An internship goes a long way to getting your foot on the career ladder. You’ll have the chance to experience working in a particular industry, which could give you the edge you need to land your dream job. Here are five reasons to put getting an internship on your to-do list.
1. Take a sneak peak inside an industry
Internships are an ideal way to gain experience in a particular field and grow professionally, but without the pressure a full-time employee might have. For Jane Lee, who worked as an HR intern as part of her undergraduate degree in commerce and economics, an internship was the ideal transition between university and the workforce.
“It allowed me to gain insight into an industry of interest and become familiar with the daily life of the role,” she says. “I gained a better understanding of what is expected.”
Some students may think that an internship is only valuable if it's with a well-known company. But, no matter the size or type of organisation, the experience is incredibly valuable and gives you something to talk about in interviews.
2. Gain real-world skills
Stephen Chu gained a number of valuable skills from completing a formal internship placement.
“I really improved my organisational skills,” he says. “At uni, we have assignments with a long deadline, but in the placement I had lots of short-term goals to meet. I learnt to meet daily deadlines and had to have really clear communication, so that others in the team could meet their deadlines too.”
Stephen’s internship saw him looking for marketing opportunities within the business, which was something he wasn’t familiar with doing.
“Marketing and management were the focus, and while that’s not my particular area of expertise, it extended, challenged and excited me,” he says.
3. Improve your CV
For Stephen, having industry experience will make him stand out to potential employers.
“In this competitive market, all employers want some kind of experience. An internship in a corporate environment creates a definite advantage,” he says. “I could point to practical examples of how I worked with a team, how I used communication software, such as Slack, and how I organised my time efficiently.”
While Dimitrios Mitsidis found that tapping into the knowledge of the professionals he did his internship with had unexpected benefits for his CV.
“My internship helped my resume 100-fold,” he says. “Not only could I say that I had completed a placement, but the people I worked with helped me refine my CV. They gave me advice on things like what not to include and how to improve my resume so I would appeal to potential employers. That was invaluable.”
I really improved my organisational skills… I learnt to meet daily deadlines and had to have really clear communication, so that others in the team could meet their deadlines too.
4. Put your degree skills into practice
Undertaking a double degree, Dimitrios was unsure whether he would find an internship that complemented his undergraduate study.
“I actually had an internship that matched my study perfectly with engineering and commerce,” he says. “That was an added benefit I wasn’t expecting.” As part of his internship, Dimitrios was conducting market research looking at the 3D printing industry.
“It’s been the most applicable real-world skills course I’ve done,” he says. “It really was an extra special experience.”
5. Try something new
Part way through her degree Jane became interested in human resources, but found, “having little to no experience, and not doing a major in HR, became a big disadvantage when applying for HR positions”.
When Jane saw an HR internship was available, she applied with her future career in mind. Afterwards she found that many of the skills she gained at university, and through her internship, can be transferred across a range of industries.
"Some students may think that an internship is only valuable if it's with a well-known company. But, no matter the size or type of organisation, the experience is incredibly valuable and gives you something to talk about in interviews."
"For me, this will be a stepping stone into the start of my career,” she says.
The people I worked with helped me refine my CV. They gave me advice on things like what not to include and how to improve my resume so I would appeal to potential employers. That was invaluable.
Learn more about UNSW’s internship program