Are internships worth it?

We are officially in the middle of intern season where students looking for summer work experience work for companies as an unpaid intern. In this blog WorkAdvisor looks at the value of an internship and if employers are taking advantage of young people keen to impress in their chosen field.

An internship is described as a period of work for an organisation for a limited time period sometimes without pay in order to gain work experience or satisfy requirements for a qualification. The opportunity to work for a company that specialises in your chosen field of study is a real draw and students across the country will be doing just that as we speak. In many cases these internships may lead to a permanent job offer once qualified and can stand you in good stead when coming to interview for your dream first job in your chosen field.

But what are the draw backs from taking on an internship?

The offer of an internship is rarely paid at same rate for someone doing the same job on a permanent basis and in many cases most students will be lucky to get their expenses paid for the period they work so you need to be prepared to pay for the privilege of working for the organisation.

Internships are normally offered in hyper competitive sectors like finance, fashion, legal and IT particularly software design (coding etc) so even if you take on the option of an internship there will be thousands doing the same thing and you might find that when it comes to applying for your first job you don’t have much of an edge.

The other thing to bear in mind is that you may not always be working in the area you thought and making the tea for the team is a real risk. Most companies will be sure to offer structured internships but you will never be offered the same responsibilities as a permanent employee, for a number of reasons most notably you will not have the experience or be around long enough to fix things if they go wrong. So if you find yourself filling envelopes, tidying filling cupboards or ordering stationary for the office then it doesn’t matter where your internship you should perhaps think about discussing things with your employer and if that fails look for something else. That isn’t experience that will be useful for you in the future and won’t benefit your career path.

Ultimately internships are becoming less attractive for many people and the fact they aren’t paid and focus the individual on tasks that are just mundane means that many internships are taken up from students who are studying in the UK from abroad. There are however benefits to getting involved in an internship if you can find employers who are willing to invest time in your development means learning new skills that will support you to find your dream job in the future.