What are the benefits of doing an internship? What effect can an internship have on your career? Benefits range from a great way to get yourself into a company, to becoming an expert in your chosen industry and test driving industry to set yourself up for life, let's take look at 23 reasons WHY you and your career can benefit from an internship!
Make sure to look out for the case studies where we will be speaking to people who have done internships and moved on to have amazing careers!
There is no substitute for experience. I don’t know who that quote is from but I like it so I’m using it. Learning from experienced professionals is a tremendous way to get to know your industry.
Sure, you’ve read all about the latest trends in marketing, sales or teaching, but there are people who have actually been doing this for years that can teach you little tricks and more efficient ways of doing things, so why not use their knowledge and add it to your own set of skills? It’s just one reason why internships and mentors can be great if you can get good ones.
People are often surprised when they leave school or graduate from University by the huge difference between what you read in textbooks vs completing tasks in the real world. At University, you can often skate by for weeks at a time doing very little, go to lectures and sit on your phone, maybe get some homework done the night before it’s due. In (most) workplaces, this simply won’t do as your manager and colleagues are aware of your productivity and will hold you accountable if you don’t complete it satisfactorily.
An example I can share with you is in my current job, each of us has 2-3 long-term activities and one short-term that we have to spend time on each day. If any of us neglect just one of these activities, then we’re all aware of it and hear about it from our Director within an hour or two. Very different from a more chilled out Uni, isn’t it?
It can be a shock to the system when moving from University to full-time work because you are no longer totally in charge of your own schedule. This can be frustrating because at University, you can be thoroughly enjoying your freedom and suddenly having to live by a schedule decided by someone else can take some adjustment. Getting used to this through an internship can be helpful and ease the transition from graduation to full-time work.
A colleague of mine once brought up the ‘Imposter syndrome’, when someone gets a new job but worries ‘am I capable of this? Do I actually have the skills?’. I found it interesting as it was something I had experienced myself when starting a new job, but I had been unaware it was something that happens to a lot of people.
If you are starting out on your internship and feel this ‘imposter syndrome’, so what? You’re here to learn so, of course, you don’t know everything yet. Which brings us onto to our next point…
The fact you’re doing an internship is like those ‘L’ learner plates that trainee drivers have on their cars. Your colleagues are aware that you are not an expert yet and so they adjust their expectations accordingly. This can reduce the pressure on the intern greatly and allow you to learn at your own pace (within reason, of course, 6 weeks to learn the filing system is a bit much).
While you’re on the internship, it’s a fantastic opportunity to develop skills, things you could never do before. Until I did my internship in renewable energy, I had only ever given presentations to classmates and was so nervous beforehand that I dreaded it. However, after the experience of writing out the company business plan and presenting it to would-be investors, I now feel extremely confident in my ability knowing that if I have a good grasp of the material, there is nothing to be concerned about as I can present in an informative manner and comfortably answer questions.
Internships also help by exposing you to workplace issues that aren’t covered in the classroom. Even simple things like going out with your friends for a few drinks on a Thursday evening and not quite fancying an early morning lecture on Friday isn't that big of a deal. This is a totally different issue in the workplace and can lead to big problems - not just an angry boss, but your colleagues genuinely depend on you for group productivity so if you go missing, they will often have to pick up your slack and unless you genuinely can’t get to work, that’s not fair.
Group work at University can be frustrating, but the pressure you feel to get a passing grade is nothing compared to investors or directors who are judging you and your group’s knowledge and ideas.
It’s awesome to receive A’s on your papers at Uni and employers will appreciate this - up to a certain point. After this, they want to see what you are actually capable of. What have you done other than reading and then writing a few assignments? An internship is a chance to demonstrate you can put theoretical knowledge into practice.
In my personal experience, I found that once I’d done my internship and was able to add tasks and accomplishments to my CV to go alongside my academic achievements, interest from companies skyrocketed. It’s because someone who already has experience is less of a risk. The fact that someone has already hired you and the new company can see what you’ve done really boosts your EMPLOYABILITY.
Let’s say a company is looking for someone to work in their operations department: are they going to hire the person who has been reading about Six Sigma and lean production processes for three years, or the person who has actually been working in the industry? The same is true for so many industries such as sales, IT, finance, teaching and more. The practical experience looks great on your CV and can also help with answering difficult interview questions as you have real-world experience to draw upon and things to talk about!
