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Internships – A Students Guide

17 Sep 2020

Internships can be a fantastic way for students to gain relevant experience and earn some money over a short period.

However, they shouldn’t be confused with industrial placements, which are typically a required part of many university courses.

We have mentioned numerous times in previous blogs, but the Coronavirus pandemic has made the world of work highly competitive. You need to make sure you are in the best position to get hired, meaning experience will be even more sought after. An internship may be just the answer to that.

I have been an intern and I can’t stress enough how beneficial it has been to me. Not only have I been able to gain experience and learn new skills specific to my desired field, but I have been able to grow and mature as a person.

What are internships?

An internship is typically an opportunity over 12 weeks where you will be able to get hands on experience in your desired field and learn the real-life skills used. Internships can allow you to test out a job that you have in mind but are primarily used as a way to add relevant experience and skills to your CV, to make you more attractive to employers once you graduate.

One huge benefit of internships, is the prospect of being hired by that business once you graduate, providing you impress during your internship. In that respect, they present the perfect opportunity to ‘get your foot in the door’ as long as you work hard.

Internships are designed with the intern in mind; they are a great mix of both learning and getting hands on with tasks and projects. When you return to university after your internship it also gives you amazing, real life ‘case studies’ and examples you can use in your work.

Internship deadlines

First and foremost, when considering internships, one of the most crucial things to think about is deadlines.

The majority of internships are during the summer holidays, but there are still some employers that offer internships over the Easter holidays. It is important to know when you should apply for an internship to ensure you don’t miss out.

Many large organisations who offer internships, such as EY, will open their applications around September and then close them around Christmas due to the large volume of applications. This means if you begin looking for roles long after Christmas, the boat for many internships may have already sailed.

On the other hand, many businesses will still have their applications open well after Christmas, so it is not the end of the world if you begin your search after the Christmas break.

Internship calendar

It is beneficial to start thinking about internships early to make sure you don’t miss out on deadlines. To help students out with this, we have created an Internship Calendar, a great way to show when applications for organisations close. With this visual tool, it will help prevent missing out on the internships you desperately want.

More dates will be added as the applications open, and an iCal link will soon be available so you can add important dates to your phone calendar. Have a look here so you can start planning your applications.

Placement or internship?

Placements and internships have some similarities, but they shouldn’t be confused. Placements are typically 12 months long and are part of your university course, with the university having some part in the application/monitoring the placement. Internships are off your own back and are shorter.

Although internships are predominately aimed at penultimate year students, there is nothing stopping you from applying at any point of your university course. Regardless of your year, you will be able to learn valuable skills and gain experience which will help you progress into a career.

The preference between an internship or a placement is completely up to you. An internship could be an attractive route to help go on to land a placement, or a graduate role in the future. Or completing an internship in the summer between year 2 and 3 as a way to make a course 3 years instead of 4 by removing the ‘sandwich year’. If you decide to do the latter, make sure you discuss with your university beforehand, as some placement years are mandatory.

Likewise, for further advice, speak to your university career service.

Freedom of choice

A great feature of internships today, is that with so many businesses keen to hire interns, you are able to complete an internship in a wide range of subjects.

You can complete an internship in the following, just to name a few;
- Accountancy
- Banking & finance
- Marketing
- Engineering
- Sports
- IT
- Law
- Logistics
- Retail
- Pharmaceutical

Networking

This is often a phrase that crops up numerous times over your university course, and we’re sometimes left wondering, “Why is it so important?”. An internship can give you the perfect chance to meet and interact with people your field, many of whom are often happy to help you by sharing knowledge and help you progress in your career. By networking, it can give you a head start in your career. ‘What you know’ is very important, but sometimes ‘Who you know’ can give you an edge.

We could ramble on about internships all day, but we want to try keep things short(ish). Head to our Internships FAQ section for more info and follow us on social media to keep up to date with tips, advice and job opportunities.

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