Internships can be a fantastic opportunity to bridge the gap between studying and full-time employment, while providing invaluable, relevant work experience.
Don’t become a statistic (for the wrong reasons!)
There’s still time to redress the balance if you haven’t found that ideal job six months after graduation! Just to put things in place: Of the 256,350 UK-domiciled graduates who responded to the Higher Education Statistics Agency’s Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey for 2012/13:
- 70% were in employment and 7.3% were unemployed
- 6% were working and studying at the same time
- 6% had continued with further study or training
- Average salaries of graduates employed full-time in the UK ranged from £18,615 to £22,785, depending on their occupation
You can check out graduate employability by looking at the 2014 edition of What do graduates do? (Published by the Higher Education Careers Services (HECSU) and AGCAS) which gives graduate destinations by subject.
Undertaking an internship either while you study or after graduation is highly recommended because it:
Builds up your CV
Many graduates are placed in an employment limbo after university due to a lack of relevant experience in their field. Volunteering for a cause close to your heart will only ever be beneficial for your job hunting efforts, however it needs to be coupled with an opportunity for practical experience that relates back to your desired job role.
An internship can fill undesirable gaps in your employment history that are often a turn off for recruiters and HR personnel. Looking for a job while in any sort of employment is always viewed favourably over someone who is not putting their time to good use.
Depending on your sector, an internship can bolster your portfolio of work, which is one of the first things a recruiter will ask for. Having recent pieces in an up-to-date portfolio will set you apart from other applicants, who might only be able to show university work; this cannot compare to ‘real world’ examples.
Even if you aren’t offered a full-time role after the internship has ended, you will take away a reference that can differentiate you from the crowd of budding graduates.
Online networking sites such as LinkedIn are a great way to support your online presence, however they lack in unique opportunities. With little experience to your name, networking is your greatest ally, and is often seen as being more valuable than the work experience itself.
Internships provide you with the opportunity to rub shoulders with professionals in your chosen field. No one is expecting you to dine with the CEO on the first day, but start small, reach out to those who are easiest to approach first, who can identify with you. Having a good word put in about you, before you make the approach to anyone higher up will give you a great head start – as they will already have a positive image of you.
By networking you are increasing your chances of being kept on in a full-time role, or put on a graduate scheme. Even when there is no full-time role available, there is always the possibility of your name being passed on, expanding your employment opportunities.
Here’s a collection of links to help you in your internship search:
Oliver Moore, Performics