Jobs, or at least interviews, often go to people that businesses and recruiters already have some connection with. This is an unfortunate situation I suffered from for a long time. I had no connections in Barcelona and did no networking, thinking and hoping that my talent and hard work would get me the job. The sad thing is in many instances - this isn’t the case. As we will see later in a case study with Munish, he was clever enough to utilize a link between his University and a company which got him an introduction, meaning he was not just a faceless CV anymore, but a real person with skills and something to offer. This is INVALUABLE.
The internship should never be the ultimate goal, it should be the stepping stone on the way. If you do a great job at the place you’re interning, there’s a possibility of getting a full-time job there! Two of my colleagues in my current company started out as interns and moved on to managerial positions in the company. This is what I mean by ‘foot in the door’ - these two are very competent individuals who have found their way in by accepting the internship and demonstrating their skills. Not everyone is so lucky but by working hard and producing results, what’s stopping you from doing the same thing they did?
Something my Mum ingrained in me from a young age was the importance of showing up early and when possible, staying late, even if it's only for 5 minutes. I didn’t realize how much managers love this attitude, someone who stays to get the job done and doesn’t run out the door at the first opportunity.
As you will see from a case study later, making connections for the future can be of great benefit further down the road. A friend of mine got a great new job and the first year of his PhD was paid for by a man running a company who used to be his manager during his internship. I’m not saying it will work out this way for everyone, but it could be something as simple as a job referral or a skills recommendation on your LinkedIn profile!
A former colleague of mine has gone on to have the best job of any of my friends and anyone my age that I know of (we’ll speak to him later to find out more). He is currently getting paid to travel the world and write about beach soccer - how amazing is that?
But how did he get the job? A referral!
Someone knew about a vacancy at the place he’s working now and recommended him for the role. He spent some time doing an internship and learned loads about his industry - now he can combine this with being a great writer and everything came together, so that next week he’s off to Portugal to write about beach soccer!
As stated earlier, finding a mentor can be of great benefit because you can be exposed to all the experiences that this person has had; the advice, things to do, things to avoid, how to deal with certain situations but there is also the chance they could put you in touch with someone for your next role!
A great passion of mine is protecting the environment and so upon graduation from my Masters, I immediately embarked on an internship in renewable energy thinking this was my way to do something positive for the world.
I soon realized that the job provided almost no freedom - I needed to be between the laboratory, office and factory floor from 9 to 5 every day. This was great for a while because I was busy (the worst thing in a job is boredom) but it wasn’t something I could do for the next 60 years.
Doing an internship allowed me to do a ‘test drive’ of sorts and whilst I enjoyed my time there and learned a lot, I decided not to accept the offer of a full-time job as it wasn’t right for me. Something I would have been reluctant to do if I had signed a full-time contract, I would have felt obliged to stay.
Internships allow us to test-drive a company as well as the industry. Let’s face it, some companies are great and some are just plain rubbish: no work-life balance, boring job, poor pay, horrible co-workers, etc. The internship is a light at the end of the tunnel, knowing you’ll be leaving and not stuck here until you're 65! This way, you can throw yourself into the job learning as much as possible.
Similar to networking, references can help get your foot in the door of a company. Put yourself in the situation of a hiring manager. What is more meaningful: a phone call from a trusted colleague or ex-colleague regarding an interesting candidate or one of the 200 CV applications in your email inbox?
Having a reference adds weight to your application, backing up your claims of skills and experience. I can't tell you the struggles I used to have when applying for a job and they ask for references, who the hell do I put? Sure, I can email my old manager but...who knows if they'll reply?!
TIP: ASK FOR REFERENCES BEFORE YOU LEAVE
Don’t leave a company without at least asking for at least one reference, try and get a few. It’s true that some people don’t like to do it, thinking it's selfish, but the majority of your colleagues/managers will be happy to help because they remember there was a time that they needed help, too. So ask!
Do you like to travel? To see new places? Why not try an internship abroad? An internship abroad can really help improve your foreign language skills and make you an invaluable asset should your acquired language be needed in the future. Moving abroad helps you gain the independence and confidence that you might be capable of more than you previously thought, of doing things in a different way! If you´re interested in doing an internship in Europe be sure to register with ELJ and take a look at vacancies all over Europe.
Two big reasons to do your internship abroad are to get outside your comfort zone and HAVE AN ADVENTURE! When you graduate, do you really have many responsibilities? Most of us don’t have dependents to look after or any other big reasons that could keep us from moving abroad. This usually changes the older we get, so grab the opportunity while you can! Get out and have an adventure so that you’ll have experience and stories to tell!
Now let’s take a look at some interesting people who have done internships earlier in their careers. Remember to watch out for the tips and advice they give you!
