Entering the labour market definitely seems to be harder if we are going to enter the area we want to remain in. It is considerably easier to begin as a waiter than as a Frontend Developer in a rapidly growing start-up. You finish secondary school, graduate from university, or try to get retrained, and ask yourself how you can get into this big world with your little amount of experience.
And here you will come across internship offers. Over the last year I have learnt a few important things about them, that I am going to share with you.
Let me introduce myself…
I started looking for my first professional work experience in my senior class. I acted for the public, made my own projects and events, but I needed some new space for development and possibilities to earn money for my studies. I knew I wanted to work in Social Media (a real Gen Z kid), as this brought me the biggest satisfaction and came with ease. Though I did not feel competent enough to try my hand at a “real job”, I applied for a 3-month internship. History came full circle – a year later, as an intern, I was responsible for the communication side of the next edition of the same internship.
During that time, I learnt a few important things about internships. Here they are.
Not all interns are the same
Interns can differ in position, place of work, mode of work, and duration, but one of the key elements is the recruitment process. Depending on the position, recruitments can be conducted in three ways – typically on the basis of a CV, portfolio and job interview, or on the basis of a recruitment task, or in the form of a competition. One thing is certain – in the vast majority of cases, recruiters will try to check your competences in the best possible way. Remember that a lack of professional experience makes recruiters unable to assess your level of knowledge and therefore you can often be asked to demonstrate your abilities and skills. For example, while applying for my internship, I had to complete specific tasks at each stage of the recruitment – one of them was to plan a project that would solve a given issue.
Another important aspect is whether an internship is payable. This is more complex than it may seem, because there are unpaid internships, paid internships and internships where employers get paid. It happens that employers offer internships that interns have to pay for, if they know that an employed person will mainly learn and gain basic experience, e.g. internships for psychologists that may cost even PLN 4,000 or 1395 euro.
You have successfully gone through the recruitment process – congratulations! You sign a contract and… you find out about the internship coordinator. Of course, you have already heard about this, but it’s something you didn’t pay much attention to. What is an internship coordinator and what is their role? Sometimes it is not big and means just delegating tasks and checking they are properly performed. The essence of the internship coordinator is to make you familiar with the life of the company and your job, present the processes in place and technologies, introduce you to your workmates, and most importantly, supervise your development and wellbeing, and make sure you enjoy your job. Your internship coordinator is the first person you turn to if you encounter an issue that you haven’t been able to solve for a while.
During some internships, interns are assigned with non-complicated tasks, e.g. preparing simple reports, making phone calls, sending emails and attending meetings, but there are internships where you can set out your stall. At the beginning, tasks are easy and basic in order to check what you already know, what you are best at and what needs improving. Then, you will be involved in the company’s projects. But there are exceptions where you are thrown in at the deep end – for example, you get your own projects or participate in important meetings.
For this reason, if you want to avoid disappointment with your internship, it is worth asking employees or previous interns about their experiences and feelings. Good research helps avoid future disappointments. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!
No matter whether your internship is going to last 3 months, half a year or one year, at some point you will realise that time flies really quickly. Pay attention to what your place in a team is, how you are getting on with them, and how you are perceived. Also think where you see yourself after your internship. Maybe you would like to stay in this company or look for something else? The closer to the end of the internship, the more attention you should pay to the question about your plans after your internship and for the future. It is also a good moment to ask for written references, confirming your abilities and skills on LinkedIn, or completing documents to have your internship credited by your university, if possible.
The end and the beginning
Finally, the day will come when your internship is over. But this does not have to be the end of your adventure with a given company – it can turn out that your work has been appreciated by your team and employer, and they will offer you a permanent job. If not, and you know that this job is for you, take part in another recruitment process. You already have your first professional experience, which gives you an advantage over other applicants. You are ready to get your first real job!
What are the benefits of an internship?
First of all, experience and the possibility of acquiring new competences and reaffirm existing ones. From now on, your CV will be enriched with an entry that will be an attention grabber for future job interviews, you will be more certain of your skills and conscious of the things that need to be worked on. You will make contacts and get to know people who can recommend you at the next company. What is also important, you will check if a given job is for you and learn how to socialise with your team. You will know what to pay attention to when choosing your future workplace.
From my perspective, I can say that a good internship can be a good ladder to your dream job. Even 3 months are enough to show your knowledge, skills and involvement, and taking part in future job interviews is much easier.
- An internship is an excellent way to either begin or change your career path.
- Diverse offers make it possible to find a tailor-made internship – the secret is just to look for it.
- Show your best side, as time flies quickly, and these 3 months or half a year can significantly change your life.
- Create a vision for yourself – after all, your internship is not an end in itself.
- Thanks to an internship, I got a job at Stepwise! 😉