You most likely already know what an Internship is. For those who don't, an internship is typically a position at a company reserved for students. Internships allow these student workers to gain some 'real world' experience while (hopefully) earning some money.
Paid Vs Unpaid Internships
Some Internships are paid, and some are not. I think unpaid internships are exploitive of young people and should be banned in New Zealand. Employers are getting an economic benefit from your work, so why shouldn't you be paid? Unpaid internships also disadvantage candidates who don't have parents who can pay their rent and buy them a box of beers every weekend. When you are an unpaid intern, you are classed as a volunteer, so you can say see ya later to any employee rights you think you might be entitled to. If a company offers you an unpaid internship, you should really consider if that company is the right choice for you. Do they really "value" their employees like they say on their website….. hmm, maybe not.
You can rest assured that any internship you see listed on JobNow is paid. We don't allow them otherwise. Now that I have got my unpaid internship rant out of the way (I feel much better, thanks for asking), let's look at some of the benefits of an internship.
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If you haven't had a job before your Internship, this will give you your first taste of work life. You will start dealing with real customers and real problems. You will make your first mistake (one that hopefully doesn't cost the company millions of dollars), and you will have your first 'so this is the rest of my life moment. You will also have Friday drinks to look forward to, so your small talk game will get a whole bunch better.
Once you start working, you will realise you have less time for what you enjoy doing outside of work. That doesn't mean you have to give these things up; it just means you will have to be more organised and develop routines that allow you to keep doing these activities. Whether that is getting up early in the morning, so you get a gym sesh done before work or making sure you get your meal prep sorted on Sunday nights, so you have lunches for the week ahead (trust me, you don't want to be buying your lunch every day from the office cafe). Learning to develop solid routines is an excellent habit to get into and will only benefit you in the years ahead.
"It's not what you know; it's who you know." We have all heard this before, and to be honest, I don't think truer words have ever been spoken. Networking is a crucial aspect of building a successful career. We all know someone who can barely tie their shoelaces but has an excellent job. Chances are, they are good at networking. When you start your Internship, you will have dealings with people much more experienced than you. These may be your colleagues or your clients. That very client could be your future employer, so it's essential to make a good impression and develop strong relationships over time. There are many networking benefits from getting new ideas on how to do business to gain access to new job opportunities, and it's never too early to start.
Building Your CV
It is common for employers to say they are looking for "experience' on most job listings. Even if it is for an entry-level role….madness! If you have done an Internship before joining the workforce proper, this gives you a significant advantage over candidates who haven't. Employers will like that you have put in the effort to get yourself an internship and be serious about developing your career. Even if your Internship was doing a job that isn't related to a job you apply for in the future, it still shows that you have had experience in a work environment and can bring some knowledge. There are always transferable skills that you develop performing a job that you can apply to a future career.
Do I Need to Do an Internship?
Without question, Internships are valuable to have on your CV, and many benefits come from doing them. Do you need to do an internship to be successful in your career? Absolutely not. It does, however, depend on what industry you're looking to get into. If you want to become a lawyer, then doing an internship makes it a hell of a lot easier to get your first gig at a firm. Suppose you're at Uni and have no idea what you want to do once you finish your studies (this was me), then no need to panic. Most graduates get their first job at a company without an internship and work their way up from there.
If you are worried about the lack of experience on your CV, then another great thing you can do is complete online courses. They are a great way to upskill, and again, employers like to see the extra effort you are showing to better yourself. Give our article a read on the 5 best free online courses and see what lessons you can complete today to improve your CV.