Traditional internships can be expensive, require long-term commitment and, in some countries, unpaid internships (if they meet certain criteria) are now even illegal. We’ve probably all associated the role of an intern with negative stereotypes - endless coffee runs, mundane photocopying, and a limited role being the social underdog.
But the times they are a-changin! Internships are not what they used to be. It’s time for a change in mind-set. If you wade through all the material online, you’ll find a mix of traditional and modern information, which paints a pretty confusing picture. However, let’s get the record set straight.
Modern opportunities for millennials
Modern internship programs have evolved to put the personal and professional development of the intern first. Placement agencies have especially designed experiential opportunities, that are focused on structured learning journeys, suitable even for entry-level engagement in a career field. By prioritizing the engagement of the individual who’s investing their time, energy and finances in an internship program (rather than the needs of a company or organization who just want a “gofer”) the “coffee runner” stereotypes of the past have become obsolete.
Short-term or long-term commitment?
The term “externship” is often used to describe internship-like opportunities, that require a shorter minimum duration commitment. Short-term opportunities provide an experiential, entry-level introduction to a vocational field. However, longer term participation on an internship program allows time for a more integrated, immersive experience, in which an individual has greater scope to develop their responsibility and independence. What is right for you (short term or long term commitment) may be influenced by budget and scheduling considerations.
Freedom to choose
Forget committing 6 to 12 months to an internship that costs the earth - especially on top of a student loan repayment obligation. Even if there’s the vague promise of a job at the end of it, old school internships (and the “competitive edge” they promised) were traditionally reserved for the financially well-off, who could afford long-term unpaid effort. Modern internships opportunities are more attainable, flexible, and offer the valuable freedom to choose:
- A duration that will not conflict with other work and study priorities
- A program field of work that best matches interests and career ambitions
- An internship destination abroad that fulfils personal travel goals
- An acceptable financial commitment that can be budgeted for in advance