Shishira Sreenivas defends the internship for providing her with the perfect opportunity – and valuable experience – to land the dream job
Have you applied to hundreds of jobs through online search engines, uploaded countless CVs and spent hours customising cover letters and flaunting your achievements to no avail?
I have to admit that there was a phase of about three months where that’s all I did – and ended up feeling completely discouraged. This is the tough reality that recent graduates are facing in a competitive economy where the pool of entry-level jobs is shrinking by the day.
But there is a solution and it’s called an internship. This means working in a company, sometimes without pay, in order to gain some experience. And it turns out this is one of the easiest ways to land a full-time job.
If you’re thinking that an internship means emulating Anne Hathaway’s role in The Devil Wears Prada, think again. It’s no longer about sweating over Starbucks lattes and sucking up to undermining bosses. Those bad old days of intern slavery are all but gone. According to a survey conducted by Internships.com, companies now regard interning as the equivalent of an interview, where both job seeker and employer benefit equally.
Employers get to test the interns first-hand and see if they have the right attributes, giving a more realistic appraisal of work ethic and skills than a 30-minute interview. Interns on the other hand, get an opportunity to prove themselves worthy of the employer and more than anything, get considerable experience that will set them apart from others vying for the same entry-level position.
But it’s not just about landing a job. A lot of companies take on interns who are still in school or college. While there is no need to have a fixed career goal in your teens, trying different roles can help weed out interests in preparation for getting the dream job. It is important to address personal strengths, as well as weaknesses, early on so you can focus on a success strategy. Not only that, but it can help you understand the dynamics of a real workplace.
Take it from me – I’m currently on my sixth internship. I started my first placement during my second year of college, going on to work in TV, a marketing company, radio, a newspaper and now Y Magazine. I know that media jobs aren’t that easy to get and, by embracing various sectors, I have learnt several new skills, strengthened my CV, networked with the right people and collected some impressive references. All these are vital when the time comes to getting a permanent role.
Of course, like most things in life, an internship comes with its obvious pros and cons. Carefree students should stay professional, make an effort to learn the office jargon and respect fellow interns, seniors, and most importantly, the boss. Any indiscretion will either get you fired or blow your chances of a possible long-term position.
Secondly, don’t ever go into an internship hoping to get monetary compensation. Some companies bear basic expenses, while most hire unpaid interns. This is your opportunity to learn as much as possible and shine. You’re literally at the bottom of the totem pole, so let your work do all the talking. This might increase your chances of a paid position. All the toiling is likely to pay off eventually one way or another.
Thirdly, never let your enthusiasm waiver. This will make your employer think that you either don’t care or you don’t appreciate the opportunity. Instead, be persistent and ask as many questions as possible. In fact, actively volunteer to do more work. This will definitely catch your boss’s attention.
Lastly, be a do-gooder and offer to make coffee for your stressed-out boss. You don’t have to, but it might do wonders for your reputation.
So what are you waiting for? Find an internship that interests you. Fill out an application and have a go. You never know, you might just land your dream job.
What the expert says:
“An internship is a very beneficial and creative development programme, which gives students the opportunity to be exposed to the working environment and the ability to put their acquired knowledge into practice. Moreover, an internship plays a role in skill enhancement. On the other hand, it gives employers access to fresh, open-minded talent that can provide new creative ideas and possibly increase the productivity of the organisation. During an internship, employers might even find potential candidates who could occupy open vacancies in the future.”
Faiz al Rawahi from AIESEC’s Global Oman
Interning usually means hot-desking and completing assignments from home. Make flexible working a whole lot easier (and more fashionable) with this cute cat USB keyring from Marc Jacobs – from RO30.