The Professional Battle Between Internships & Real Work Experience

Internships & Real Work Experience

Internships and real work experience are just two of the terms that you might hear when talking about gaining experience in the workplace. While they might sound the same, you’ll want to make sure that you have a firm understanding of the two before you apply to either one so that you’ll know just what you’re getting yourself into.

Length

The first important distinction is that work experiences will usually only last for two weeks or so. With an internship, you’ll more than likely work for more than a month. As a matter of fact, an internship could quite possibly last you as much as a full year.

Age

With certain work experiences, you might have to be 18 or older and currently enrolled in school. Depending on your major, you may be required to complete work experience in order to have a solid chance of breaking into your industry. Work experiences are truly valuable in this day and age where you need solid experience in order to qualify for jobs.

With an internship, you might be able to find one once you’ve completed your degree program and are ready to get started on your chosen career. With some degree programs, students might have to find their own internships.

Payment

While everyone would like to get paid for their internship, there might be times where you have to accept an unpaid internship or two before you can qualify for paid positions. You might want to look into at least getting your travel and lunch expenses taken care of should you choose to accept an unpaid internship so that the financial burden won’t be too hard on you. In any case, it’s always best to check and verify what is and isn’t paid for with any internship that you’re considering.  

What You’ll Be Doing

Since work experiences don’t last for a very long time, it’s doubtful that you’ll have very much responsibility while you’re there. You might find yourself helping out your colleagues, getting coffee, and getting an overall feel of the day-to-day goings on of the business. While this might seem a bit like a waste of time, this type of work experience is actually a great way to make contacts and learn about future paid job opportunities.

Since internships last longer, you’ll have greater tasks as well as greater independence. There’s also a better chance that you’ll learn new skills and that you’ll be able to make a better impression on your employer, which can help you to earn a full-time position once your internship has come to a close.

Whether you choose a work experience or an internship, try to stay as long as possible so that the people who work there will get to know you better and so that you can get to know them better. Something else to consider is the idea that the longer you’re there the more responsibility that you might be trusted with, which can seriously help when trying to show them what you can really do.  

If you’re trying to decide between work experience and an internship, it can never hurt to do both if at all possible. While you might learn more with an internship, there’s still the fact that you can make some valuable connections through a work experience.