Education used to be everything, but, today, academics are just one part of the package employers are looking for. Experience is becoming the deciding factor in who gets their foot in the door - and that's where an internship can make all the difference in the world.
Internships are all about opportunity. It's the opportunity to learn vital, on-the-job skills. It's the chance to make important contacts in the industry. It helps counter the difficulties of recession where so many businesses simply are not recruiting. And it gives graduates the ability to stand out from the crowd in a way that the normal recruitment process does not allow.
According to the West Midlands Graduate Internships (WMGI), there has been an overwhelming demand for graduates by local businesses in Birmingham and the Black Country. And it seems that more and more graduates are starting to realise the importance of widening their approach beyond traditional recruitment. That's because the benefits of doing an internship are so much greater than just a pay cheque.
Here are the top 10 benefits you can expect from an internship:
1. Gain valuable work experience
Making the transition from university to the real world isn't easy, but an internship helps you gain insight into your chosen career, and prove that you can successfully transfer your academic skills into a work setting.
2. Learn career skills
Practical skills, such as oral and written communication, and commercial awareness, cannot fully be developed in a classroom. Employers like to see that you've learned relevant, job skills so they know you can hit the ground running'.
3. Get the edge over your competition
Many employers prefer new applicants to complete an internship before they will look at hiring them. It's a crucial part of your CV because it gives employers solid, business-related reference points to measure your suitability for a role.
4. Build up important contacts
Working in your chosen field helps you tap into a network of people that may otherwise be closed. You'll forge relationships with key decision makers who can offer references, career advice, and information about new job opportunities.
5. Beef up your CV
Adding marketable skills to your academic qualifications makes you more well rounded, which makes you a better candidate for any job. Internships enhance and strengthen your CV, showing initiative, determination and ambition.
6. Get exposure to big brands
Big brands, like Marks & Spencer and Unilever, are in such demand by graduates that internships are becoming the only way in. Interning at these big companies develops a greater variety of skills, which makes you more employable.
7. Opportunity to sell yourself
Employers want to see that you can live up to your qualifications and perform in a given role. It's like an extended interview - you have the opportunity to prove that you are capable, hardworking, and a potential asset to the business.
8. Gain confidence
An internship will help you become better aware of your strengths, your personal attributes and your unique skills, so you're more confident in your skills and more self-assured in interviews.
9. Choose the right career path
Studying something is very different to working in a business environment, and internships give you the opportunity to test your talents and interests to see if a certain career path is right for you.
10. Land a job in future
Many companies use internships as part of their recruitment efforts because it gives them a chance to test graduates before employing them. Make a good impression and you'll be in a strong position for future employment.