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Career Advice

Internships – the Advantages and Disadvantages

Internships – over the last twelve months, the word ‘internship’ seems to have gotten some mighty bad press….

It’s also not easy being a graduate right now. Even in the last week there have been three damning news reports that paint a not too bright future for the UK employment market in general and graduates in particular. Firstly, one report suggested that there are 73 graduates chasing every advertised graduate job. Secondly, reports are suggesting that the UK employment market is again deteriorating. Thirdly, there are reports that graduate employers could be looking to increase their qualification short-listing criteria to a first at university, as opposed to a 2:1.

Internships, an alternative to finding a graduate level role, seem to have become popular over the last few years. An internship is basically a paid, or unpaid work placement, where (you hope) to gain on the job training and experience that will in turn help you find future employment. Bearing in mind the fact that the employment market seems to be getting tougher, and Internships (like them or loathe them) seem to be here to stay, we thought we would highlight the possible advantages and disadvantages of the Internship…

Advantages

  • It’s only for the short-term! Think of it like this. If your employment lifespan is 45 years (if you are lucky), even a half-year internship is only the equivalent of 1 / 90th of your career history. Half a year can really fly by, and the older you get, the more you will realise, that the 6 months on-the-job experience that you gained, is actually worth 10 years in terms of the job and salary you now have.
  • It gets you in the right mindset. Forgive me for this , but university is not the real world. Sadly for many of us, the real world is getting up at 7am and getting home at 7pm, and only having 20 to 25 days paid holiday a year. Oh, and sometimes having to work through your lunch break! For most of us, me included, that was definitely not university! So, even if the experience you gain in terms of work duties is pitiful, the experience you gain in terms of the structure of working can be priceless.
  • It can give your CV valuable work experience. The experience you get on your internship might be poor. The job duties you have to undertake may be repetitive. Your boss, may take advantage of your intellect and get you to undertake a project that you feel you should be paid to do. However, constantly, keep in mind that the reason you are probably doing this internship, is not because the job description sounded great, but that the job duties you undertake will add weight to your CV. One of the biggest complaints graduates understandably make is “the job asks for experience, but how to I get the experience?” Well an internship, is your opportunity, to get that experience. So bite your lip.
  • You can get a job! Internships, paid or unpaid, can lead to full-time employment with the same company. Fact. If not with the company you did your internship with, the fact that you are working and mixing with people from other work places, may open doors to other opportunities.

Disadvantages

  • It can be slave labour. One of the issues that Internships have had, is not the actual process of employing an Intern, but more the fact that some employers have taken it upon themselves to use Internships as a way of getting free labour. Certainly over the last 12 months, this has created a negative atmosphere towards internships, full stop. As a result, some businesses, rather than get negative publicity, have pulled their intern programmes completely.
  • There may never have been a job possibility at the end of it. Leading on from the whole ‘free labour’ issue, some businesses never have any intention of offering interns, contract or permanent jobs at the end of it. A good internship, should have some possibility of longer term employment. It is worth exploring online if a company has a good or bad ‘intern’ reputation, and even asking at interview, what the possibilities of permanent work, at the end of the internship, are.
  • You can be a dogsbody. Take it on the chin, or not, but many internships, will give you menial tasks to complete. You have to be realistic that you are not going to be running a department or office as an intern, the likelihood is that you will be running around after everyone else instead.
  • You may feel disrespected. Other permanent employees in the company you ‘intern’ for, may not bother to get to know you very well, as you are only a temporary addition to the team. This can be rather disconcerting, but remember it is their issue, not yours.

We hope that this article helps if you are currently considering an internship. Internships are not for everyone, but they are a valid post graduation option, if organised and treated correctly. If you want to find out more about Internships, why not read our exclusive interview with Ben Rosen of Inspiring Interns.

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Discussion

3 Responses to “Internships – the Advantages and Disadvantages”

  1. Unpaid internships are few and far between years ago but are now commonplace. They are damaging the economy by shifting paid work to unpaid work circumventing the National Minimum Wage (which most of these companies can quite easily afford) and the payment of NI (which contribute to schools, hospitals etc). They deny people from lower socio economic backgrounds the opportunity to get work experience as often they do not have access to the bank of ‘Mum and Dad’ in order to support them for the length of the internship often in major cities where the cost of living is significant. It’s a shame that they are seen as a legitimate career option and that more people are not campaigning against them. We cannot grow an economy by paying people nothing.
    However, acknowledging they exist, I would advise graduates to really think about whether the internship really does have something to offer in terms of skills training and if it doesn’t to avoid it. Ultimately good employers want relevant experience (with the emphasis on relevant) and probe for it at interview.
    Graduates are under pressure but don’t just jump at the chance to load anyone’s photocopier for free. At the very least, do it in a company that is relevant to your chosen career so that you’re learning about the profession you ultimately want to work in through watching others.

    Posted by Peter | July 10, 2012, 8:50 am
  2. this is pretty amazing.http://www.kitsucesso.com

    Posted by Elna | July 24, 2012, 7:30 pm

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