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In today’s competitive job market, employees are looking for the best of the best. They want you to have a good looking resume, a list of extramural activities and of course, previous work experience. But where will you get experience if no one wants to hire you because they’re looking for someone with experience which you don’t have? The answer is simple, do an internship.

This is an opportunity to learn by doing and in a setting where you’re supervised by a workplace professional. You’ll also be able to achieve your own learning goals without the responsibilities of being a permanent employee. You’ll be mentored by someone, who won’t just mentor you for the duration of the internship but possibly throughout your career too.

This is where higher education meets employment. An internship can be paid or unpaid and it allows you to work within the company for a set period, usually three to six months. Here are a few benefits of doing an internship while studying or after graduation.

Make industry contacts

Sometimes it’s not about what you know but who you know. While it’s essential to know how to perform specific tasks, having a good set of industry contacts behind you can be just as vital in helping you secure a job. This is an excellent way to branch out from your university course into your specific industry and expand your list of contacts. You’ll be working with colleagues and developing professional working relationships, as well as meet a range of people in other departments. If you’re lucky, you may be asked to stay on in a more permanent role. Even if you don’t get asked, you’ll hopefully finish your internship with a great reference from your mentor. These references will be extremely helpful when you’re looking for a full-time job, so always remember to ask.

It’ll look great on your CV

Finding a job is difficult because the graduate job market is incredibly competitive. Having a CV that includes actual industry experience will be a valuable asset. It has the potential to make you stand out from the rest. If you’re, for instance, doing a project management training course and interned as an account manager, you’ll have the experience to join a client service or marketing team. Include everything on your CV as employers can read a lot from a sheet of paper. Also, having different internship experiences will show you’re keen to gain employment in the industry. It’ll also show that you have the right set of skills and enough experience to take on a permanent position.

You may get a full-time position

Spending a few months getting to know a company, its people and how it operates will put you in a good position if you ever want to work for the organisation. If you’re a graduate doing an internship, the next step in your career is likely to be to look for a permanent job. This is the opportunity to prove yourself as a hardworking, intelligent and capable professional. If there’s an entry level or junior position available at your company, as an intern you’re in a competitive position to be considered for the spot. In fact, the company will be more comfortable hiring someone who knows how the company runs as opposed to employing someone brand new who they’ll need to train. If they like you and the work you do, they’ll be more likely to hire you rather than a stranger.

Gaining valuable industry knowledge

Every career field operates differently. It also demands a separate set of skills and expertise. If you gain insider knowledge of a company in your specific field, it’ll help you prepare yourself for your career. You’ll also see whether you’re in the right career or not. University learning can only take you so far. You only improve your professional skills related to your career while on the job. While interning, you’ll gain practical experience and learn how to do your job well, rather than simply having the theory behind it.

The experience will narrow down your potential career choices

Doing an internship is a win-win situation. It can help you decide whether a specific career is or isn’t for you. Giving you the opportunity to narrow down the list of careers you’re interested in. If you didn’t enjoy your internship experience or don’t like the work being done, then at the very least it’ll have helped you determine that a particular job role isn’t for you. This is when you can move to another internship. Try out a different organisation, role or field and see if you like it more.

Don’t leave an internship until your final year of study. You might not get enough experience within that time. The more internships you do, the fuller your CV will become and the more attractive you’ll look to future employers.