Internships – why, when and how to make the most of them

As a ”senior intern” as I like to call myself, a few days ago I wrote a few thoughts about being an intern, why it is important to make an impression, but mostly what to do to face the ever-growing pressures and challenges imposed by the current economic climate.

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The text below was published on the blog page of Individuum, a Luxembourg-based venture providing student recruitment services. Find out more about Individuum’s blog page here.

You have probably heard this before a million times, however, undertaking an internship is crucial for your post-university time and welfare.

As you know, job prospects in Europe and elsewhere are still not looking great for students or young graduates and ironically enough, most of the times when you browse the internet for entry-level jobs, existing openings require previous experience, numerous skills as well as additional work samples and portfolios.

Well, here is where internships come in handy. Working over the summer for a company or volunteering a few times a week besides your studying routine is more likely to give you a significant advantage on the working market.

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Planning when to start applying for internships is also important. Although, most students find themselves pressured to find a summer internship in their final year or right after graduating from university, you should definitely consider applying for temporary openings and placements from the very first year of your degree programme.

Since finding a suitable job or a promising internship feels like winning the lottery these days, you might as well keep trying your luck, sending emails and applications away on a regular basis.

We know that giving advice is much easier than practice, but truth be spoken, you should truly keep your eyes and ears wide open not to miss out on any opportunity.

A common mistake students make while still enrolled at university is underestimating the need for practical experience in their fields of interest. Although some career paths such as architecture, arts, media or medicine are very practical by default, studying law, finance, management or other theoretical degrees should not make you believe that summer time is designed to be spent exclusively on partying.

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As current students or recent graduates ourselves, we know better than anyone that being ‘‘young’’ sometimes equals ‘‘inexperienced’’ rather than creative and enthusiastic.

For that reason, it is important that you start planning on your future career path. Take advantage of any chance you might be offered to ease the transition from student times to a settled working lifestyle.

Don’t focus too much on financial rewards, don’t expect others to thank you for your work, but rather be determined and ready to learn as much as you can.

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Remember that once you’ve secured yourself an internship, the true battle to prove yourself is just beginning to take shape. Try to make an impression, ask questions, do your research on the company’s profile and generally work as hard as you would do if you were a full-time employee.

As several recruiters previously pointed out it is not only during the interview that your skills and overall potential are assessed, but throughout your entire time with the company.

This comes to prove that most companies take interns very seriously, investing their time and funds in that person. In some cases hiring individuals for temporary tasks is used by companies as a means of finding the right person for the job in the long run.

This has been the case on many occasions when following a placement, recent graduates or final-year students were kept on the job or offered a similar permanent position within the company.

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Undoubtedly, whether you are going to be offered a permanent position or not, the time you invested in your internship will bring you back new skills and knowledge, confidence, positive feedback and the self-assurance that you are following the right path.

We are not the only ones to suggest that internships equip you with invaluable skills that will gradually turn you into the perfect candidate for the so much desired job.

Other recruiters have previously confirmed the importance of knowing what to do and how to do it most effectively by having experienced various working environments.

Jenna Follet, UK-based recruiter at Bloomberg, pointed out in an online article for the Gateway that ‘‘The more knowledge you have, the more credibility you will build for your personal brand.”

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Think of your internship as the perfect marketing tool that you can use to promote YOU, your brand and your unique selling proposition.

Why is it important to do an internship?

Because above all, being an intern gives you access to new experiences, interesting people, gives you a place in a professional network and helps you come across as a credible brand.

Promote yourself and your skills in various places and through diversified experiences to make sure that when the time comes, you will be the right person at the right time and the right place.

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