Internships are becoming an increasingly important way to increase the diversity of an employer’s recruiting strategy. Gaining an internship within a specific field is also an excellent way for a candidate to earn valuable hands-on experience in preparation for future jobs.
Internships are usually aimed at students or recent graduates who are transitioning from education to full time work, but need a little experience first. However, anyone can apply – as long as they have the drive and passion to succeed in the role!
But just how long is the average internship? And what sort of responsibilities will you have to undertake while in the position?
Whether you’re looking to apply for an internship yourself, or just want to know more about the process, this article will be helpful in providing you with all the information you require.
Table of Contents
What Is An Internship?
An internship is typically defined as a fixed period of work experience offered by an employer or an organization to give graduates and students exposure to their chosen work environment. Internships typically last anywhere from a week to a year and sometimes even result in permanent jobs for the intern.
However, internships aren’t just for these groups. People of any age can apply for an intern position, so long as they are truly interested in the position and have the passion and drive to back it up!
What Happens At An Internship?
The experience and demands of an internship are different for every company. It depends on the industry, the particular department you’re working in, and who the employer is. You may experience any of the following:
Meeting Employees (And Making Connections)
It’s very likely that you’ll be working the same hours as other employees, so you’ll undoubtedly be introduced to at least a couple of individuals during your internship.
But how many people you’ll meet depends on how big the organization is to start. It’s also important to note that some interns opt to work more hours than regular employees to demonstrate a willingness to prove their worth.
Working In An Office
You may be required to be physically present in the company workplace for part (or even the whole duration) of your internship. This is usually a single office space, but you may be asked to work in additional locations if the employer requires it.
You might even be working off-site in other spaces such as hotels. Overall, it’s valuable experience and sets people up for real-life work within a particular sector.
Training And Mentoring
The value of the internship will be measured in part by the quality of mentoring and training that you receive from the company. You will receive this from supervisors and anyone else assigned to oversee your progress.
However, some interns are less fortunate and don’t receive one-to-one training, meaning they cannot carry out their tasks. Although this is quite a rare occurrence, it does happen!
Variation In Tasks
You will be assigned many tasks – both independent and as part of a group – throughout your internship, all of which will vary in scope.
You’ll likely be given simpler things to do at the beginning of your time at the company, and slowly progress into more difficult, complex tasks as you learn the necessary skills to move through your internship.
But you may also be thrown into the deep end from the very start. Again, this depends entirely on the employer!
Internship Vs Employment
Internships differ from paid employment roles in several ways. We have outlined some of these below.
- Interns are ranked as juniors; all assigned tasks will reflect this
- There’s no expectation for long term work
- An internship is all about gaining experience, first-hand insight, and exposure to a certain field or role
- Employers will expect initiative and a good work ethic, however your performance will not be measured against that of your established colleagues
- You won’t have access to formal benefits such as holiday pay or a car allowance
Common Internship Lengths
An internship should be long enough for an intern to understand the responsibilities associated with the position. Many companies stand firm on a 3-4 month average time frame, with a weekly total of around 20-35 hours.
This coincides with the typical summer period of a student. But if an internship is only for 5-10 hours per week, it might be wise to extend the period to 6-8 months.
This is a short-term introductory shadowing experience where an intern can follow a professional around to observe their day-to-day workplace activities. They can last anywhere from two days to two weeks and are aimed toward entry-level roles.
Externships are also a great way to gain insider perspective into that particular industry, and also provides ways of connecting with other professionals. It is also helpful in determining whether the intern truly wants to take on a similar position in the future.
Internships can sometimes last up to a whole year! This is also equivalent to two full semesters; one unpaid, and the second semester paid. To progress onto and secure a spot in the second semester, the student must have a great performance history.
Summer internships are far longer than those offered in other semesters, usually beginning in May or June and ending in late August or early September.
As a result, these types of internships are largely tailored towards students who have the summer off, and therefore have the time to devote themselves to internship work. Many companies provide summer internships spanning anywhere from 2-3 months.
In contrast, internships that are set up throughout the rest of the year may be shorter, and may be offered as flexible or part-time opportunities. This ensures that students can successfully balance coursework with their internship responsibilities.
College Career Length
If your company has connections with a local college, or can even provide college level credit, then the college career length internship is made a possibility.
These are almost always paid positions, and are often limited to two semesters worth of credit for individual students. Therefore, it is important to understand the rules and guidelines associated with this particular type of internship before you begin.
Internships are individual experiences. The average internship lasts around 3-4 months, but they can last as little as a week, and as long as a year. It is all dependent on the organization that you are interning with, and their approach to interns.