- Internships are short-term positions offered by organizations and institutions to help people learn and gain experience in their field.
- Internships can be an important step in your academic or professional development journey.
- You can pursue several types of internships, including externships, summer internships, semester internships and college internships.
A college or vocational program can help prepare you for your future career. However, in today’s competitive job landscape, relevant first-hand experience is paramount to landing a job. Completing an internship can help you gain the critical experience you need to bridge the gaps in your education and professional skill set. Internships are valuable experiences that can help you increase your knowledge about your chosen industry.
As you gain more experience, you can better understand what career path is right for you. Below, we discuss what internships are in more detail, why they are important and the different types of internships.
What Is the Meaning of “Internship?”
An internship is a temporary position offered by an organization that hires some employees as interns. The internship position helps the organization, but it also helps interns gain practical work or research experience.
Internships are valuable work experiences because they offer opportunities to learn more about a chosen industry, hone professional interests and sharpen industry skills. Interns tend to be students, recent graduates or people looking to gain experience in their chosen field. This type of position can be paid or unpaid and can occur at any time. Some students may complete an internship during the school year or while they are on summer or winter break.
Why Are Internships Important?
Internships are important because they can be a critical step in your academic career or a first step in your professional development journey. Benefits of internships include the opportunity to attain new skills, knowledge and experiences you did not previously have before. When you get the chance to work with professionals in your desired industry, you can learn more technical skills.
An internship can provide you with an opportunity to apply what you learned in a classroom to real-life situations. Working for an organization as an intern will also help you improve and acquire essential soft skills like communication, time management, problem-solving, organization and teamwork. Completing an internship can also open doors to job opportunities after you graduate or help you understand what career path you want to take.
Types of Internships
Given that there are a variety of different organizations, institutions and industries, you can pursue several types of internships. Internships range from summer internships to semester internships and externships to college internships. Each type requires a certain level of skill and credentials, but each provides great opportunities to learn.
Regardless of the type you pursue, you will undoubtedly learn something that can help your career trajectory. Below is a list of internship types available to interested and qualified seekers.
Summer internships occur between spring and fall semesters. These internships are a great chance for students to focus completely on work without distractions from school.
Since summer is a popular time to intern, you may get the opportunity to meet and network with interns from other institutions. Growing your network during an internship can help you build connections with people who can help you learn and open the door to future job opportunities.
A semester internship occurs during the academic year and usually lasts longer than a summer internship. This type of internship can be difficult because you need to balance your academic and internship workload.
To help with balance, your required internship hours may be fewer than 40 hours per week. This type of internship can also last for two full semesters and is sometimes called a one-year internship. In this type of internship, the first semester is usually an unpaid, onboarding period, while the second semester may include payment and more responsibilities.
An externship is a short internship program that can provide you with insight into the operations of an organization. Externships can be as short as a day or last a couple of weeks. They usually occur during the school year as a part of a curriculum.
This type of program is a good option for you if you are interested in multiple fields of work, since you can quickly gain real-world experience.
Robert F. Smith's Efforts To Create Internship Opportunities
Philanthropist and entrepreneur Robert F. Smith is a fierce believer in the importance of internships. Through his experience as an intern at Bell Labs, Smith understands how internships can help businesses thrive and create onramps for interns looking to start their careers, especially those from underrepresented communities. As a part of his own commitment to creating opportunities for others, Smith joined the NAF’s Board of Directors as Vice Chairman.
NAF is an organization that aims to help students in high school prepare for college or a career post-graduation. To help further the organization’s mission, Smith pledged $15 million to NAF. This investment will help create internship opportunities and enable NAF academies to continue to grow and provide career-focused curricula to underserved communities.
Follow Smith on LinkedIn to learn more about topics like this and others.