An intern is a person who works temporarily in a job in order to get training on the spot rather than going on a course to acquire that training. An internship provides an opportunity for gaining experience in a field, determining whether that sort of job is suitable or desirable. Generally, internships are unpaid and simply ways of getting oneself some experience for the CV and a foot on the jobs ladder. However, some professions do pay their interns, and from time to time an intern will return to the company permanently after the end of the internship.
Typically an internship is part time during the student year and full time outside of it, but this is not always the case. They typically last six to twelve weeks, but can be longer or shorter.
Today it seems as if more people are getting better experiences out of internships then they have in the past. This is partly because students are doing the research to find the best internship experience suitable for them, but also because many more companies are seeing the advantage and taking the opportunity to take them on. Internships are win - win for intern and employer alike, so it's certainly an option to think about, especially over a summer holiday.
Internships not only provide an excellent opportunity to gain some real work experience, especially useful for university students who have none after finishing their school studies, but they also give you a footing in the world of work, and some contacts that will be especially useful if you find an internship in the industry you wish to work in for your career. The only downsides to internships, are that many of the biggest and most prestigious companies offer intern roles that are unpaid, or give you very basic work. You have to decide whether this is an acceptable compromise for you.
Paid vs. Unpaid
The majority of paid internships are found in large businesses. Some business that offer well paid internships are consulting, investment banking, commercial banking, accounting, information technology, venture capital, entertainment, and marketing. Whereas in entertainment and book publishing you may not find a paid internship because there are so many people trying to get into those industries. However you will find that most industries do offer some paid internships to attract talented students. Organizations are also realising that students are motivated by paid internships simply to cover the basic necessities because most have to give up work in order to fulfill an internship.
Unpaid internships offer valuable work experience as well. There are a number of unpaid internships such as at non-profit organizations in your area, campaigning for your local MP, working in a hospital lab or legal assistant. The internship opportunities seem endless but what's most important is that you find an internship in your area of study and get the most of out it. Paid or not paid, you'll make connections, learn new things, and gain a better understanding of the field.
Internships are great learning opportunities and a good way to get your foot in the door with a company you may want to work for upon your graduation, or just after A Levels instead of heading straight to university. Get involved with one or more internships to gain experience and give you insight as to what type of work you might be interested in doing.