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Internships.

Internships are short-term opportunities offered to current students or graduates which may lead to a permanent position when you’re no longer in full-time education depending on your performance in the role. Most internships can last anywhere from a couple of weeks to a full year.

Interns should be paid the National Minimum Wage for your age range in the UK if you’re performing the role of a worker. If you perform the same duties as other members of staff, work unsupervised or meet deadlines you’re classed as a worker, so you should get money in the bank – yay! Some internships are unpaid, however this should only be the case if you’re shadowing someone, and more often than not the employer will cover your lunch and travel costs.

Internships offer you valuable work experience in the industry related to your degree (or another if you choose not to pursue your subject after university) and may enable you to build a network of contacts that could be useful in your future career. Internships can often be confused with work placements and while you learn similar soft skills with an employer, they are different. Internships are normally done over the summer months, or after graduations whereas work placements can be known as a year-in-industry or placement year which often contribute towards your degree, either as a module or as additional academic credit.

Graduates who have relevant work experience from internships are highly valued by employers as they can ensure that you already have the crucial qualities that make you the perfect fit for their company. Even if an internship is only brief, it will equip you with transferable skills that look great on a CV.

Employers often use internships as an effective way to advertise their graduate roles (whether these are jobs or schemes), as it’s common for graduates to return to the company which hired them as interns. So it’s best to apply for an internship that you have real interest in!

To help you navigate this stage of your career journey, we have collected some useful questions and answers to help you find the best internship for you.

Internships are an excellent way to gain experience to help you get an insight into the career you may want.

FAQ

Will my internship be paid?

In recent years, there has been quite a bit of controversy about whether internships should be paid. Paid internships are highly competitive, even though many pay the minimum wage, and as an intern you should be paid if you are performing the same duties as other members of staff, work unsupervised and meet your deadlines. This is because you’re classed as a worker and should be paid minimum wage.

Some internships which are only work shadowing are unpaid, as you’re not classed as a worker. However, many employers now recognise the importance of providing funding to their interns, not wanting the best recruits to be held back by financial means. That means that though some internship opportunities are not fully financially compensated, many organisations may be willing to pay for your expenses, such as lunch and travel costs.

Will I get a job after an internship?

A Graduate Management Admission Council study found that many Fortune Global 100 Companies recognise the appeal of internships. According to the study, employers are likely to seek ex-interns for full time employment after an internship as they already have the necessary skills for their position.

Hiring previous interns can help reduce recruitment and training costs, thus giving employers an incentive to hire well-performing interns later on down the line. It’s important to consider this when looking at potential internship as the employer may be the one you return to in the future.

How do I make the most of my internship?

You may be given some easier jobs at first, such as basic administration duties, but by showing enthusiasm and a dedication to these small things may see your responsibilities expand. If you have a longer internship, you’ll also notice your responsibilities will increase as you’ll have more time to understand the business and own certain tasks and projects!

An internship gives you a chance to talk to your colleagues about the job they do, which can give you some insight into what sort of role you too might have in the future. Try and discuss what you hope to gain from the internship with your employer, they’ll then give you some tasks more suited to your desired career path.

How does an internship differ to a graduate job or scheme?

An internship is different to a graduate job. Internship can be useful for both undergraduate students (normally those in their penultimate year) and graduates, whereas a graduate job is purely targeted at those who have already left uni.

The work experienced gained in an internship may be necessary in gaining a graduate role - so if you want to secure a more permanent graduate job in the future, it may be useful to consider an internship first.

Why should I do an internship?

One of the main benefits of an internship is the experience you gain while potentially earning some money. Whether this is genuine commercial experience, picking up some soft skills or industry specific roles, it’ll make your CV more attractive to future employers who value these attributes in potential employees. Internships are great at improving your prospects at the company you have your experience in, and so benefit you immensely in getting your foot in the door!

What is the application process like?

You should approach the application process to an internship in the same way as applying for a job. This means you should ensure your CV is up to scratch and your interview skills are flawless to demonstrate your competence as a potential employee. Starting out on a good foot will let employers know you take their business seriously and may make them more likely to offer you future employment after your internship is over.

An internship is a great chance to test out different tasks and opportunities, to give you a better idea of the kind of role you may want to do.

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