What is an internship?

24 Feb 2023, 15:54

Image of interns at desk

In our 2020 gradireland Graduate Salary & Recruitment Trends Survey, 82% of employers we surveyed said that they offered internships, which provides an insight into how firmly the internship experience is now established in the graduate recruitment area.

Internship positions are widely offered, across all sectors, and although there is no official time period that it lasts, our research shows that on average it is 6 months or longer in duration. Of course, due to the nature of the position, not all internships are on a full time-basis, with many students and graduates working flexible hours or conducting their internship on a part-time basis.

Why are internships so popular?

Internships offer a great opportunity to get some experience of the working world, preferably in an area in which you want to work, or something closely related. They provide the opportunity to learn how their studies can apply in a professional setting and it’s an important part of building a core of experience that can help you in identifying or choosing your career path. It also adds considerably to your CV and will help you impress at interview in terms of showing dedication to your chosen career area.

Who can be an intern?

Again, there are no hard and fast rules about who can or can't be an intern. Generally speaking, internships are undertaken by penultimate or final year students, or college graduates, outside of term time, so during holidays or after graduation. Work placements can often form part of your course or studies and are often organised through your institution.

What will I do as an intern?

Internships, or any type of work experience, have moved on a lot (in the overwhelming majority of cases) from the cliche of photocopying and making tea! Obviously, what you do will be dependent on the company you're working with, but before you accept the internship it is likely that you will be given a broad understanding of your roles. A significant percentage of the companies we surveyed were recruiting and average of 28% of their graduate employees from those who had previously completed an internship with the company. It's a vital part of the employer/employee engagement story, where you can find out if a particular employer is right for you, and vice versa.

Will I be paid?

Well, you definitely should be! In fact, the cliche of the unpaid internship is another fast vanishing (and not missed) trend. If you're not being paid, you really need to be sure of the benefits that you're getting from the experience and if you feel that there is future benefit to it. Ideally unpaid internships should only be done for a few days per week or for a short period of time.

For the longer, more structured internships that the majority of those companies that offer internships use, 98% pay their interns. The rates of pay are good too. None of the employers surveyed pay their interns less than €1,000 with 34%, paying their interns a considerable €1,600 to €1800 per month and 32% pay more than this.

How do I apply for internships?

Many companies operating established internship programmes have opening and closing dates like a regular job. For others, internships can be arranged on a more informal basis. It's good to apply speculatively to a company that you want to work with, a well put together proposal or application will at least put you on their radar for any further openings. Keep an eye on for the latest advertised internships.

gradireland editorial advice

This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the gradireland content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

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