As a graduate, you would ideally want to secure permanent employment before you complete your studies. With the unemployment rate for graduates being as high as it is in South Africa, it may be that you don’t find employment, but rather that you are presented with the opportunity to do an internship. The question begs, should you take the internship and if you do, will it be beneficial to your career in the future?
One of the biggest frustrations for an employer is onboarding graduates because of the time and resources that need to be put into this activity. Internships provide the perfect opportunity to learn about a working environment under the care of a mentor. In ordinary employment, a graduate is expected to have acquired the right amount of knowledge whilst completing their studies and should be able to jump into the position they applied for. This is more often not true and the fact of the matter is, every company has their own culture and manner in which they operate, and a graduate would have an ideal opportunity to learn about the nuances of the company if they enter as an intern. This puts a graduate in an opportune position to determine if they enjoy the environment and if they would want to continue to work there if they are offered a position after they complete their internships.
An internship also gives graduates an opportunity to learn more about various departments in a company which they would not have had access to if they were a permanent employee working in a specific department. Access to various departments also means access to more individuals which provides an opportunity to increase the graduates network. This is especially important because most graduates straight out of university, do not have a strong network of professionals and the single most important tool that anyone can have is a strong network of other employed individuals, both in their field and others because of the access to knowledge that it provides in various careers.
If a graduate is uncertain what they want to do with their degree after they have completed it, an internship is a great opportunity to attain work experience and flesh their CV which they might not have had time to do whilst completing their studies. It also shows future employers commitment from a student to pursue their goals because there are willing to work for no pay or menial pay.
There are no disadvantages to an internships per se and the value that a graduate can get from such an experience is also dependent on the attitude of the graduate. Graduates are encouraged to go above and beyond their duties during an internship so that they stand out to potential employers.
As a graduate then, should you take the internship, and will it be beneficial to your future? The absolute answer is yes. It adds value to your CV and provides you with much needed work experience and eases the process for employers with onboarding.