An internship is a short-term (paid or unpaid) work experience that takes place in a professional setting. Internships typically have a specified commencement and completion date and are monitored by an experienced professional in the field. Here are some common questions about internships.
Should I apply to any internship opportunity I come across?
To make the most of any internship, it is best to look for opportunities that are directly related to your prospective career or your major field of study.
How will I benefit from doing an internship?
A summer internship offers several valuable benefits. When you do an internship, not only do you gain valuable experience before you graduate, you also get the opportunity to apply knowledge gained from your academic program to real on-the-job situations. This will give your future employment prospects a tremendous boost.
An internship also gives you the opportunity to meet and interact with professionals in the field who will mentor and guide you. They’ll even provide solid recommendation letters attesting to your work ethics when you are looking for employment after you graduate.
Another benefit of doing an internship (check out our guide to internships here) is that it allows you to test tentative career choices. There’s nothing like getting a first-hand experience to determine whether a certain career path is in fact the right fit for you.
What will I actually do during an internship?
Your exact responsibilities will depend on your field of study as well as the organization you are interning with. Different companies have different expectations, which will be explained to you clearly before you commit to the internship. The jobs you are expected to do while interning in a law firm will be quite different from the jobs you perform while interning in a mechanical engineering company.
Where can I find internship opportunities?
The internet is a good place to start your search for internship opportunities. There are several websites that collate information about available internships in various fields. However, while these sites offer a wealth of information on internship opportunities, you must expand your search parameters.
Career counselors often get to know about unadvertised opportunities. They are only too happy to pass on the details to interested students. In addition to your career counselor, it also does not hurt to ask family and friends. The classified ads in the local newspapers are another great place to discover some unexpected internship openings.
How do I apply for an internship?
Applying for an internship is just like applying for any other job. Every advertised opportunity will usually provide information letting prospective applicants know how to apply. Whether it is mentioned or not, your application must be accompanied by a cover letter and a complete, professional resume highlighting your academic history, work experience, and relevant extracurricular activities.
Will I have to go for an interview?
This depends on the company that is hiring interns. Most companies will hold at least one round of internship interviews in order to select the most qualified individual. Some may be over the phone, others might be in-person.
Will I get paid during an internship?
Most internships are paid opportunities. At the very least, you can expect to get paid minimum hourly wages during your internship period. Some companies pay interns a higher hourly rate. On the other hand, some unpaid internships may offer you academic credit in lieu of monetary compensation.
How does doing an internship for college credit work?
Universities vary greatly in terms of their policies in this regard. In general, your internship must be directly related to your chosen major. You will be required to put in a specific number of hours over the course of the semester in order to earn college credits. If you wish to earn college credit for your internship, you will have to first get approval from your academic department or from a relevant professor.
Does an internship for college credit work differently than a paid internship?
Yes, the guidelines for paid internships are different from those of internships for credit.
In paid internships (not for credit), the responsibilities and expectations vary considerably from one employer to the other. Every company will draw up their own contract detailing your responsibilities, the number of work hours you are expected to put in, and how much you will get paid during that time.
In internships for credit, you will have to complete a specific number of hours as stated in your college guidelines in order to receive credit for the internship. Additionally, you will be required to meet certain criteria laid out by a faculty member who acts as the internship sponsor.
Which type of internship opportunity will look better on my work resume?
When you complete an internship, you will receive a letter from your employer stating that you possess the relevant skills and experience in the field. The letter will not state whether you completed your internship for credit or whether you got paid for it, so it does not matter. What is important for your resume is to get a letter from your employer recommending you as a hard worker and a reliable employee.
Is it better to do an internship or to take up a job during my summer break? Does it make any difference at all?
Yes, there is a difference between doing an internship and taking up a summer job. With an internship, you would get some form of training under the guidance and mentorship of an experienced professional in the field. This will help you get a first-hand look at a prospective career path.
While a summer job will also help you get valuable work-experience, there is no formal training or supervision involved. Some of the more common summer jobs involve working at a resort, summer camp, restaurant, retail store, or theme park. These jobs are usually entry-level jobs. The main goal of taking on these jobs is to earn some money during the summer break.
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