04 January, 2023

What is an internship and how to get one – The complete handbook!




What is an internship?

If you’re a student, a very commonly used word on college campuses is internship. What exactly is an internship? An internship can be defined as work experience offered by organisations and corporations for a brief period of time. While it isn’t particularly limited for students, any individual who is interested in getting exposure in the industry of their choice, internships help them dip their toes in a particular field of interest. As an intern, you get to experience first-hand the ins and outs of the organisation. 

The duration of every internship depends on organisational norms, some offer for a period of 8 to 12 weeks, typically with a 40 hour work week, while some organisations offer a 20 week internship. There are organisations which pay and there are some which do not. Internship rules vary with different companies, and their corresponding industries.

Why is an internship important?

It offers you an insight of the industry you want to work in, by giving you access to industry professionals,  and understanding what the job might be like as an entrant in the industry. While interns are encouraged to learn and interact with the employees at the organisation, it helps build their own network with other interns and industry professionals to the very head of the organisation if one leaves an impact.

With the growing competitive nature of corporations, experienced working professionals have an edge over those who are fresh out of college. Employers are encouraging internships to be made visible on resumes as internships have become a must in most academic curriculum during the course of the degree. And an underlying factor which most interns find out during their internship is whether they are fit for that particular organisation or the job role they aspire to work in. Internships act as a screening tool for students who are unsure about their choice and helps them gauge through while giving them an idea which role they would be much suited for. 

Internships have, in recent years, become a more easier and accessible way to onboard students as full-time employees depending on their performance during their internship. It offers students an opportunity to focus on their projects during their final year without having to worry about being prepared for job interviews since they already have a job offer. 

To summarise, internships can assist students in understanding what they want to do going ahead in their professional career.

Where can you find internships?

Many applicants, who are oftentimes students, wonder what are the ways one can find internships. Here are the most frequent modes of finding new internships:

Through campus

- The easiest way to find internships for a college-going student is approaching their Training & Placement Cell, which offers you the choice of getting you the internship of your choice or assist you in landing an interview through networks of their own. Many companies due to the relations with an institute or university tend to approach the students from the same institute time and again. So, the first stop for you when trying for an internship is your college campus.

The internet

- The behemoth of information, the all accessible giant which provides you with solutions or recommendations at one click. With tons of available ways and means available at the palm of your hand and websites such as internshala, LinkedIn, LetsIntern, AngelList, etc. to name a few. These websites help you with finding internships and a few even help you with job postings. 

Looking for an internship online can be the equivalent of finding a needle in a haystack, so it’s best you have a fair idea about what you’re searching for as it makes your task much easier.

Favourite organisations

- We all have our favourite organisations to work in, depending on your preferred industry. In the era of digitisation all of the companies have their websites and digital footprint, it has become much easier to apply for jobs and internships since the companies update any openings on their websites. 

Four Pointers for Landing an Internship

Now that you are aware of the what, why’s and where’s, let us now discuss how you can land an internship:

1. Begin your search early: Determine the hiring dates for your sector. Generally speaking, the larger the organisation, the earlier they begin the application process for the intern class for the following summer. While on the other hand, smaller companies tend to hire after the big giants are done. So even if you are planning to apply in smaller firms, it's better you have a fair idea about when they will begin recruiting interns.

2. Keep your resume and cover letter ready: It provides information about your schooling, employment history, and successes with prior employers. It also includes information about your talents and training. There are hundreds of resume formats and templates available and every one of them will suggest something different. 

3. Be ready for interviews: Interviews help gauge your personality and can help you in the long run if the interview goes successfully. So, it’s good to be prepared for it. Read up on frequently asked questions, although it is not necessary to repeat word by word what is mentioned on the internet. Having a clear understanding and a basic idea about what could be asked always helps.

Look up the company, understand what it offers in terms of products and services. If you have a resource at the organisation, contact them to ask about what are the interviewing procedures and likely questions asked. 

4. Utilise your network: When applying for an internship, reaching out to people, be it your contact in the company you wish to work in, your colleagues, professors, alumnus. They will help if you are aware about what kind of internship you are looking for. You can reach out by networking on LinkedIn by shortlisting alumni who are or might be/have working/worked in your desired company. Compared to applying at random, networking frequently requires more work but predominantly delivers a better fit. You'll be pleased you started building your network early in your career, even if it doesn't immediately benefit your hunt for an internship.

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