If you don’t have much work experience – and let’s face it, as a graduate, it’s unlikely that you do – finding a job can be harder than you bargained for. Often, taking an internship can be the ideal solution to getting the experience you need to be eligible for the job you want.
Internships can be paid or unpaid, but either way they usually they benefit both the graduate and the employer. As a graduate, you’re exposed to on-the-job learning and real experience of the work environment – a way to link the theoretical knowledge you learnt at university with practical experience. Employers, on the other hand, are able to mentor newly graduated individuals and fulfil organisational objectives.
How do I get an internship?
Many large companies in South Africa offer internships for graduates across a number of industries and sectors. The best place to find out about specific programmes is through companies’ websites or on social media platforms, as this is generally where they advertise internship opportunities. It’s worthwhile to visit these platforms regularly to keep abreast of openings and job vacancies as they come up, so that you don’t miss out on opportunities. Most companies will provide you with an email address where you can send your query or online application, as well as the criteria that will make you eligible for the programme.
Dos and don’ts
Think of starting an internship in the same way you would a new job – all the same rules apply.
For starters, when you apply, keep an open mind. Just because you have a degree in a certain industry, doesn’t mean you should ignore other opportunities in other sectors. Many industries offer you the chance to use the skills you learnt at university. The great thing about an internship is that it helps clarify a career path for you, and looking at opportunities you hadn’t previously considered might be key as you navigate this journey.
You’ll be required to submit your CV and a covering letter, just as you would for a job interview. Keep the same rules in mind: be honest, align your skills with the internship requirements and get someone else to check everything for spelling and grammar mistakes so that you make the best first impression you can.
Competition for places on an internship programme is stiff – so if you are called in for an interview, do the right amount of preparation and make the best impression you can so that you’re the one who stands out as a viable candidate.
Remember that companies make large investments in their internship programmes, as they’re ultimately looking to turn interns into permanent employees. Be motivated and ambitious so that you make the most of the opportunity: