I’m thinking of doing an internship. Is it worth it?
Whether a recent graduate or current student, competing for entry level positions can get very tough. There are too many students, and too few jobs, and many young people are turning to internships to get valuable work experience. Some people starting out in the workforce find internships invaluable experiences that help them establish a professional network, and some young people end up regretting that they went for an unpaid internship over something that guarantees an income.
What are my rights?
If you are a paid intern, you should have all the same rights as any other employee, unless otherwise stated. Benefits and perks are unlikely to be included in an internship compensation package, so don’t count on dental, stock options, or any other “nice to have” benefit that companies might voluntarily provide. As an intern, you should have support for professional growth, training, and development, as this is the point of an internship. The rights of a paid intern should not differ from a human resources perspective. If the contract is terminated after the probationary period, you should still receive some sort of severance package, and you can file a complaint if you are not given a proper notice period.
If you are thinking of doing an unpaid internship, be aware that from the perspective of HR, you will be looked upon essentially as a volunteer. You aren’t really an employee of the company, you are there to gain experience, so take whatever you can and learn from it. Don’t count on the company to support your learning initiatives, as they aren’t actually investing in you. Don’t be shy about asking for what you need to support your professional development. You are basically paying the company with your time, so make sure that you are getting a return on your investment!
Internships: are they worth it?
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Internships are beneficial because the current generation of young people faces a lot of competition, especially when first trying to break into the work force. Anything you can find to differentiate yourself from another student is going to help you get established in your career. Internships can be worth it even just by teaching students how they should act when part of a business or organization. How a business executes projects, how the company operates, and how to communicate to colleagues are all important.
Any form of exposure you can get to a business/organization – how projects are executed, how a company operates, how to communicate. Don’t undervalue the experience even if it feels like you are doing menial work. Corporate exposure will help just by picking up business etiquette – one thing ppl often neglect to focus on. That is grooming and training that you can’t really learn from school. Observe all the physical aspects of people culture, how they sit, how they act, how they dress – this will help you later
Can I afford it?
If you have found an internship that will get your foot in the door of your chosen career and pays you enough to sustain your lifestyle, jump at the chance to establish yourself!
If you are considering an unpaid internship, the question of whether it will be worth it for you is a little more complicated. Consider if you can affort to support yourself with your savings over the term of the internship. If not, how will you fill the gap? Will taking on a part-time job be feasible? Can you save money by living with your family or room mates? Will you be filling the gap with student loans? How much debt will you need to take on to gain work experience, and how long will it take to pay off at an entry level salary? Make sure you crunch the numbers and understand exactly how much debt you will be taking on after buying food, lunches, paying for transportation and rent, your phone, and any other incedentals that won’t go away just because your pay cheque does. Will the debt be justified by a more lucrative career option later? Treat the decision similarly to how you would evaluate whether or not it is worth it to go to a post-secondary institution, as in taking on an unpaid opportunity, you are the one making the investment. Understanding the terms of your investment, both in time and money, is central to deciding whether the investment will be worthwhile.