An ideal job candidate is one who has just graduated from University, is in their early 20s, and has 15 years of valuable work experience followed by volunteer work and other achievements. But you know what? There are no ideals, and such candidates simply don’t exist.
However, it doesn’t change the fact that, ironically, the employer often demands previous work history to allow you to gain new experience. Although the US unemployment rate fell to 6.3 percent, from 6.7 percent as of January 2021, many HR recruiters are still less willing to give a chance to candidates without a relevant work history.
All is not lost yet, however. There are plenty of alternatives to get you some valuable experience—you can take up a part-time job, use learning platforms, go freelance or try, mentioned earlier, volunteering. What else you can do is to enroll in an internship.
The internship market can be a nasty place. Many internship practices are even dirtier and more unfair than those from the actual labor market. And while some programs can make a significant difference in your career, others will simply waste your time, and looking for those hidden gems can be a never-ending job itself.
Recently, LiveCareer has polled over 1,000 Americans to find out how helpful internships can be for people entering adulthood and, consequently, the workforce.
The internship market is spoilt, but it’s back on track.
Internships still have the infamous reputation for taking advantage of college-aged Americans to do unwanted jobs and without adequate compensation.
However, it seems like the internship market is changing, and according to the survey, paid internships are becoming the standard. 77% of the young adults state they were paid for their internship program. Those results are parallel with numerous industry reports that declare the end of the age of unpaid internships.
And what are the monthly wages for internships? Surveyed US interns earn:
- Less than 1,300$ – 31%
- 1,301$ to 2,000$ – 31%
- 2,001$ to 2,700$ – 24%
- 2,701$ to 3,400$ – 10%
- 3,401$ to 4,100$ – 3%
- More than 4,101$ – 2%
The Why and Where of Internship Programs
Although some internships may seem like an excellent idea to develop your resume and gain relevant work experience, most interns’ (54%) motivation behind partaking in such a program was obligated by the school.
The remaining 46% voluntarily decided to gain such professional experience. Interestingly, 62% of those ambitious individuals state that they now make $100,000 and more. Such drive for success and motivation may lead them and, possibly, guide you to better financial possibilities in the future.
As for where to look for internship opportunities, according to the study, Americans find internship programs mostly through Google, followed by networking and career services offices. However, LinkedIn and reaching out to potential employers seem like reliable options too.
Interestingly, popular among HR professionals, career fairs and job boards seem not to be so interesting from seekers’ perspectives. This could be valuable information for recruiters and HR managers to focus their attention and resources towards employer branding and online advertising rather than outdated forms of interns sourcing.
Internships and Their Value for Your Career Today
Researching viable internship opportunities, putting together a junior-level resume, and crafting an engaging cover letter that would make the recruiter interested in your candidacy seems like a proper job itself.
However, while young professionals might think they are about to significantly contribute to the organization that would provide them vast growth opportunities, the reality might not be as glamorous.
According to the study, only 7% of the interns performed meaningful work throughout their entire internship program. The remaining 93% have described their work as more or less menial-like.
Fortunately, despite somewhat discouraging findings, numerous studies that revolve around the correlation between internships and subsequent employment state that there are various benefits of undertaking an internship.
The added value of internship programs to the young people working within a certain organization is undeniable. Those interns get a unique opportunity to put their academic and personal skills to work in a real-life environment. Furthermore, experience obtained from practical experience will increase your value as an employee. But there are more benefits to that.But there are more benefits than that.
While making coffee runs, organizing documents, and answering phone calls may not seem like the most exciting duties, an internship is an excellent opportunity to develop your soft skills. Such work gives you the opportunity to learn how to balance teamwork and the ability to work independently. Moreover, like any other job, it would make you work on your communication skills with a particular emphasis on assertiveness.
A Stronger Resume
Soft skills are not, however, the only abilities you will gain during an internship. Such programs are a great way to gain new hard skills to improve your resume before you even enter the labor market. Offering employer skills necessary in your chosen profession from practical experience is considered a significant asset. Such expertise, explicitly described in your resume or job application, will make you stand out in the game and give you a competitive advantage in the market.
It’s the 21st century, and people no longer stay in one job for life. Moreover, it very often happens that the education people obtain has nothing to do with a real job. While interns are usually assessed in the workplace for their skills and abilities, practical experience in a particular position exposes the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of a profession and the whole industry. An internship may be seen as sort of a test-drive of your desired career but under no obligation to commit.
A Foundation of Your Professional Network
Networking has been a trend in career development for a while now, and internship programs are an excellent way to develop a professional network of contacts. Maintaining a good relationship with colleagues and contracting parties can be invaluable once you enter the workforce. Use that time; meet people from the industry, use invitations to industry events, and gain credentials and referrals. No matter what field you choose, such a network will unquestionably prove itself useful.
A Stepping Stone to Full Employment
It is a common fact that many organizations reach out to interns as the best potential candidate for a full-time position. Such individuals can prove themselves in practice and get familiar with corporate culture, which would require less training later in time. Such cooperation is, in many cases, a win-win for both parties.
A Confidence Booster
Finding a valuable entry-level job takes time and patience. During this process, self-confidence can get damaged. If you have already finished an internship in a particular position or worked within a given organization or the industry, you will start from a better place. You will feel more equipped to take on new responsibilities. Such a boost of confidence can prove to be an invaluable advantage over the competition.
The internship market still needs a lot of work and tweaking and many internships are just a formality. But in general, such an experience, or at least a resume, will certainly not be superfluous for young people.