BONUS: CASE STUDIES
I am the Marketing Manager of Jaguar Lebanon, Bentley Beirut and Lamborghini Beirut. How did I reach where I am today? During my university years, I had 3 internships. Two of which were in advertising agencies and one which was in AUB. My advertising agencies internship were in 2 of the top agencies in Beirut and gave me a great outlook on the marketing world. Client communication, marketing strategies, branding perspectives were a few things I learned within the agency field.
As for my third internship, it was as a research assistant for the dean of the AUB Business School. He had taught me the values of teamwork, honest open communication, cooperation, and all the other attributes that helped me become a better team player as well as helped form the leader in me.
Joining the dealership with a background in advertising, agencies knowledge and know-how really allowed me to interact easier with the agency that was handling the brands. It made communication much more open, as I wasn't totally new to the field. Technical terms, media plans, and all other aspects of the job were easy to relate to and to handle due to my internships. No regrets, no do-over required, and I would do everything again the same way I did it the first time. My advice to those who did not graduate yet or to fresh grads is: do not underestimate the power of internships and what they have to offer you, whether on a career level (skills, techniques, ...) or on a personal level by building your character up!
Munish Kumar Choudhary
Internship: Digital Strategy Project Intern at Amadeus
How I got the internship: Utilized business relation between school and Amadeus to network with a senior professional at Amadeus, who referred me for this position. Ensured that I had knowledge of the travel industry by completing an external consulting project for Amadeus.
My tasks: Participated in Marketing activities and Digital Strategy Project. This project was aimed at improving lead sourcing, prospecting and lead management activities through the utilization of digital tools such as LinkedIn SalesNavigator and SalesForce CRM. Helped in data analysis of leads collected through a major campaign by qualifying and quantifying them. Additionally, supported commercial operations team to improve newly deployed CRM’s administration at the company.
What I learned: Data Analysis, Formulating & implementing Sales enablement activities, handling change, utilization of digital tools for effective lead management, the Travel industry and how this industry is supported by technology.
What am I doing now: Currently searching for a strategic commercial role in a technology company.
Advice: Try every opportunity to network with the right professionals within the target company of your choice. Use LinkedIn and local events organized by the company to do so. Understand the activities of the company. Identify who can be your mentor (Sr professionals, alumni) and who can provide you with a referral (acquaintance, alumni) at the company.
Internship: Marketing & Communications at Europe Language Jobs
How I got the internship: I went directly to the company website.
My Tasks: Social media, blogging, content creation, some design work, SEO & proofreading.
What I learned: I learned loads about SEO & AdWords as well as paid campaigns on social media.
What am I doing now: I’m Media Officer at Beach Soccer Worldwide (the FIFA recognized beach soccer body). My tasks here are to travel to competitions all over the world, write match reports, liaise with local media and players, update social media, proofread, update website info and write articles for the website and magazine.
Internship: Journalist at Discovery Networks
How I got the internship: I got my internship by applying to the University job bank. I applied to a lot of businesses with the aim of getting into a big company. Some people say it is better to apply to small companies because it is said you will learn more. However, my personal point of view is that it is better to apply to a big company in order to have a better CV, get some recommendations and get to know people in the business.
My tasks: I was working in the I&D department where I had to come up with ideas for Discovery & analyze new shows that were going to be launched on other channels. After working as an intern for a year, I was hired by the Local Production team as an executive producer of a series launched both in Spain and abroad.
What I learned: I learned about a lot of things that I never even heard of while at University. The most important thing was to put the effort in and work as a full-time member even when you are not as well paid as an intern because it is the only way to take the next step and show off your skills!
What am I doing now: I’m working in a Production Company in the production of Border Security: Spain. A factual series that is broadcast to more than 65 countries. I also come up with new ideas for the series we can produce in the future.
Advice: Doing an internship helped me understand how the market works and enabled me to make connections. This is great because they can notify you if they become aware of a job opportunity for you. Be friendly and try to learn as much as possible! As in every aspect of life, there is a chance you could be unlucky and find yourself at a company that simply wants someone to do the work of a full-time employee but pay them the rate of an intern. Try to avoid these ‘opportunities’ and trust yourself!
Internship: Engineering department of Ingersoll Rand and Tower Automotive (2)
How I got the internship: Networking through friends of the family
My tasks: I completed three internships while attending college. At Ingersoll Rand, I worked in the mechanical drafting department, largely digitizing drawings through software. This was a task-focused internship but one that taught me plenty about deadlines. At Tower Automotive, I was given much more autonomy. I was assigned a project of redesigning a manufacturing floor to incorporate several new automated lines. In the second summer, I had the opportunity to manage the installation of one of those lines, which gave me a chance to see my floor design in action. Tower gave me significant autonomy in both internships which was incredible for my confidence.
