Internships – Advantages and Disadvantages: An internship is a position within a company or organization that is offered to a student or recent graduate for a limited period of time. They generally last for a few months and are usually part-time during the academic year and full-time in the summer. The purpose of the internship is to allow the intern to gain work experience in an area related to their studies or that they feel they would be interested in pursuing as a career in the future. Internships are available in almost every discipline, including Engineering, Business, Accounting, Marketing, Hospitality and Science.
Advantages of Internships:
Interns get the opportunity to work alongside professionals and learn from them. You see how the theory that you have studied is applied in real-life situations. Internships provide valuable insight into what a particular job entails on a daily basis or what a particular company is like to work in. Feedback from management or your colleagues can help you to identify your strengths as well as areas where your skills may need improvement. This enables you to make more realistic and informed decisions about the career path you will follow after graduation.
Internships provide networking opportunities which may lead to future full-time employment. You also have a chance to prove your abilities to the company that you intern with. This gives you a distinct advantage over other candidates if you are looking for a permanent job after graduation as your experience will make the learning curve considerably shorter. The company will also gain from your knowledge of the most current industry theories and trends.
You will learn skills that are vital in the workplace but which do not relate directly to your academic studies. For example, you will learn about time management, communication skills and how to work well with co-workers who may come from different backgrounds to your own. Having your own responsibilities assigned to you will result in your becoming more confident in your own abilities. You will be encouraged to use your own initiative and be prepared to try new things. You can also gain academic credit for a successful internship.
Internships can help to ease the transition from academic life to the workplace. Regardless of whether you are offered a permanent position with the company that you intern with, the real-life experience that you gain is very attractive to any potential future employer. To many employers, it is as important as excellent academic results.
Interns are often assigned a particular person who supervises your internship. You report directly to them and in some cases, they will be reporting on your progress to your educational institute if you are gaining academic credit for your internship. You are able to turn to them with any questions or concerns you may have and they are there to provide training and guidance.
Disadvantages of Internships:
Some companies pay their interns an hourly rate but often internships are unpaid positions. If the position is unpaid, some companies may cover some expenses such as lunch or transport costs. However, even if the experience gained is valuable many interns may feel dissatisfied that their hard work goes unrewarded. If your financial situation dictates that you need to earn money over a summer, then an internship may not be the best option for you.
It is important that you ensure that your duties and responsibilities as an intern are clearly laid out before you commence work with the company. You are there to learn and to gain practical experience in your area of study. Most companies do their best to match your duties as an intern to your areas of interest. However, if the internship has been poorly organized or the company is simply taking advantage of free labor, some interns do not benefit from their internship. You may find you end up doing menial tasks such as photocopying or errand-running.
You may be assigned to repetitive tasks in one particular department which restricts your exposure to the company as a whole. In this situation, it can be more difficult to display your abilities to those in senior positions who may be able to offer you permanent employment later.
Some students may be distracted from completing their studies by being offered a position within the company during their internship. In the case of paid internships, you might be less inclined to want to return to student life once you have started to earn money.
Below is a list of some of the various types of internships.