subscribe: Posts | Comments

Internships 101

Internships 101

Ever wonder what an internship actually is and what kinds of internships are available? Have you considered how you will gain the relevant work experience employers are seeking in today’s job market?

Internships provide real world experience to those looking to explore or gain the relevant knowledge and skills required to enter into a particular career field. Internships are relatively short term in nature with the primary focus on getting on the job training and taking what’s learned in the classroom and applying it to the real world.

Should You Do An Internship?

What an Internship Can Do For You?
Three Reasons to Do an Internship

  • With more and more people doing internships, employers are coming to expect to see them listed on the resumes of potential employees. 
  • Internships often turn into job offers. All the more reason to do an internship and to take the job very seriously — it is the first impression you make on who may be a future employer. 
  • An internship is a great way to get an inside glimpse of a company, an industry, and a particular occupation. It can help you discover if the career you are considering is right (or wrong) for you. 
  • Two Reasons Not to Do an Internship
  • Internships either pay very little or nothing at all. If you absolutely have to earn money, you may decide against doing one. 
  • Internships sometimes involve performing menial tasks.

How to Find an Internship

  • Visit Your College Career Center: If you are currently attending college, your career center may be a good resource for finding internships.
  • Contact your SETA’s: SETAs can be a valuable source of providing these Internships. You should look at the industry you are in or interested in and contact the relevant SETA.

How to Evaluate an Internship Setting

  • Read the Internship Description: While many internships exist to nurture budding professionals, there are others which serve only to provide the employer with cheap (or free) labor. Make sure you are going to get what you need out of an internship.
  • Research the Company: Learn as much about the internship site as possible. This will not only help you decide whether a setting is a good one, but it will also make you a more knowledgeable interviewee.
  • Talk to Former Interns: You will want to hear about the experiences of those who went before you. Talk to students who have interned at the site in which you are interested. Talk to your college’s internship coordinator who may have kept a record of interns’ feedback or can provide you with the names of former interns

Internships Are Not for Students Only!
People usually think of internships as a way for students to get work experience before they graduate. Internships, however, don’t have to be for students only. An internship can also be helpful for someone changing his or her career or for someone who is returning to work after an extended absence.

For example, Lerato M. graduated with an M.B.A. a few years ago. Because of her lack of experience in the field she wants to enter, she has been having trouble getting hired. In an email she sent to me, Lerato says “I am bright, articulate and would be a valuable asset to any organization willing to hire me in a business related role.” She also said she’d be willing to do volunteer work to get the experience she needs. Lerato wanted to know if I had any suggestions.

I did have one suggestion. “Look into doing an internship,” I said in an email I sent off to Lerato. Although it wouldn’t pay much, or anything at all, an internship would give her hands-on training, something to put on her resume, and possibly a foot in the door. Lerato’s response? “Aren’t internships just for students or recent graduates?”

While interns are usually students or recent graduates, others can gain necessary work experience this way. Internships are generally unpaid but they provide an invaluable opportunity to learn about a field by actually working in it. Seems like this is something that would benefit anyone trying to enter a new field, not just a student. It would also benefit an employer who would get an intern with actual work experience, albeit not in that field, and a willingness to learn. Traditional interns don’t have the experience and the maturity of someone who has been out of school for a while.

Students usually take part in formal internship programs. These programs run concurrent with the academic year. Non-students may want to look for something less formal. If you are entering a new field or re-entering the workforce after an extended absence you may have to “create your own” internship experience.

  • Try contacting the school from which you graduated. The career services office should have some suggestions.
  • Look at your network. Is there anyone who could provide you with a training opportunity? Maybe someone in your network can hook you up with a colleague who can provide you with such an opportunity.
  • Join a professional association and network with the other members. One may be willing to establish an informal internship.
  • Contact local employers. Explain your situation and tell them what you can do for them. Explain that you are willing to volunteer your time in exchange for the chance to learn about the field in which you’re interested.

It may take a bit of effort to get an internship and you will definitely have to work hard for little or no money. You may even have to take another job to support yourself until you can get a paid position in your chosen field. The experience you gain will make it worthwhi

SETAs offer a range of Learning Programmes, I cannot stress how important it is that you find out the opportunities available from your SETA. We have featured some of the SETAs and what they have to offer.

For more information on Sector Education and Training Authorities please visit their websites below or

Comments are closed.