Graduate Internships

Graduate Internships

If you’re a current student or a graduate, an internship is an excellent way to gain more experience and get you ready for the world of work after university. Most internships last anywhere from a few weeks to an entire year and can sometimes lead to a permanent position if you perform well. An internship is the perfect opportunity for anyone to gain experience, from university first years wanting to get to grips with an industry, or graduates seeking more work experience for their CV.

You’ll find that most organisations rightly pay their interns for the hard work they complete, even if this may be a minimum wage. So, completing an internship is a great way to become more work ready for your career after university, while earning some cash. You may find that some internships are unpaid, but, in a majority of placements (especially with the lengthier contracts) you can expect to be paid at least for your expenses, including lunch and travel costs.

An internship will grant you useful industry-related training, related to your degree or in a role you may be interested in, and can be an excellent first step in building valuable contacts to ready you for your future career. At their very root, an internship will simply inform your decision about if the job is a good fit for you as a person.

Internships are also a good way for an employer to advertise their graduate roles – either a job or a scheme. A graduate who had a good experience at their company is more likely to return as they know they enjoy working for the company. Often, if a graduate role is available, an employer will offer their full-time opportunities to their high performing interns for when they complete university. Think of an internship as a way to find out the reality behind a role, your career plans may change after you’ve spent some time in the industry up close to the action.

You may find that an internship comes in the form of a year in industry in a relevant company as part of your university degree. This normally takes place in your third year and is an excellent way to get involved in your degree sector and build on the academic theory you’ve learnt at university, while developing the soft skills that will strengthen your employability. It’s important to remember that you may be expected to write essays or reports about the experience, after all, this year will contribute to your qualification so you’ll still need to be on top of your academic game.

Graduates who have relevant work experience (or any experience at all) are highly prized by employers as they will expect you to possess many of the qualities that make you an excellent employee after learning on-the-job. Even the internships that may only last a few weeks will equip you with some of the transferable skills that appear great on a CV.

To aid you in this stage of your career path, we have collated some useful answers to the popular questions people often have regarding internships to help you decide if an internship is the best option for you.

Will I be paid on my internship?

In the past few years, there have been many discussions about internships and if they should be paid. Paid internships are incredibly competitive, even with most only paying the minimum wage. If you’re considering taking an internship, it’s important to contemplate the benefits of gaining experience, against any potential financial issues this may cause if it is unpaid. Luckily for most cash-strapped university students (we sadly know what it’s like), most unpaid internships are only short-term opportunities which might make the undertaking of an unpaid opportunity more feasible.

Despite this, huge numbers of employers are recognising the need to compensate their short-term workers for their time, wanting all recruits to be on the same equal footing even if some would be able to support themselves without receiving a salary. Though some opportunities are fully salaried, most firms are willing to pay for their interns’ expenses, including their lunch and travel costs.

Can I get a job after my internship?

For a lot of employers, seeking previous interns for their graduate roles is the way forward. Not only will they already have experience working alongside others at the company, but as an employer can be sure that they boast the essential qualities for the position. Hiring those who have already completed an internship at the firm also benefits the employer by reducing recruitment and training expenses. Thus, employers have a huge amount of incentive to hire well-performing interns after they graduate university. When looking at internships, it may be useful to consider companies that you have an interest in working for once you are qualified as this can greatly improve your prospects.

What can I do to make the most of my internship?

To get you started, your employers may give you a few easier tasks to complete, such as basic administration jobs or tea-making (a crucial part of the office environment), to get you used to the workplace. However, showing that you are enthusiastic and dedicated to the role will encourage them to give you greater responsibilities.

At its core, an internship will allow you to talk to your experienced colleagues about the type of work they do and help gain an insight into the role you can expect in the future if you choose to pursue that career. You may find it useful to discuss what you would like to experience from the internship with your employer, they then will be able to direct you towards the people that can help steer you in the right direction towards your dream role.

How can internship differ to a graduate job or scheme?

An internship differs to a graduate job or scheme in multiple ways. Whereas an internship is primarily aimed at undergraduate students in their penultimate year (though options can span across all years of university) or recent graduates who are looking for more experience, a graduate job is targeted at those who have already left university and are seeking a permanent role. Interns are often unpaid or receive little financial compensation for their work, instead working in exchange for valuable experience with an employer.

A graduate job or scheme will always be paid a full salary, with some lucrative positions offered by some companies to their graduate recruits. For some graduate jobs or schemes, experience may be essential; even though you may desire to jump straight into paid work, an internship may be necessary at first in order to get yourself ready for the right graduate career. For more information about graduate roles, click here.

What are the benefits of an internship?

The major benefit of an internship is the experience that you can gain from the time, especially if you can earn some cash while you’re at it. Not only will you get first-hand industry experience in a field you want to work in, but you can also develop the soft skills or commercial awareness that employers seek on their prospective employees CV. So, not only will you gain the work experience that can help open doors across the sector that you wish to work for (or even others), you could also find that if you impress your employer, they may even offer you a permanent position in the future.

What is the application process like for an internship?

When applying to an internship, you should approach this in the same way you would apply to a job. Your CV should be up to scratch and your interview skills flawless in order to demonstrate that you are a competent employee. Beginning with a good first impression will let employers know that you take their company seriously and so will encourage them to offer you a position after the internship is over. You may find that the process is a lot like the one necessary for a graduate job: assessment centres, online psychometric tests and video interviews; and so can help you prepare for what is to come when university is over.

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