Internships: good, bad or ugly?


MPs discuss whether or not internships should be paid and how they affect our rights as human beings. Students discuss something different: should I or shouldn't I?

Not only can they take up most of your summer, but without support from the company you're working for, they can cost a fortune in travel costs, lunches, suits (as most of us are probably more comfortable in joggers by second year) and accommodation costs if the internship is far from home.

"But think of the experience you will get!" is the most common reaction to any doubts about internships. And yes, it will open doors, allow you to establish a network, make friends in the industry and maybe help you to realise that you don't want to pursue a career in banking after all. Those looking for ideas on what to do with the rest of their lives would appreciate this kind of narrowing down.

We've heard the horror stories; the guy who did twelve coffee trips in an hour; those harassed and grabbed; those who worked from morning until night with no compensation; those ignored; and those let go. I myself had a pleasant experience, with friendly staff and worthwhile tasks, my greatest fear was lack of knowledge as to where the loo was as I never received a proper 'tour' and was far too shy and anxious to ask.

But that was my own personal downfall. For many students, they're thrust into the workplace and expected to just "pick it up - you're in the real world now." Is too much expected of it? My sister spent her first day of work experience locked in a dog cage as it had shut behind her and nobody bothered to come looking for her. Is the real working world all about being locked in a cage and having to figure your own way out of it? It sometimes seems that way.

At the end of it all, internships are worth it. They are your first taste of the real world (apart from dealing with estate agents, if you're fortunate enough to have been spared that experience) and of the working world in which you will soon enter. An internship in the right place can confirm all your career choices and will consolidate your ideas of a future (or if in the wrong place may make you realise your ideas need a bit of tweaking and tugging back into reality). Most internships now offer remuneration to cover travel costs and food, but don’t be expecting to make a profit. They pay you in advice, connections, and experience.

Most importantly, it does look fantastic on your CV.

#tyro #internships #HIRED