By ROHINI RAJARATNAM
Employers seem to rely heavily on resumes that illustrate some form of relevant work experience in the field specified.
It’s no surprise, considering how evaluating one’s merit solely on paper qualification today is no longer sufficient given the high number of degree holders. This, coupled with the increase in youth unemployment rates around the world, is causing a bigger battle for talent.
My first ever part-time job was as a pet store assistant. After that it was a short stint at a law firm, before I finally decided to pursue a degree in law.
During my semester breaks, I did many internships and part-time jobs, some related to law while others were not; jobs such as a barista, content writer and marketing executive and even a day’s work as a waitress.
It was my belief that semester breaks gave me the opportunity to try my hand at other interests apart from law.
The importance of an internship for jump-starting a career
One of the main reasons someone starts an internship is to gain real world experience and to see the practical side of their preferred occupation.
However, let’s be honest – just because you have a degree in a specific area, doesn’t mean you are passionate about it.
For example, I always wanted to be a lawyer but little did I know that being a lawyer was nowhere close to being Harvey Spectre from the television series Suits.
It takes a lot of reading, paperwork, and researching to be a good lawyer. This was exactly what I did and learnt during my internship. It was a great wake-up call into the realities of the profession.
Internships were also great because it allowed me to dabble in other passions without having to be weighed down to the job for a long period.
Someone once mentioned that the great thing about internships is that it allows you to try different industries and explore what you are passionate about to help you decide if that particular career is something you’d enjoy doing for a lifetime.
Getting a degree is quite common these days. It would seem most young adults today would have either a degree or a diploma in a specified skill.
Hence, the need for would-be employers to gauge one’s merit based on talents, experience, and skills that the individual has. Acquired skills are now what sets you apart from other applicants.
When a would-be employer sees that you’ve completed an internship for a three-month duration, or even abroad, it will go a long way to convincing them that you can be an asset to their company.
It provides the employer with a general overview of what to expect, the level of knowledge you bring and also how quickly you can get acquainted with the job scope.
List the tasks you’ve done and projects you’ve participated in to demonstrate your value when crafting your curriculum vitae (CV).
Extra Pocket Money
The great thing about a part-time job or even an internship is the extra allowance! Having this additional cash is a good opportunity to try budgeting your expenditure.
It also enables you – should you choose – to chip in with household utility bills. You will learn about the value of time and money. It instills the belief that hard work will bring monetary rewards.
Key takeaways from my internships
The point of an internship is to gain knowledge and brush up on your skills. This usually includes knowing how to fulfill tasks relevant to your desired career.
However, there are a whole bunch of other skills I believe you’d only learn on the job and through experience. Take, for example, learning how to prioritise tasks, or even taking some time to plan them.
Interning also allowed me to identify my strengths and weaknesses, which really helped me brush up my skills. For example, I realised that my most productive hours were in the morning before lunch, which is helpful now when planning out my tasks.
Also, I learnt the ability to manage people. Sometimes, you’re going to be stuck with a team you might not entirely agree with or find it difficult to get your opinions heard. This is a chance to practise how to handle such situations.
Networking is an exchange of information between people, with the ultimate goal of establishing acquaintances and relationships to advance your professional career.
Some of us, however, seem to think of it as something difficult and complicated. As Harvard Business School professor, Timothy Butler once said, “The biggest mistake that people make in networking is that they don’t do it.”
Whilst interning, I got to work with different people from various careers and this has really helped me in not only understanding what others do in their profession, but also opened doors for future endeavours.
Some of the people I have met while interning are still my friends until today!
While interning, I learnt how to have fun. Along the way, I got to tick a bunch of things off my bucket list too!
For instance, I always wanted to do a food review, and whilst I was interning with a lifestyle magazine, I was given the opportunity to do so and it was very different from what I expected.
Beyond this small bubble we call university, there are greater challenges out there. By signing up for internships, I learnt a small piece of what working life will eventually offer.
It also made me appreciate my carefree university life much more.