Internships are increasingly popular among college students and recent grads. According to the National Survey of College Internships (NSCI), 21.5 percent of students complete internships before they graduate. This type of opportunity is perfect for learning and experiencing the jobs you think you want to do before you get out into the working world. Yet, only hands-on internships are the best.
Search for hands-on internships
Not all internships are created equal. There are plenty of interns who spend their days filing papers and completing busy work while their peers take on challenging projects that grow their skills.
Make the best possible choice when accepting an internship by choosing one that’s hands-on. Here are a couple of reasons why and a few signs to identify the right one.
Enable you to apply knowledge and skills
Most professors do the best they can to provide hands-on experiences to their students. Yet, even the best projects and simulations can’t beat real-world work. A quality internship will give you similar assignments that you would have in a full-time workplace. Thus, they allow you to grow your skills. This should make it easier for you to land jobs and jump into new tasks assigned by your future employer.
Not all interns walk away feeling like they learned and applied new skills, however. Roughly 25 percent of interns say they are only somewhat satisfied (or not satisfied) with their internships, according to the same NSCI data. Don’t let this happen to you.
Often come with mentorship
People across all industries and career levels can benefit from mentorship. However, this is particularly important for individuals who are just starting their career. As a new employee, you might not know how to navigate tricky workplace situations, Furthermore, you don’t have the skills to succeed in a full-time role just yet. An internship should give you the tools you need, along with mentorship to learn more.
“There’s undoubtedly a growing need for organizations to transfer knowledge from more experienced employees to interns,” says Matthew Reeves at Together. “Mentoring programs provide an opportunity for this knowledge transfer to take place, as it allows mentors to share their knowledge and experiences with interns to help them learn more about what to expect in the workplace.“
As you search for internships, ask companies how they mentor new employees. Learn whether they have established programs to guide you. This could determine whether you have a successful hands-on internship or are left to figure it out on your own while doing coffee runs.
Can land you a job
A hands-on IT internship can help you get a foot in the door with a company that you love. As an intern, you can use this program to sample what it would be like to work for the company full time. And potentially receive a job offer from it.
It’s not uncommon for companies to hire their interns full-time after they graduate. With a hands-on role, you can best show your potential, giving you a better chance of being chosen for a position. If this happens, the transition from student to employee is that much easier. You are already familiar with how the organization works.
It’s also a good sign if the company is heavily involved with their interns. This tells you they’re likely also providing the same support to employees. This gives you more opportunities as your career grows in a full-time position.
Earn money while still in school
The days of unpaid interns running around to fill coffee orders are hopefully coming to an end as more companies see the value of these youthful team members. The average intern salary in the United States according to Indeed is $17.83 per hour. On the low end, interns are earning $10 per hour and $30 per hour on the high end. Apple is particularly generous and has been known to pay interns $39 per hour while providing other benefits and mentorship.
Additionally, many interns receive college credit for completing these programs, which means you can complete your education while gaining work experience. Your intern salary will either cover the cost of your college credits or allow you to earn a little income while finishing up school.
You may find companies pay interns who are doing actual work, rather than just busy work. If so, you can start making money while in school. Plus, this can also make it easier to negotiate a more competitive salary when offered a full-time position.
Choose your internship carefully
Searching and applying for internships can be stressful. However, it’s worth it to take your time when evaluating your options.
The right hands-on IT internship can put you on the path to a successful career, giving you the skills, connections, and tools to thrive in the workplace. It might only last a few months, but a quality internship can change your life.
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