As the competition for graduate positions heats up, students must devise innovative strategies to distinguish themselves from the plethora of similarly qualified and skilled competitors.
Employers place a higher value on graduates with relevant work experience, which makes internships an appealing option.
When you look at the statistics, it is clear that internships are beneficial to students seeking their first job.
According to Monster.com, a global employment website, 85% of companies use internships to recruit for full-time positions, with former interns expected to fill 37% of graduate job vacancies.
But what are internships, how might they benefit you?, And what can you do to bag a permanent job from an internship?
Strap in. Here's what you need to know.
An internship is a short-term work experience opportunity provided by businesses, companies, and other organisations for people to gain entry-level experience in a specific sector or discipline.
Interns spend most of their time working on various projects, learning more about the field, establishing relationships within their specific industry, and honing both soft and hard skills. Internships can lead to full-time employment opportunities in some instances.
Every internship program is unique. Most internships usually last between three and six months.
Internships are worthwhile if appropriately structured. They're a terrific way to meet people in your profession and beyond. They can also help you discover that the career or industry you are in isn't what you envisioned, and can help you re-strategize and plan on what to do next. They add value and depth to your CVs as well.
Below are some of the benefits of internships.
One of the most essential benefits of internships is the hands-on work experience that interns gain, which cannot be achieved in a classroom setting. Interns have the opportunity to apply what they have studied in school to a real-world situation.
Internships not only teach specialised skills in an industry, but they also teach transferable skills like teamwork and communication, thus equipping you all around.
Prospective employers value college graduates with prior work experience, such as an internship. A college graduate with internship experience is more marketable because they often require less training and can handle more responsibility.
You may also receive a higher starting salary than those who have no internship experience and are just getting started in the workforce.
During an internship, you can learn a lot about your skills, strengths, and weaknesses. Internships provide valuable input from supervisors, managers, and others in the profession, as well as a once-in-a-lifetime learning experience that you may not have as a salaried employee.
Internships are a common way for businesses to strengthen their recruiting processes. In some cases, a company may decide to hire an intern after the internship period has ended.
Even if an offer of employment is not made right away, an intern who makes a good impression may be offered a position later when one becomes available. It's a method for businesses to put an employee through their tempo before committing to hiring them.
Before joining the job market, internship programs allow you to put your classroom skills to the test. Instead of learning the hard way with your first job out of college, it's an opportunity to put what you've learned into practice in a safe environment where mistakes are expected.
Some internships are voluntary, some are paid and some are not paid. The pay for interns varies greatly by industry. In Kenya, companies pay interns stipends ranging from as low as Ksh7,000 to a high of Ksh70,000.
So, why are unpaid internships available? Unpaid internships are primarily learning experiences rather than work experiences. Whether interns should be paid or not, is a controversial topic.
Because interns are in most cases temporary employees, they frequently do not receive the same health insurance or other benefits as full-time employees. However, depending on the industry and size of the company, benefits may range from a few social events or paid leave days to transport allowance.
Some of the known companies in Kenya that pay interns include; Safaricom, PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC), Deloitte, Kenya Revenue Authority(KRA), Insurance Regulatory Authority(IRA), Central Bank of Kenya, Trademark East Africa, Airtel Kenya, Centum Kenya, and The Parliament of Kenya.
It may take some searching to find one that is a good fit for you, but it's worth looking for a program inside or outside campus that can help you earn money while gaining the necessary work experience.
In some rare instances, a company may require you to pay a small fee to be included in their internship programme. Although this practice may be fading away, it is possible to find a company that still maintains this requirement.
Think about your college education: Look up popular career fields and job descriptions for people with your field of study.
Determine your transferable skills: Planning, critical thinking, and time management are all skills that will be useful in the workplace. You should be able to also determine which jobs require these skills with some research.
Explore your interests: Given the amount of time you spend at work, you should make it enjoyable! Make a list of a few job fields that interest you and look for internships in those fields.
Visit online job sites and apps: With thousands of job postings on sites like Campoe, Brighter Monday, LinkedIn, advance Africa, etc. you are bound to find something that's right for you. By searching for internship titles that interest you, you can narrow down the results by area, size, sector, employer, and more. Consider setting up a job alert to receive relevant job listings in your inbox.
Use Your Network: A personal recommendation can make or break your internship search, so ask your friends, family, classmates, lecturers, and former students if they know anyone who is hiring. You never know what opportunities may arise!
Prepare the materials you'll need for your application. Whatever opportunity you apply for, there are a few essential materials you should have on hand. These are your CV or resume, and if you have one, your portfolio. Be certain that all of these materials are up to date. Remember to tailor them each time you apply for an internship to ensure that you meet the job description of the company.
If you get an interview, interview like a pro! The most dreaded aspect of the job search process is usually the interview. However, if you plan ahead of time, it won't be as difficult. Do some research on the company before your interview, such as what products/services they offer, who is on their management team, what achievements they've recently achieved, who their competitors are, and so on. Any of these topics are fair game in an interview, and not knowing the answer to any of them demonstrates that you haven't done your homework.
While there is no guarantee that you will be hired following your internship, many organisations frequently recruit interns who have completed their program. Here is how you can improve your chances;
Internships are a great way to add to your CV while also gaining valuable knowledge and insight.
They can help you stand out in a crowded job market by providing you with real-world knowledge, expertise, and practical skills.
Don't be afraid to try one!