What You Need to Know About Internships


Find out how internships can expand your career opportunities.

Internships are one of the great ways for young professionals and students to learn about the career path they want. This article describes all that you need to know about internships.

What Is an Internship?

An internship is a short period, usually between eight and 12 weeks, during which an inexperienced person can gain work experience. In the past, internships were intended to last for summer vacation, a quarter, or a semester, but today they can be shorter or longer depending on the purpose.

Internships offer many benefits. Students and early career professionals can improve their professionalism, gain tips from the industry, and acquire new relationships and skills.

They can also gain insight into their interests, strengths, and weaknesses through real work experience.

Internships may bring new talent to the company from the employer’s perspective. In return, the employer receives valuable input, a boost in morale, and, in some cases, the opportunity to turn interns into permanent employees.

You may have one or more interns. A small company may have only one summer intern, while a large company may have a formal program with hundreds of interns in each department throughout the year.

Expansion of responsibilities

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports in its latest Job Openings and Turnover Survey that there are two job openings for each jobless person.

Employers could lower their work experience requirements as they face stiff hiring competition. The hiring freeze could also mean that this year’s interns will be given more responsibilities. Expanded duties could mean more meaningful work and a more significant competitive advantage in post-graduation interviews.

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The talent shortage also means that more interns may find themselves with “return offers,” with a job offer for the period after graduation. Students who distinguish themselves through diligence and excellence in summer internships have the opportunity to exit an internship program with solid career prospects.

Compensation for internship

Internships can be unpaid or paid, depending on the Department of Labor (DOL) criteria. The DOL’s “test” focuses on balance. Generally, if the employer earns more than the intern, the employer must pay for the work. However, if the task is more charitable, making the intern gain new experience, the job may not be paid.

The Society of Human Resource Managers states, “if an employer decides to offer an unpaid internship, there must be clear documentation that both the intern and the employer have agreed to the unpaid position.”

U.S. News surveyed 200 companies across various industries and discovered that 47.5% offer paid internships. The data show that technology companies are more likely to offer paid internships than companies in other industries.

Tech and Finance Lead Internship Compensation

As the job market heats up, intern salaries have risen the most in finance and technology. In a recent Bloomberg article, the author used Wall Street Oasis to track the wages of finance interns at leading companies, which range from $7,266 to more than $16,000 per month.

The article also notes that average monthly salaries for interns at high-tech companies are among the highest in the country, ranging from $6,667 at JP Morgan to $9,667 at Roblox Corp. With such high salaries, prospective interns pursuing master’s degrees or MBAs face stiff competition for these high-paying internships.

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However, most paid internships are not as rewarding as the news. Generally, interns are paid a salary commensurate with their entry-level skills and intended career path. Applicants should seek compensation comparable to other internship positions in the field and include similar duties.

The importance of mentors

Robert Shindell, president, and CEO of Internbridge, reminds employers that a good job description and reasonable compensation are not enough to make a good internship.

Sindell says, “Many college students take on internships to explore career opportunities in their field of interest and gain experience with different organizations in their area, but it’s vital that they have a mentor to help them through the process.

In top-notch programs, participants receive not only skills training but also the kind of personal development that a mentor can provide to an entry-level professional.

The future of internships

Accessing internships has never been easier: job boards like Handshake give students efficient access to available internships. Indeed, LinkedIn and other specialized sites allow employers to post internship positions and programs quickly.

This summer, the X-factor for many employers and students is the balance between remote and face-to-face work. As the debate continues to explore whether a remote career is as fulfilling and effective for skill development as face-to-face work, some employers have decided not to return to their formerly fashionable internship programs this summer.

Despite the hesitation of some employers, there is no doubt that participating in an internship is an essential milestone in university life. The popularity, availability and importance of internships to a successful post-graduation career will continue to grow.

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