Many graduates and school leavers find it difficult to secure work immediately after finishing university. A major reason for this is that employers are usually looking for prospective employees to have had some significant work experience . To get away from the show-me-your-work-history ‘nightmare’, students can gain the necessary experience through an internship program.
An internship is a period of work that gives people the opportunity to gain new skills and experience in a field of work they hope to go into .
In as much as experiential learning is vital for students, employers have a lot to gain as well. Here, we look at the benefits of an internship for both employers and students.
- The lack of experience problem is solved
While we shouldn’t disregard the value of a traditional university education with the associated theoretical knowledge, skills, and character-building you gain, acquiring practical experience through actual work is equally as important. Many employers will not spend too much time looking at the academic results on your CV in isolation – actual experience is what sets you apart from the crowd. Internships help give you this crucial edge in the job market.
- An opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge
Student internships are a good way to evaluate your academic concepts in comparison with the real working environment. Alongside also being a platform for the application of the knowledge you’ve gained through your studies, many work environments today are technologically intensive, and as an intern you’ll get exposure to this.
- Building networks
Internships not only give you a chance to improve your skills and gain experience, but you’ll also likely get exposure to senior business people. The networking that internships facilitate allow you to get advice from people in the industry and in the best-case scenario can even help you secure a long-term job.
- Trying out a career path
Deciding your career path can be a daunting prospect for many people. Internships are the perfect opportunity to try out a certain job, industry or company before fully committing to a long-term role as you’d normally only be an intern for a short period of time (from weeks to a few months). Often an internship may be run as a summer placement between finishing a year of study and starting the next.
But what are the benefits of student internships for business leaders and employers?
- The employer learns too
As well as there being many individual benefits for those taking up an internship, employers also get to learn a thing or two from their new recruits. Interns bring in a fresh pair of eyes and are thus able to challenge conventions within the place of work. Bringing in an intern with their new and innovative ideas can be a real boon for employers and the high energy they bring is likely to spread through the entire workforce.
- An extended interview
Job interviews can be deceptive for employers since there is limited time to assess every detail about an applicant’s inherent abilities and skills. Internships can take as long as three months in most educator-employer agreements so, in a way can be viewed as on-the-job long-term interviews to assess suitability to a full-time role.
- Enhance productivity without the long-term commitment
Historically, many interns have been given only low-level responsibilities however if you hire correctly, your interns should be able to do real jobs and deliver results – sometimes even better than experienced employees! An advantage here of giving interns proper responsibilities and duties is that you don’t have to commit for long-term employment, but still receive high quality work.
- Building relationships with educators
Universities often work closely with business owners to help their students find internships. Besides using internships as a way to introduce upcoming professionals to the inner workings of your company, you can use this commitment to take on interns to help forge relationships with educational organisations and reap the subsequent partnership benefits.