This column is not about whether we should allow people to do internships or not.
This column is about why you should go out and look for as many internships as you can.
There a number of questions surrounding internships in Australia; What internships are legal? Should all university students be required to undertake one? Do interns steal jobs from recent graduates who are having trouble getting a job?
Frankly, I am not concerned about these questions right now.
Because, I have done three internships now, with a fourth one coming up. And I can say, without a shadow of doubt, that internships have taught me more than I will ever be able to learn in a lecture hall.
There have been so many valuable lessons, discoveries and opportunities that have been borne from the internships I have been lucky enough to complete.
I have learnt about my industry; not all facets of it yet, but so many. Including things I would not have even thought of- things that have proven to be incredibly important that just aren’t covered in the confined walls of a classroom.
I have learnt the importance of presentation and how different people can different organisations can work together. I have seen and learnt from people in roles that I wouldn’t even know were needed if I hadn’t been out there in the real world.
I have met people whose careers I idolised long before I stepped into their day to day office life and watched them hard at work behind the scenes. Not only have I met these people, but I have worked with them and been mentored by them. Now we kiss on the cheek and exchange small talk when we run into each other, and I can call on them if I ever need a hand with anything.
I have met people whose careers I had a crush on even though I didn’t know they existed. As I discovered more about the day to day work life of a person or a role, I came to realise that I could see myself doing that one day.
I have learned about what is important in different workplaces- some will have very strict dress codes, a clear chain of hierarchy and some days will be back to back meetings. Other workplaces, you can rock up in sequins, ask for advice in your personal life and have a morning meeting that is crossed with a stretch class.
Most importantly, you learn what you like and what you don’t like. This is such valuable knowledge to have when entering the workforce; it allows you to know what you love and what you don’t love, gives you a framework for which jobs you want to apply for and what is a good cultural fit for you.
In short, there is nothing you can learn in a classroom that will match the real world experience that an internship can provide. Go, find a company you are interested in, and email them NOW about their internship program. What have you got to lose?
Have you done an internship? Tell me about it below!