What is an internship?
Internships are opportunities to work in a professional environment, learn the tricks of the trade and be taught by industry professionals. They typically last between 3 and 12 months and by the end, either offer you a job or will have given you enough skills to continue working in the industry elsewhere. Part-time internships are common and perfect to have alongside your degree. Working in your desired industry while completing your degree allows you to graduate with the education and skills to go straight into work for a higher paid or better recognised job.
Interning VS Volunteering
Internships generally last a lot longer than most volunteering opportunities. As an active employee being taught the ropes by colleagues; you get a more in depth insight to the job role and whole company process. During my time at Fincham Press, I have moved around many roles and done everything from organise book launches to edit journal articles. As a volunteer, you get a look into the company and do what the company want you to. Luckily, after a few successful campaigns, it has become more common practice for internships to be paid, especially full-time ones. As a volunteer, you have no obligation to fulfil the tasks given to you whereas an internship is a job and has to be treated the same as any other, even if you’re not paid.
Choosing an internship
There are hundreds of internships to choose from all over the UK. So if you have a specific career path in mind there are chances you can find an internship in that industry that is accessible to you. During your degree, short summer or part-time internships are great. They are an ideal avenue to gain experience as you study without impacting classes. In the job description, companies will often state if they intend for the intern to stay in one department or move around amongst staff to learn all the different processes within the company. Make sure you read this and decide if you want to be very specific about what you learn within your chosen career field or you want a broader development experience.
Where to find internships
Internships are easy to access. Here at Roehampton, the fantastic careers team have a regularly updated list of opportunities for students and alumni to apply to. This includes jobs attached to the university itself such as work with Fincham Press, the Barnes Children’s Literature Festival and many more. Most of these internships recur on an annual basis, which gives you the chance to apply in every year of your degree, or perhaps even doing a different one each year and graduating with a CV every employer says yes to. Searching specific companies within the industry and checking their websites for internships and training programmes is also a great way in. Many don’t advertise their programmes and you have to go searching for them. If there is a company you desperately want to work with that doesn’t advertise any internship or work experience opportunity, it’s always a good idea to send them a query email. Though not ideal, ask for a week or so of unpaid work experience as it may give you the experience you want – it’s a great way in. Internships and work experience during your degree is a fantastic way to network and sometimes leads onto opportunities post-graduation.
Never forget to put any internship on your CV even if you don’t think it’s completely relevant to the job you apply for in the end. It could open more doors than you think.