A 2017 study shows that only 69% of Australian university graduates end up in full time work after graduation. With such daunting prospects for the remaining 31% of graduates, it’s no secret that the job market is not necessarily welcoming you with open arms! So how to outshine the millions of other graduates; university or other, who are competing for the same roles as you? Welcome to the internship game!
Yes, the rumours are true. Many, if not most, internships are unpaid. Working for free isn’t exactly the dream, but don’t write it off just yet. Look to the long term and take a moment to recognise that the experience you gain through an internship can become invaluable and may in fact become the single point of difference that puts you ahead of fellow candidates for future job prospects.
Of course, experience is not the only plus. We’ve compiled the top five benefits you can gain from any internship. This blog is definitely something to come back to the next time you get down about ‘starting from the bottom’.
Identify your interests.
One of the many benefits of an internship is that it’s not actually a job that you’ve contractually signed into for however many years or terms. Internships in their nature are short term, giving you a snapshot into the business you’re working with over a two, three, six-month period.
You may have completed your studies or jumped into an internship which you thought was your absolute dream. Sometimes you’ll come out on the other end having solidified this passion, and sometimes you might realise that this particular aspect of the job is not for you. Not to worry, you’ll find something you love more the next time around. Again, not locked into a long-term contract.
The saying goes “you never know until you try”, so don’t be afraid to immerse yourself in all aspects of your chosen field. And just remember that it’s not wrong to decide you do or don’t like something. The huge benefit you gain from this is the chance to realign your career goals and identify the specific types of jobs or internships you know you’ll really love in the future.
Observe and Learn.
Within the first week of a new internship you probably feel like your brain is about to explode with new information. You will probably find yourself thinking “they didn’t teach me that in school”. Sorry, we hate to break it to you but it’s true!
On the positive, being in a new, professional environment, you have the chance to observe and learn from those around who are guaranteed to have been through the same process as you. A good internship can prepare you in ways to conduct yourself in a work environment. You may not even realise as your mind is so busy taking in all its new knowledge, but you’ll be picking up on things such as work etiquette, professional presentation and communication. You’ll step into your next job with a polished professionalism the internship-less candidates may lack, and you’ll be thanking those unpaid hours for it.
Build your professional network.
From asking colleagues if they want to grab a coffee, or offering extra help with their tasks, every little bit counts. The limited time you get to spend around these people is a prime networking opportunity. Take every chance to sit in on meetings, meet new clients, join in with social arrangements even if it’s out of work time. The colleagues you learn from can provide you with valuable guidance, help and insights into improving your professional skillset. You never know what doors these people may be able to open for you in the future. Plus, you might end up making some lifelong friendships.
Ask for feedback.
It’s one thing to smash out those assignments last minute and still manage to hit those High Distinctions, but how do you perform in a real-life work environment?
Asking your supervisor or director for constructive criticism on your performance is one of the most beneficial things you can possibly do. Who better to receive guidance from than someone who knows the exact role and tasks you’re working on. Plus, chances are they’ve been through it all before you and will have an expansive selection of invaluable advice that one can only learn from living it.
Beef up your resume.
1. What’s the difference between a resume with years of part time hospitality experience and a resume with internships?
The tale as old as time says never to put jobs you spent less than a year at on your resume. Well we’re here to say forget that. What’s 100 times more valuable is showcasing your range of experience within the industry you’re actually applying for. Spent 3 years making coffee? Great for you, leave it off the resume. Spent 3 months in an internship learning from the best? Add it immediately. Don’t forget the cliché; it’s not quantity but quality. After all, it’s a cliché for a reason.
Be sure to add any relevant experience no matter how short. The experience and knowledge you gain from an internship can demonstrate to a future employer that you’ve got the professional skill set to land the job.
So where to now? When your time is up at your internship don’t let those connections end. Be sure to connect with your colleagues on various social media platforms, whether that be adding them on Facebook or connecting on LinkedIn. If you’re feeling confident enough, there’s no harm in asking a colleague if they would consider being your mentor after your time in the office comes to an end. Interns that stay in touch are more likely to be remembered and considered for a paid position in the future. So, do what it takes to make a lasting impression and gain every benefit you can from your internship.