environment, whereas business, science, and academic settings typically use the term internship. Second, an internship allows the individual to try on several tasks or positions to see what they enjoy, where their strengths are, and what path they want to pursue. An apprenticeship, on the other hand, is based on the idea that you've already clearly selected a career path. The apprentice learns directly under the guidance and tutoring of a master in their chosen field.
What is the difference between a paid and unpaid internship?
Depending on the academic program and organizations that accept interns, the company can offer the position as paid or unpaid. Many post-secondary programs require students to complete an internship as a requirement for graduation. Often, the price of the program includes this placement and some are unpaid opportunities while in school. Other academic programs encourage students to pursue internships during summer vacation or part-time during their program of study. In these instances, the company sponsoring the intern will often pay the individual for their time and effort while they learn and perfect their skills.
When is a good time to look for an internship?
You can't start looking for an internship too early. If you are in a four-year bachelor's degree program, give yourself the first semester to get into the flow of university learning. The second semester of your freshman year is a great time to research internship programs that interest you and align with your chosen field of study. Create a list of companies and organizations with internship programs that you can apply to, and check job boards like Indeed for current intern jobs. In addition, many student career centres at post-secondary institutions have internship opportunities listed so this is another great place to begin your search.
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