An internship is a formal training program offered by an employer to potential employees. Interns may work part-time or full-time with potential employers for a specified length of time. Usually, internships are very popular with undergraduate and graduate students, as these are the types of people who are looking to gain real world experience in their chosen area of study. Internships may be paid or unpaid, depending on the type of work and the level of experience of the intern.

Why should you bother getting an internship? Finding a job can be a challenge in today’s hyper-competitive work environment. What makes finding a job even tougher is if you don’t have any work experience. Internships are a great way for freshers, graduates and people looking for a job-change to gain valuable experience in a real-world work environment.

Here are eight benefits of an internship programme:

Acquire valuable work experience

One of the most important benefits of an internship programme is the hands-on learning it provides. The performance of real day-to-day tasks on the job is something which cannot be taught in a classroom setting. Aside from picking up the specialized skills associated with a particular career path, interns are trained in soft skills such as formal communication, teamwork and knowledge of computer programs.

Explore a potential career path

Taking on a specific internship allows students to get real insight into what that particular career path looks like. Students who have long decided their career paths often change their minds if their internship experience doesn’t give them a fulfilling work experience. An internship is like the test drive of a potential future life.

Develop and build skills

Your skills are put to the test at an internship and you will receive valuable feedback from superiors about things that you’re doing right and areas you need to improve on. The internship period is probably the only time you are allowed to make mistakes as you are not expected to be an expert when you’re starting out. Ask plenty of questions and observe how and what others around you are doing to get the best of this experience.

Get an edge in the job market

College graduates with prior internship experience have an edge over those who have blank spaces below the “work experience” header in their CV. For recruiters, more experience usually means less training required for a new hire. Your internship experience represents a chance to stand out from the crowd and even start off with higher-pay than less experienced joinees.

Build your professional network

An internship is your first taste of the corporate world. It’s your chance to deliver great results and impress your seniors, who may end up being your colleagues at a later stage of your career. Building a good rapport with your colleagues and seniors can prove to be invaluable to your overall career growth. 

Receive financial compensation

Some internships offer financial compensation to interns. The ability to earn and spend your own money and pay your own bills is liberating for any college graduate. 

Boost your confidence

Your internship period is the time you can sharpen your skills and boost your overall self esteem. It’s your first chance to prove yourself in the real world.

Get hired

Many corporations use internships to identify high-performing talent and offer a select few permanent positions. Even if you aren’t presented with an offer right away, a promising intern may be offered a position down the line when a position opens up. 

So next time you have some free time and you hear of an internship position opening up at one of your dream companies, make sure you apply!