What is an Internship?

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Whether you are a high school or college student or a recent college graduate, it can be worth your while to find an internship. Working as an intern can provide all sorts of benefits, practical and potential, at various stages of your learning journey. A good one can provide you with knowledge and skills in a field of study you’re interested in or in a potential professional field. Read on to learn about the various types of internships you might encounter and some of the reasons why it can be a good idea to pursue them.

Kinds of of Internships

When most people think of internships, one of the first things they wonder is whether or not they will be paid. The answer is…sometimes. Internships can be either paid or unpaid. If you end up working for a company in an unpaid internship, there are federal and sometimes state guidelines that the company has to follow. If you are a college student and you are not paid, sometimes you can still receive some practical benefit from your intern work in the form of college credit toward graduation.

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Other classifications of internships involve when you work. Semester-long or year-long internships are common, but you can also find ones which span summer, spring, or winter breaks. And though many internships take place during someone’s college years, it is not too early to look for internships when you’re still in high school. At that stage, you may not yet have a firm idea of what you want to major in during college, or even if college is the right path for you career-wise. Spending time exploring different types of jobs and skills can give you a chance to discern just those kinds of questions.

Practical and Other Benefits

The tangible benefits of money and academic credit are helpful elements to consider when you’re looking at internships, but sometimes they are worth doing for the less tangible things they offer. If you have a chance to intern with professionals who are willing to mentor you in a field in which you’re really interested, whether that is film making, cooking, advertising, farming, or publishing, you can gain skills that will assist in readying you for a real job. Doing a good job as an intern can help you in another way: a significant percentage of interns are hired for jobs with the companies they intern with, another advantage.

When looking for internships, it can be important to pay attention to many different factors, not just whether or not you will be paid. Talking to people who have worked for a given company or held certain internships in which you’re interested might be your best guide as to whether it’s worth your while. If you know that you’ll be given guidance and attention in ways that will help you to gain skills and explore a given profession, then those factors may outweigh others, even lack of pay. If you can combine a paid or credit internship with gaining good new skills, then that’s a particular bonus.