The typical image of an intern is a coffee-getting, photocopying, running personal errands “nobody” who doesn’t get any experience out of the internship. But being an intern is not all that bad (really!) though you must choose and/ or have access to a good company and mentor.
Reality is, what you’re learning in your classrooms is unlikely to prepare you for the real working world. Knowledge is important no doubt, however, it’s not enough to genuinely understand what it’ll be like in the office (or whatever setting you hope to find yourself in). Here are the reasons why an internship is beneficial:
For the networking
Often students get hired after their internships. Why? If you’ve been able to prove your talent, and you’ve already been trained, it makes sense to hire someone who’s already ready to work. You’ve developed a good relationship with your employer already.
However, this is contingent on whether or not you do perform. Based off OWN’s industry knowledge, the main things that mentors are looking for aren’t your hard skills, but passion, curiosity, being fun, open minded, and organised.
Even if you’re not hired, you’ve made connections with individuals who can lead you to your future employer. Connections are needed everywhere in the world, but even more so in Hong Kong given how many others you’re competing against.
For the learning
Your schooling most likely incurs some costs. However with an internship, you learn for free (or with pay!)
Reiterating again, you’ll be developing skills that everyone says you should have–organisational skills, attention to detail, teamwork and so on–but in a manner that won’t be done in a classroom. It is experiential learning rather than learning from a textbook. It’s like learning to swim from a textbook in comparison to being thrown into a pool.
It might happen where your boss calls you at 11 PM to work on a project, or you might be thrown into a meeting and left to save yourself. Or you might have someone who teaches you to use Squarespace for work, but guided you utilise for your own portfolio.
For your CV
Does submitting an empty CV to a prospective school or employer look good? Definitely not. Fill up that blank sheet (with valuable, concrete skills and experiences with examples to better legitimise your claims.)
All things said, it may still be a reality that you’ll be fetching coffee, photocopying, and running personal errands, but find a good mentor and this is unlikely (or at least, not the majority of your work.)
Yes you are most likely unpaid for the work you are putting in as an intern, but see it as an investment. What you put in now will be applied in your future.