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How Beneficial are Internships for Entry-Level Workers?

By: Andrew Deen


Recruiting the Best Talent from Your Internal Talent Pool

There are lots of open jobs in the United States right now, but it can be hard to break into a competitive field that will lead to a strong career path over time. Jobs requiring high-level skills and expertise require years of working at lower-level positions in order to get the credentials a person needs in order to advance, and possibly break out on their own to start their own business.

Internships are one way for workers to gain the skills they need to be competitive. However, internships can be controversial, depending on the policies of the company and what an intern will be doing while working there. Getting an internship and then doing nothing but fetching coffee isn’t a great way to build relevant skills!

With that in mind, how beneficial are internships for entry-level employees? Is it a good way for them to get their foot in the door? Or is it likely to result in very little career movement? Here’s what anyone considering an internship should know.

What is an Internship?

An internship is essentially a temporary job that is designed to help people learn and build necessary skills for the job market. Internships might be paid or unpaid, depending on the situation. Students often work in unpaid internships to earn college credit, for example. Internships that take place outside of the school system, however, should be paid.

Companies benefit from internships by gaining extra help and potentially scoping out new talent. Interns benefit from getting a first-hand look at their career of choice and having a chance to prepare for the job market.

The Benefits of an Internship

Internships can be a great way for young people to learn more about the field they want to enter. They get to see the day-to-day work involved, get some practice in performing that work without too much pressure, and network for future job opportunities.

In today’s competitive job market, an internship can be an enormous competitive asset on one’s resume. It’s essentially job experience, which can move a resume to the top of the pile.

How an Internship Can Help Entry-Level Employees

Lots of people who are sitting at the entry-level in their field find themselves submitting dozens of applications and competing against countless applicants. It’s extremely hard for people to stand out and show a hiring manager why they’re the best choice for the job. Having work experience in the field, even for an entry-level job, can be incredibly valuable.

Not only will having an internship help entry-level employees get their foot in the door, but it will also make the transition into the workplace easier. Someone with internship experience is likely to get acclimated more quickly and become productive almost right away. Without that experience, it can be harder to get used to the expectations of the office.

Do Companies Ever Hire Their Interns?

Many companies end up permanently hiring interns after they’ve finished their term as an intern. That’s one of the reasons that internships are a big part of MBA programs. In addition to helping students and entry-level workers gain skills, an internship can also build the connections needed to get into a competitive industry.

Obviously, companies don’t hire every intern they work with. An intern has to prove themselves and make an excellent impression so that their value to the company is clear. This is a fantastic way for young people to get started on their career journey.

The Downsides of Getting an Internship

There are lots of benefits to getting an internship, but there are some potential pitfalls that people need to be aware of. Some organizations use interns as a source of cheap or free labor, rather than teaching them the ins and outs of their industry. This is not only frowned upon, but it can also be illegal.

Getting an internship will also probably mean looking for another job in a few months. Yes, some companies do hire their interns, but it isn’t guaranteed.

Choosing the right internship will reduce the likelihood of these pitfalls. Generally, getting an internship is a smart choice for college students and recent grads who are having trouble breaking into their field.

The Best Ways to Get an Internship

The easiest way to get an internship is through a school program. Most universities offer internship programs for graduate students (and often undergrads, too) that allow them to earn college credit while interning. This can greatly boost the value of a degree overall.

Those who are no longer in school can leverage their network to find an internship or browse job postings. Typically, non-academic internships require a standard job application and hiring process.

An internship can be a great way to open doors for people who are just getting started in their careers. It just needs to be the right internship.

Published: October 5, 2022

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Andrew Deen

Andrew Deen has been a consultant for startups in almost every industry from retail to medical devices and everything in between. He implements lean methodology and is currently writing a book about scaling up business. Twitter @AndrewDeen14.

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