Internship & The Role of an Intern

What is an internship? An internship is a period of work experience offered by an organization for a limited period of time. They are typically undertaken by students and graduates looking to gain relevant skills and experience in a particular field. An internship consists of an exchange of services for experience between the intern and the organization. Internships are used to determine whether the intern still has an interest in that field after the real-life experience. Internships provide current college students with the ability to participate in a field of their choice to receive hands-on learning about a particular future career, preparing them for full-time work following graduation.

Internships are usually short-term. They’re smaller investments in time and energy than full-time jobs. But they are certainly without a doubt a great investment of your time. Consequently, they’re perfect opportunities to explore your options. You deserve work that’s fulfilling. If necessary, you can sign up for a different but related internship role elsewhere to see if you’re happier there.

Your internship is going to shape the course of your career. It’ll assist you in acquiring the skills you need to perform up-to-par when you’re hired full-time. It’s essential you use your internship as the training opportunity it represents.

You’re sure to have a bright future if you work hard, build positive relationships, and use the skills you develop in your internship to your advantage.

Who is an intern?

An intern is a trainee who has signed on with an organisation for a brief period. An intern’s goal is to gain work experience, occasionally some university credit, and always an overall feel for the industry they’re interning in.

An intern is primarily a support role at least in the beginning. When you join up, your main job will be to assist, learn, and grow. After you’ve settled in, you’ll be expected to pull your own weight.

What does an intern do?

So, what does an intern do exactly? That depends on the industry in question and the kind of internship you’ve signed up for.

Here’s a general overview of the work you can expect to do as an intern:    

1. Assist and contribute to the team

In the beginning of your internship, you may your time simply trying to learn how the company works. You may shadow an employee to get an understanding of their role. After few days of learning the ins-and-outs of the company, you’ll start to assist and contribute more to the team. 

Here are some day-to-day intern roles and their responsibilities :  

  • Performing clerical duties
  • Managing social media and emails
  • Event handling
  • Research

2. Learn and gain experience

You’ll be expected to learn as much as you possibly can while you work, regardless of the kind of internship you’ve signed up for.

What kind of learning will you be doing? It can be broken down into two main areas :

  • Picking up hard skills : Hard skills are the technical skills you need to carry out your intern responsibilities, and eventually job duties, successfully.
  • Brushing up on your soft skills : Soft skills are as important as hard skills. Soft skills are all about your ability to relate to people and building mutually-beneficial relationships.

3. Job shadow

Job shadowing has become the norm recently. As the name suggests, the practice involves “shadowing” someone as they perform their daily duties, observing their activities, and learning what the role entails via indirect experience.

How does this work exactly? When you join the organisation, you may be assigned a mentor. The first few weeks, you may be tasked with following them around. Once you’ve shadowed for a while, you may be asked to help your mentor on projects or eventually take over some of their tasks.

4. Take on an increasing amount of responsibility

As time goes by, expect to shoulder an increasing amount of responsibility. Initially, they’ll gauge your current skill set and reliability with your initial workload. As you prove yourself to your colleagues and bosses, you’ll be entrusted with more crucial tasks. The better you perform, the more the responsibilities you’ll be given. Employers prefer quality over quantity – don’t afraid to ask for help if you need it. 

5. Make a career call 

Finally, usually at the tail-end of your internship, you have to make a career-defining decision: continue in the field you interned in or try your hand at something else entirely. You got a taste of what working in your industry full-time would be like. That’s the beauty of an internship you can always go into another field you would like. 

Why internships are beneficial?

Here are some reasons that expand on why an internship is essential to your personal and professional development:

  • Tests industry knowledge
  • Helps you figure out your interests
  • Creates new interests
  • Connects you to industry professionals
  • Allows you to learn in a safe environment
  • allows you to get paid to learn
  • Provides possible credit for your college degree
  • Allows you to potentially gain more internship opportunities
  • Creates a unique travel experience
  • Inspires you to learn more about an industry
  • Teaches you about the importance of work-life balance
  • Introduces you to office politics