Chapter 7 - Decoding Internships: Internship 101

An internship is a short-term work experience offered by companies and other organisations for people - usually students, to get some entry-level exposure to a particular industry or field. It gives a student an opportunity to explore, personally develop, and learn new skills that are required in one’s career. It acts as a useful tunnel for uncovering a path and getting into any industry.

Student interns can expect to have highly trained professionals as their mentors, expand professional contacts, gain exposure to executive management and real-life work experience. An internship can be either paid or voluntary. The trend is increasingly (and rightly) towards the former, as voluntary internships are often cited as exploitative.

If you are a career-minded student, you must have heard about internships and would have a lot of doubts about the same in your mind. Through this month’s blog, we have tried to solve all your doubts. Let’s strap in!

1. Importance of Internships

An internship is important because it can present you with new skills and opportunities that you would not receive otherwise. Interns not only gain technical knowledge within the industry of their choice, but they also learn how to interact with professionals in a workplace setting, and develop essential soft skills like time management, organization, adaptability, problem-solving and teamwork.

Here are some of the reasons that expand on why an internship is important for your professional and personal development.

  • To gain real-life experience and exposure
  • The most important reason to do an internship is to obtain real-world experience and exposure. As an intern, you get a chance to work side by side with accomplished industry professionals and get a pretty good idea of what an entry-level role might entail. You’ll not only gain real work experience but also meet and learn from the pros.

  • Networking with professionals
  • One of the most valuable aspects of an internship is the opportunity to network with professionals in your area. You can have the great advantage of being in close proximity to top minds in your industry and influential names to drop in the future when you start an internship. You'll be surrounded by all the right people, from fellow interns to mentors who are major figures in your sector.

  • Application of knowledge
  • An internship in your field allows you to put all of your classroom knowledge to good use. Aside from the impressive work history, you can boast about it on your future CV and cover letter. An internship also gives you the chance to put what you've learned thus far into practice.

  • Field experimentation
  • One of the most appealing aspects of an internship is the opportunity to try new things with no strings attached. It gives you the chance to figure out what you don’t want to do. It’s often difficult to know where to even start when it comes to job searching. Internships give you the chance to try a few things out without committing. If you’re lucky, you’ll find something you love. And if not, you’ll at least know what doesn’t work for you.

  • Learn firsthand
  • Internships not only allow you to put your studies into practice in a real-world setting, but they also allow you to obtain fresh industry insights and knowledge. Furthermore, there are many things that schools cannot or will not teach you, such as proprietary software or the soft skills that you will require. One of the most valuable internship benefits is the opportunity to learn them firsthand.

    2. Requirements for an Internship

    The requirements for applicants vary depending on the company. Some organisations ask you to complete an online application, while others recruit in the same way as they would appoint someone for a permanent job. However, there are a few key materials that you should always have in hand. Here are the most common ones:

  • Resume
  • Resumes are brief documents that reflect your educational background, professional experience and relevant skills. You might consider having multiple versions of your resume tailored to the requirements of the internship positions that you are applying for and emphasise on the skills mentioned in the job description. Check out our article - “How to build your resume” to get in depth information about building resumes

  • Cover Letter
  • A cover letter is a one page document that you submit as a part of your application alongside your resume. Its purpose is to introduce you and briefly summarise your professional background. While not always mandatory, cover letters are always a good idea. They show that you are passionate about the opportunity, and provide a well-rounded picture of who you are as a candidate.

  • Social Media Profile
  • Most of the recruiters use social media to research candidates therefore you should maintain your social media profiles especially on a professional networking site such as LinkedIn. Keep your profile professional and appropriate and engage with the companies you are interested in.

    3. How to find the right Internship for you?

    Choosing the right internship is very important. There are a lot of factors to be considered before going out for a particular internship but mostly, it depends upon the individual candidate.

    Below are some points one can keep in mind before settling upon the internship

  • Keep an eye on College Internship events
  • College Internship fairs come with a lot of exciting opportunities and that is the best time to explore different kinds of internships. And guess what? Converge’22: The PAN India Annual Internship fair of P.G.D.A.V. College, is right at the corner. Taking place in March 2022, this event is held by the Placement Cell of P.G.D.A.V. College which helps students from all over the country to connect with a lot of reputed organisations. You should definitely consider registering yourself in the event in order to have an ample amount of internships in different fields.

  • Identify your Career Interest
  • It’s always better if one has an idea of the career field they are interested in. Internships, when chosen on the basis of career interest, can be proved advantageous in terms of gaining experience and building a good resume for further jobs. However, if one is unsure about their career interest, they should try opting for internships in different fields and decide what’s suitable for them.

  • Network and Resources
  • As said by many career experts, ‘Networking is one of the most valuable tools to find internship opportunities.’ Connect with family members, batchmates, faculty and other job trainees who share similar interests. This will help you in getting the insight and make the process a little easier.

  • Look for how much time you can spend on an internship
  • Before starting with an internship, you should see how much of your time the organisation demands from you, and if you can dedicate that particular amount of time. Choosing internships after carefully considering the working days and time can reduce the mental strain later.

  • Pay Scale
  • Internships come as both paid and unpaid. There are always speculations in the mind of students on whether to choose paid internships or unpaid. Both come with their pros and cons. While paid internships give the student advantages to make money, it also requires a lot of devotion. Unpaid internships, however, don’t help much with the pay factor. But one must choose the internship which helps in the overall growth of you, as a person.

    4. Tips for getting an Internship

    You can get the most out of college by landing an internship. As discussed, it's a great way to gain valuable work experience, hone your skills, and build your network. Sounds like a simple idea that is easy to do but if you're not sure how to get an internship, here are a few tips on how to get an internship relevant to your interest

  • Start looking early
  • It is always a good idea to start looking early for internship opportunities. The internet is a great place to find a suitable internship for yourself where you can browse through job listing websites. LinkedIn is also a great platform to track internship opportunities, you can also set job alerts for your target companies. You should always be prepared beforehand in submitting your applications and should not wait till the last minute.

  • Get recommendation message from seniors/Faculty in your CV
  • It's always a plus point if you have someone who can vouch for you. Connect with your seniors and faculty members to get a good recommendation message from them in your CV. It will make a good impression in front of the recruiters if a reliable source or an authoritative figure recommends you.

  • A good attitude is always a plus point
  • Always try and look at the positive side. If you are really passionate about learning, keep an open mind and show initiative in what you do. Try to take criticism constructively and be willing to learn in every situation. Remember that the internship experience, no matter how short it is, is worth something!

  • Prepare well for the interviews
  • It can be tempting to wing it, especially since interview invites can often make them sound like casual chats. Don’t fall for it. Review common internship interview questions and practice answering them aloud. You don’t have to memorise your responses but definitely practice them. Make sure you do some research about the company - what it does, what it’s currently working on, and what its culture is like.