There are many great articles and blogs about the value of doing an internship, so I thought I’d write one from a students perspective on why I did an internship and what I learnt from it.
It’s July 2011, and I’ve just finished my second year of uni and I am due to do a gap year working…however there was one problem… I had nowhere to work!
My initial intention was to work somewhere like a shop for the year…but then I thought it’d be worth applying for somewhere that could help me in my career. So the idea of doing an internship was very appealing to get into the job area that I loved the most, marketing.
One of things I noticed was that many of the internships I looked at were three months and were unpaid. So my plan was to do three 3 month internships throughout the year to gain as much experience as possible…and also meant I had to start saving money!
I eventually found the perfect internship for a digital recruitment agency in London with the job title of a Marketing Intern…applied for it and was ecstatic to get it.
The first four months of my internship were unpaid with just expenses paid, but then from January 2012 I was fortunate enough that the position became a paid one, which for me was so overwhelming and amazing that my work was valued enough to become a paid member of the team. Something which I’m extremely grateful for.
My internship lasted up until August 2012 which meant I had worked an entire year. For me this was brilliant considering when I signed my contract to join it was for two months and unpaid. So to stay an entire year and for it to be paid showed that working for free does have its rewards in the end if you work hard and embrace the company’s culture.
So here are some of the reasons why I took an internship and what I learnt:
The Work Experience
This is probably the most important reason why I took an internship. I had virtually no work experience at all…apart from three weeks work experience in Year 11. So the idea of taking an internship was to build up the experience on my CV.
The great thing about the internship was that I could find out about the working environment and what a normal day entails…and the London commute. Also the experience of interacting with fellow employees, being part of a team and generally being involved in whatever goes on during the working day was something I hadn’t experienced really ever before, so it was incredibly valuable.
The Life/Social Experience and Meeting New People
For me there are two types of experiences, the ones you gain from the daily working environment and the ones you get outside of that. Doing an internship was a perfect chance to meet a group of new people that weren’t from school or uni or even people my age. I was extremely lucky that every person I met and worked with were just awesome and so welcoming & helpful. This ensured that I made friends there that will stay with me forever.
But it was the small things like going out for lunch with work mates, finding out what interests people have, meeting different personalities, going for a drink after work or attending the work Christmas party which were all part of the life and social experience of working during the year.
Learning New Skills and Developing Existing Ones
Another reason I took an internship was to learn new skills and develop the ones I’m already competent in. The internship definitely achieved this as I picked up so many new skills both personal and professional whilst working such as the added responsibility and being independent, self-confidence, the ability to adapt and many more. But there were skills which I had that I wanted to improve further such as my creativity, organisation, marketing & business knowledge and working in a team.
One area which I feel I developed a lot was my ability to be motivated and driven. This was exemplified by the fact I was unpaid for four months, which for some people might not motivate them. So it was good that I was motivated to perform tasks to the highest possible standard even though I wasn’t being paid. But it was without doubt the work experience that was more valuable than money.
These skills haven’t just helped me with my final year at uni, but will for my entire working life.
Learning about Marketing and Digital
The one area which has always interested me in business is marketing, so the internship was an opportunity to see what type of career it could be. It was very useful to find out what working in a marketing team entailed and the kind of marketing activities that the team does such as the social media presence, organising events, managing the website, researching and creating marketing related material.
Also working in the digital industry has made me decide that this is the career path that I want to get into, something the internship was a valuable experience to find out.
Getting into One of the Fastest Growing Industries
I didn’t realise it until I started working in the industry, but digital is huge! It’s well-known that many companies are expanding their digital operations, whether that’s starting a social media presence, developing an app, a better website or just budgeting more for online marketing than offline. But being in this fast-paced, creative and dynamic industry was a great introduction to work. It was ideal as being involved in digital recruitment meant I didn’t just learn about one aspect of digital marketing, but a broad range of areas ranging from web design to mobile to search.
Making New Contacts
An internship gave me the opportunity to meet a number of people who hopefully when I leave uni can help me find a job in digital. This was another reason for doing an internship as the old saying of ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’,might be true.
So those are some of the reasons why I chose to do an internship and I would recommend it to anyone. Even if you aren’t lucky enough to get paid I found that the experience you can put on your CV shows you’re committed to that career or job area and that you’re motivated not by money but for experience you can gain which is essential in these tough economic and employment times.
Thanks for reading. Please feel free to comment on my blog with your thoughts. Or you can follow me on Twitter for digital news @digitalstuart.