How to Make Graduate Internships a Success

How to Make Graduate Internships a Success

What is a graduate internship?

A graduate internship is a part- or full-time, temporary assignment of a graduate student to a job at an employer in a field related to his or her area of study. A typical internship places a student under the supervision of an experienced manager for the duration of the employment in order to learn as much as possible about the industry. Internships are common in business and communications career paths, for which hiring managers give preference to candidates with prior work experience.

Check out: Internships – an Excellent Start to a Career Needed for an MBA

University or B-school affiliations

Most of the time, an internship is the fulfilment of an arrangement between the university or B-school and the employer, and it has to meet certain conditions to qualify as an official, school-sponsored internship. There may even be a formal contract involved. The university agrees to provide the employer with screened candidates, and the employer agrees to provide an educational, beneficial opportunity for the student, and sometimes to complete an evaluation of the student or programme.

Most schools have an internship programme that approves positions and manages the relationships between students and employers, but some do not. EADA Business School (Spain) has no formal internship programme, but rather stresses that internships are “extra-curricular.”

Before looking at alternative options, however, find out if your school requires an internship as part of its Master’s degree programme. If so, you will need to make certain that it approves your internship before you begin. That way, you can be sure it will count towards the degree requirement.

Internship details

Internships vary widely in type, duration, compensation, and many other factors. You will want to consider your own needs carefully before beginning your search. First, some internships are designed specifically for the length of the summer break, and others, such as those offered by Loughborough University (UK), are designed to start with the beginning of the school year. Internships also range in length, from weeks to months, and some have no definite ending date. Some internships offer monetary compensation and some pay nothing at all.

You will want to get as many details as you can about the opportunity before you agree to anything, and ensure that you are perfectly clear on your obligations. In addition, if you are an international student, you will need to check with your school to find out how an internship may affect your student or work visas.

Check out: Internships Matter

Benefits of  graduate internship

Apart from the valuable exposure to a real-world work environment, there are many other benefits to be gained from a graduate internship. You will make all sorts of industry contacts, and you may even secure a letter of recommendation from one or more of them, which is a great addition to a resume or CV.

There can be substantial financial benefits to a graduate internship as well. A paid internship can help with living expenses or tuition, and studies have suggested that employers offer higher starting salaries to candidates that have this type of experience.

In addition, some employers use internship programmes as a steady source of permanent employees, and their interns have a higher-than-average chance of transitioning into becoming an employee.

Dan Pickering completed his internship at 3M after his first year of the Kelley Full-time MBA Programme. This experience led to a full-time offer for Dan from the Fortune 500 company. The internship was not just a learning experience, but also a professional challenge. Dan shares:

Expectations are high. You are with a lot of smart people. They are asking you to solve some of their toughest business problems and the internship is really a chance to showcase everything that you have learned before business school, during B-school and put a lot of it in practice. The experience has been phenomenal in terms of growth.

Make your internship a success in just 3 steps

 Search as if it were a permanent job.

You may be overwhelmed by the number of opportunities available, but if you look carefully enough, you can find a gem. Conduct thorough research on the opportunities that are available. Find a position that suits your interests and meets your criteria for a permanent employer. Choosing an internship quickly to meet a programme requirement will not benefit you or the employer.

If your school has a formal internship programme, it can be your first step in a search for a graduate internship. You could also look online, as there are many search engines devoted to finding you the right position by helping you select a preferred location, duration, or manner of compensation.  If you have a specific company you would love to work for someday, find out if they have an internship programme. Even if they do not, you could find out if they would be open to establishing one.

Prepare as if it was a permanent job.

After you are hired, but before you begin your job, use the time to prepare carefully for the position. You may need to brush up on certain skills, or research your employer’s recent products or media campaigns. Arrive on the first day well prepared and informed.

In order to focus your efforts during the graduate internship, ensure to also prepare a set of expected learning outcomes. The University of Calgary (Canada) advises:

They will enable you to focus during your internship and ensure you get the most value from your experience. Learning outcomes can help you highlight in your CV/resume what you have achieved. Therefore, make a list of the skills you want to improve, learn or develop during your internship. List the tasks or projects you will work on or accomplish during your internship. Look at your lists and choose the three to five most relevant.

Perform as if it was a permanent job.

Although the position is temporary, treat it like it is permanent. You will want to make the best possible impression while you are there. Learn intently, and do not be afraid to ask questions. This can be just as valuable a learning experience as an academic course. In fact, the internship programme at HEC Montreal (France) actually counts the internship as the equivalent of a course as long as certain requirements are met.

Many leading international companies, such as Apple, welcome interns and create a learning environment for students to thrive, take their ideas and passion to the next level and develop their skills working with some of the best minds in the business.

At Apple, interns are an important part of the team. Whether you sign on for a summer internship or a co-op during the academic year, you can work on critical projects, in the U.S. and around the world. As part of the Apple community, you’ll get a unique perspective on our process and those who lead it.

 A graduate internship offers the best opportunity for you to experience employment behind the scenes in the industry about which you are most passionate and, quite simply, it may be one of the straightest paths to permanent employment possible.


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