By Eleen Korir

What is internship?

An internship refers to a temporary work arrangement where individuals, often students or recent graduates, work at an organization or company to gain practical experience in a particular field. Internships can be paid or unpaid, and they typically last for a fixed duration, which can range from a few weeks to several months.

The primary purpose of an internship is to provide individuals with hands-on learning opportunities, allowing them to apply the knowledge and skills acquired in their academic studies to real-world situations. Interns work under the guidance and supervision of experienced professionals, gaining insights into the industry, company culture, and day-to-day operations.

They are valuable steppingstones that facilitate your transition from an educational setting to a professional career. They equip you with the skills, experiences, and connections necessary to thrive in the workforce.

Why internships?

Here are five compelling reasons why you should consider taking up internships:

Real-world experience: Internships provide you with practical, hands-on experience in your chosen field of study or career path. Unlike classroom learning, internships expose you to the day-to-day challenges and tasks that professionals face. This experience can help you understand the actual demands of the job and give you a taste of what it’s like to work in the industry.

Skill development: During an internship, you have the opportunity to acquire and enhance valuable skills that are relevant to your chosen field. These skills can range from technical abilities to soft skills like communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and time management. The practical application of these skills in a professional setting can be invaluable when building your career.

Networking opportunities: Internships allow you to connect with professionals and experts in your industry. Building a network of contacts can open doors to future job opportunities, mentorship, and industry insights. Many internships also offer networking events and workshops where you can interact with other interns and professionals.

Resume enhancement: Having internships on your resume can make you stand out to potential employers. Employers value candidates with practical experience, and internships demonstrate your commitment and interest in the field. Even if you’re a recent graduate or still in school, having relevant internship experience can give you an edge over other applicants.

Career exploration and clarity: Internships provide a chance to test the waters in a specific industry or role. It’s an opportunity to see if the field aligns with your interests and career goals. You might discover new passions, confirm your career choice, or even realize that a particular path isn’t what you expected. Such insights can guide you in making informed decisions about your future career trajectory.

Other benefits of taking internships include Industry Insights, building confidence, professional feedback, understanding company culture, mentorship opportunities, potential job offers. Overall, internships offer a unique chance to bridge the gap between academic knowledge and practical application, allowing you to grow both professionally and personally. They play a vital role in shaping your career and setting you up for success in the
competitive job market.

Additionally, internships are not just about what you can gain; they also offer value to the organizations you work for. Interns often bring fresh perspectives, new ideas, and enthusiasm to the workplace, making them an asset to companies and institutions. Whether you are a student or a career changer, internships can be a stepping stone to a successful and fulfilling professional journey.

Tips for looking for an internship.

Looking for internships can be an exciting but sometimes challenging process. Here are some steps to help you effectively search for internships:

Define Your Goals: Determine what type of internship you’re looking for, which field or industry you want to explore, and the specific skills you want to develop during your internship.

Use Online Job Boards: Check popular online job platforms like LinkedIn, Indeed, Glassdoor, and intern-specific websites like Intern Match, Internships.com, or Chegg Internships. Use relevant keywords to narrow down your search.

Company Websites: Visit the career pages of companies you are interested in to see if they have any internship opportunities available. Many companies post internships directly on their websites.

College Career Services: Reach out to your college or university’s career services office. They often have a list of available internships, connections with employers, and resources to assist you in your search.

Networking: Utilize your network to find internship opportunities. Talk to professors, classmates, family, friends, or any professional connections you have. Networking can often lead to hidden or unadvertised internship openings.

Career Fairs: Attend job fairs and career events hosted by your college, local organizations, or industry-specific associations. These events are excellent
opportunities to meet employers and inquire about internships.

Industry Associations: Check out industry-specific associations’ websites, as they may have internship listings or resources for students looking to gain experience in that field.

Social Media: Follow companies and organizations you’re interested in on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. They may post internship openings on their social media accounts.

Contact Companies Directly: If you have a specific company in mind, even if they don’t have a posted internship opportunity, you can still reach out to them with a well-crafted cover letter and resume expressing your interest in interning with them.

Internship Programs: Some educational institutions, government agencies, and non-profit organizations offer structured internship programs. Research and apply for these programs, as they can provide valuable experiences.

Internship Placement Agencies: Consider working with internship placement agencies or career consultants that specialize in matching students with internships.

Prepare Application Materials: Before applying, ensure your resume, cover letter, and any other required documents are up-to-date, tailored to the specific internship, and reflect your skills and experiences.

Remember to start your search early, as internships can have specific application deadlines. Be persistent and proactive in your search, and don’t hesitate to reach out to people and companies that interest you.