What am I doing now: After two decades with Fortune 500 companies, I now own a consulting firm focused on developing leadership and sales teams for small to medium-sized businesses.
Advice: The biggest challenge college students face is finding an internship. You might get lucky looking at job boards and posting resumes online but your chances rise when you leverage your network.
Start with family. Your parents, uncles, aunts, grandparents and cousins most likely work for corporations. They also know many people who work for corporations. Call all of them and ask if their company is looking for an intern. If the answer is no, ask them specifically if they would call a friend and ask if their company is looking for an intern.
Once you have exhausted family, move to your closest friends. If a friend already has an internship, ask his or her parents if they could also help you. Check with professors and even high school teachers. Every person in your network knows at least 10 people who may be in a place to help you.
I found both companies by asking my family to help me and had to ask several times to show them I was serious. If nothing else, this will be good practice if you ever get into sales or start your own business as this process works in finding new customers as well.
Internship: Fashion Writer at Olena
How I got the internship: In order to get this internship I had to write an article as a guest blogger, the company published it on their website and gave me the fashion writing internship.
My Tasks: Maintain the company’s social media profiles and write 2 articles per week on the topic of luxury fashion.
What I learned: I learned a lot during my internship: deep secrets of the fashion industry, what’s behind the curtain and the catwalk, the inspiration of Louboutin and the many scrunched up sketches thrown around his art atelier before the famous high heels became an exclusive trademark of his inspiration. It taught me how to organise my tasks properly and where to look for inspiration when it came to writing. It allowed me to put my personal signature in the exclusive world of the fashion industry and express what inspired me the most about it.
What am I doing now: Now I’m living in Barcelona, working in Marketing at Europe Language Jobs. I’m involved in forming relationships with Universities across Europe, writing for the company blog and bringing candidates to the company.
Advice: For all of you out there looking for an internship. I can say the following: keep your eyes and ears open as there are opportunities all around if you know where to look. Be open to challenges and trying new things - our best achievements come when we get out of our comfort zone. Go for an opportunity that will help you develop skills, which you can implement later on in your career. And, most of all, make sure you enjoy it!
Internship: I was placed at my internship at Mousetrap Theatre Projects through my application at International Studies Abroad (ISA).
How I got the internship: I had applied to ISA and requested something that was either in the theatrical field or not-for-profit sector. With my placement, I was able to do both. ISA forwarded my resume to Mousetrap and then I had a phone interview to confirm my interest in the internship.
My tasks: My placement at Mousetrap lasted three months. While there, I was tasked with several different projects. Mousetrap is an organization focused on getting various types of youth, specifically disabled and lower-income, to West End theatre (which is the equivalent of Broadway here in the States). So I would be doing anything from filing payments for discounted tickets, to helping confirm details on my favourite project StageSeen. StageSeen is a scheme for visually impaired and blind youths to see a West End performance and go to a workshop with a theatre practitioner, as well as have a touch tour before the performance. A touch tour comprised of not only meeting all the cast and crew but also being able to go on stage and touch different props and set pieces.
What am I doing now: At present, I am currently applying to graduate schools and working at my local community theatre.
Advice: For those interested in interning or are interning, I have two pieces of advice. First off, this is not studying abroad, there are people who are relying on you to get work done. Now, it will be okay if you go away on a Friday if you want to go off to a different country, but you need to let them know. This is something to add to your connections.
Secondly, even if you may be tired, don't go back to your flat after work! More often than not, you will probably be in a larger European country, meaning there are dozens of things to do. Go to museums, plays, sporting events, markets, or whatever floats your boat. Also, especially in London, take advantage of the weekend. Often times things will close earlier than you think on weekdays so get out early Saturday and wander around!
As you can see from the example set by Andrea, Serena, and others, if you work smart, work hard, listen to people who are more experienced and learn from them, you can go on to have amazing experiences and awesome careers!
So go and find yourself an amazing internship - and who knows, maybe someone will be asking you to pass on your advice and tips in the future after you’ve had your own amazing experiences! Internships in fields like marketing, finance, sales, teaching, IT and more can be found at Europe Language Jobs, so don’t forget to utilize this resource to help you get your own internship!
Cheers and see you next time when we take a look at essential tools that will aid you in your job search!