Internships are great, but are they worth the time and effort?
When I was a junior in college, I dedicated my entire summer to an internship. I finished my Spring semester and jumped right into working as an unpaid intern. This meant two months of my summer was booked and only my weekends were my holiday. I don’t regret it; I gained confidence, skills and made great connections.
While many recognize the merits, too many college students are unenthusiastic about getting into internship programs, especially in Saudi. I’ve struggled to understand why considering internships are the perfect way to get your foot in the door. Perhaps companies don’t advertise opportunities properly or the students associate internship with boring unpaid work. In general, though, summer jobs and training programs don’t seem to be a priority when the summer can be spent travelling the world. Both have its merits, of course, but what lasts long term?
The best reason to do an internship is to get experience in the professional field of your choice. In fact, if you’re unsure about your career path, do an internship in the field of your interest before you choose that as your major. It could only be a couple of weeks, but those weeks will help you know more about the field. This will make your CV stronger and give you better insight for the future.
Most college programs incorporate internships in the academic plans. This is an excellent move that most students don’t appreciate. Through this internship you can get in touch with many potential employers. Not everyone wants to get a job after college, but the work experience and formal environment does not hurt. One drawback of college internships is the huge tuition fees that come with it. I personally don’t understand why internships are marked with credit hours; it comes off as a moneymaking scheme.
More on the professional environment; if you have a family business don’t work for your Dad as an intern – it’s likely you will be too comfortable. It’s essential for interns to experience the professional and formal code of conduct; this can really prepare them for the future. This is one of the top reasons internships are a win-win for both the employer and the intern.
The benefits include you learning to be punctual, maintaining professional decorum and practicing skills you already have and discovering new ones. As an intern I discovered my passion for editing texts and working in the publishing world. Moreover, you could land a fulltime position. I know quite a few students who were offered fulltime jobs for when they graduate.
I urge teenagers and college-goers to get internships before they even consider establishing themselves as employees or business owners. Here are my top guidelines for every intern:
- Be punctual.
- Keep your phone away unless you need it for work.
- Always ask for more work.
- Try to learn new skills.
- Get involved in different departments.
Internship programs to consider: Aramco, Unilever, and GE. Local newspapers like Saudi Gazette and Arab News offer internship positions as well.