Two Steps Ahead – What to Expect from an Internship
Internships can be the gateway to achieving your career goals - and here’s why!
It’s a mistake to see internships as low-value stop-gaps before someone’s “real career” begins. Internships are, for many people, the gateway to new horizons and the beginning of a trail of experience that will grow wider as it furthers. Passionate and driven young people are usually those who volunteer for these programmes, out of sheer will to gain skills in a given area.
Why are apprenticeships good for young people?
Firstly, internships are a good bet for young talent in that they are able to begin their career and shape their skills in an area of their choice. Furthermore, it’s their chance to put what they’ve learned into practice, transferring classroom-taught skills into real life scenarios.
The stereotype that interns are lower in value when compared to other employees is starting to fade. Companies are investing more in training their staff and finding new talent to freshen up their workforce. Internships are real jobs in real companies. Interns are fully integrated members of the team and work alongside established staff on real business projects: it’s no longer ‘pretend’ like university projects, and life and tasks during an internship will often be business-critical!
Yet another thing worth remembering is that employers often require professional experience from young people who are fresh out of university. This can be particularly challenging and might halt the start of a promising career for young talent. Internships offer the chance to gain valuable work skills within a company, something that future employers will undoubtedly be looking for. On top of this, interns are also able to further increase their abilities through part-time degrees or training courses provided by their employer.
What shouldn’t an internship be?
While the notion of interns being low-value is fading fast in the professional world, there may still be places where interns aren’t taken as seriously as they should be. So, when preparing internship programmes, it’s important to also consider what they should not be.
A solid internship programme will not make participants perform low-effort tasks or expect them to fill in the gaps where established employees are overworked. In fact, interns’ motivation should be nurtured so it remains as high as possible – and this only happens when they are challenged with tasks that value their potential and seek to further increase it.
As with all projects, internship programmes must have clearly-defined objectives that participants should achieve by the end of its duration. Lacking a clear view of what is expected from the intern will only work against their development. The interns won’t know exactly where to focus their efforts and the mentors won’t have clear guidance on the tasks or skills that they should emphasise the most. Creating a list of goals is key to a successful internship programme, both for the participants and the company itself.
Furthermore, it’s crucial to be completely transparent about these programmes. Too often we hear about internships that promised the earth but ended up delivering nothing more than a grain of sand. Baiting interns into programmes that don’t actually meet the goals specified isn’t going to help anyone.
What should you expect?
Although internship programmes vary depending on the company offering them and the industry in which they’re located, there are several points that we’d like to highlight.
Internship programmes serve the purpose of providing hands-on experience to young talent. From participating in real-life business-critical project tasks; being involved in situations taking place in real-life contexts; experimenting with new tools, frameworks and methodologies; to learning the theory behind the like the industries and the company itself… Internships are an ocean of opportunities to grow and prepare one’s mindset to a life within the professional world.
Internships also put people in a scenario which is, more often than not, something they haven’t experienced before. This applies both to the technical aspects we’ve already mentioned and to the more social side of professional life. Not only will an intern’s technical knowledge improve considerably from contact with real-life situations, but the intern’s social skills and communication capabilities will also improve due to their exposure to different people and the kinds of contexts they’ll be dealing with. Skills such as negotiation and arguing effectively and respectfully will see significant development as interns will be required to experience situations which demand these skills – even if it’s only among teammates or in an intern-mentor exchange.
To wrap up, but just as important as all the other points above, interns will be offered the chance to immerse themselves in the company’s culture up close and personally. Saying an intern is a fully-integrated member of the team only works if it encompasses all aspects of working life, not just the work itself. Internal events, teambuilding activities, coffee breaks, workshops, all things that make up for the company’s culture should be available for all interns to engage with and try for themselves. After all, interns are great professionals in waiting, so we want to make sure we nurture them right from the start!
In the end, the most amazing internships are those that prepare students for the career path they’ve always hoped to follow after graduating. And that’s why we offer our very own internship programmes! Want to learn more about them or fancy hearing what some of our previous interns have said about their experiences on our programme? Take a look at our internships page!