Gone are the days when university students waited tables during the holidays to earn extra pocket money. These days, most of the people at Raffles Place in suits and ties are actually interns. The actual employees are the ones who change into flip flops the moment they arrive at the office.
If you’ve snagged the internship of your dreams, great. However, after four weeks of standing at the photocopying machine and taking coffee orders for the entire office during your internship, you might be wondering if they’re actually going to hire you.
Here’s the depressing news—most internships are not going to result in a job offer. In fact, companies in certain industries are less likely than others to offer their interns full-time positions.
That is not to say taking up an internship is going to be a complete waste of time if it doesn’t get you a job. Many ex-interns have gone on to find jobs through industry contacts made during an internship. And of course, part of the purpose of an internship is to determine if a particular job suits you to begin with.
Here are some factors that might help you predict whether your internship is going to land you that juicy job offer.
1. It’s in the right industry
Check out this graph on LinkedIn that indicates the percentage of internships leading to a full-time job in various industries.
Industries with high rates of offering interns full time posts include technology (both hardware and software), architecture, engineering and retail.
Industries with a low rate of intern retention include media, entertainment and government.
2. Chance to take on real professional work
In certain industries, interns are hired to assist with actual professional work instead of just running around making coffee for the bosses.
For instance, in the legal industry, interns often get to assist with drafting documents to be filed in court and conduct research. This gives outstanding interns a very real chance to impress their bosses.
On the other hand, in other industries such as media, interns are needed basically to help run errands and as an extra pair of hands for when things get crazy. It’s little surprise that actual professional opportunities in this field are scarce.
However, your own age and school level matter as well. These days, students as young as 15 are taking on internships, but because they’re barely out of diapers and so inexperienced, there’s little their bosses can really get them to do.
For instance law firms are seeing more and more secondary school interns, who usually end up helping their bosses sort out their business cards, do data entry and put up Christmas decorations around the office.
Unless you’re just there because you think the grey cubicle walls of an office offer the perfect surroundings in which to spend your school holidays, it’s probably a better use of your time to wait till you’re enrolled at university.
3. Networking opportunities
Companies with a formal internship programme in place often offer better networking opportunities than those without. For instance, companies used to taking in large numbers of interns usually match up an intern with a mentor, which enables the intern to get lots of valuable one-on-one time and to build up a relationship with their mentor.
It’s also useful to get to know other leaders in the organisation as well as other interns, which can make finding job leads when you graduate a lot easier.
A company that organises after-work activities and educational seminars will be easier to network in than one in which employees barely interact.
4. It’s a paid internship
Surveys have shown again and again that paid internships tend to yield far more professional opportunities than unpaid internships.
Employers who pay for interns are more likely to have them assist with professional work, offer them proper training and engage with them.
On the other hand, because unpaid interns tend to be underqualified or viewed as free labour, many of them slip through the cracks when the company is too busy to pay attention to them.
And if a company is in the habit of offering unpaid internships to everyone with a pulse, they have even less incentive to bother about you, since there’s a whole assembly line of others like you queuing up at the door.
Have you participated in any internships and did any of those lead to a job offer? Share your stories in the comments!
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