Internships: Why they matter
by StudyMalaysia.com on July 28, 2014 | Top Stories
Ah, the holidays! Many of us would have had dreams of beaches and relaxing afternoons throughout the school year and now, our opportunity to enjoy ourselves has arrived. Yet, we all know of that one person (or maybe even many persons!) who has decided to take on an internship instead of relaxing.
"What? Work instead of enjoying the break? They're being ridiculous!"
That thought has no doubt crossed our minds but here's something you might not realise: they are getting an invaluable leg-up into the working world. Internships are the great new commodity that many employers consider the greatest addition to your CV.
Experience, first of all. Internships are short-term stints in a company of the industry of your choice. They give you first-hand experience of the field in which you want to start a career. As an intern, you will be given the chance to observe and assist the current employees in their work, and immerse yourself in the company's work ethic.
Such work experience will also be invaluable when you leave the academic world and begin your career. You would already have a certain degree of understanding of what it is really like to work in the real world. What's more, many employers state that the amount of work experience a prospective employee has usually increases a job-seeker's employability accordingly. Work experience indicates that a person has initiative (you have to, in order to sacrifice your holidays!), ambition and determination, which are valuable characteristics in any employee.
Furthermore, internships allow you to exercise skills you have been picking up in the classroom, and maybe even build on the skills you already have. Perhaps you will be able to put your writing abilities to the test if you intern at a newspaper (e.g. The Star, The Edge) or your analytical skills at a consulting firm (e.g. McKinsey&Co, Bain&Co).
Finally, internships give you a foot in the door with that industry or firm. It can be hard as a new graduate to enter the job market – a fact that makes internships invaluable. Many interns go on to work at the companies they were attached with, so this could lead to a future career in your industry.
There, we've outlined a few reasons you should intern whenever possible, and not just because your course requires it. That's the easy part. Don't worry, we're not abandoning you just yet. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you find an internship that suits you best.
1. Research the industry and companies
There is no point in interning in an industry (or company!) that you have no interest in. Make sure you know enough about the industry before you apply. Learn about what exactly is the purpose of each field and what you would be interested in doing—the best way to gain the most out of your internship is to know exactly what you want.
You could also check job advertisements to see what positions companies are looking for. Who knows? They may be willing to take on interns while waiting to fill a position.
2. Ask for help
Email the HR departments of the companies you have decided on, very often they will be willing to answer questions. Some companies may even conduct internship schemes that you can apply to be a part of. For example, law firms (e.g. Shook Lin and Bok, Skrine, Zaid Ibrahim, Wong and Partners, etc.) have attachment programmes for second and third years, as well as graduates. Sometimes, your school may have connections within certain industries and will be able to help you secure an internship.
3. Classifieds and the Internet
Many companies now put up job advertisements online or promote them through databases such as the one provided by Jobstreet. It might be worth your time to look through these advertisements and databases for something that you will be interested in.
4. Prepare and polish your CV
Your CV or resume is an important document that everyone should have. It is an outline of all your experience and skills that all companies require you to submit in order for them to get a feel for your suitability. Make sure your internship resume is polished and well written as this is the first impression you will present to your prospective employers. Be concise and clear with all the information. Not sure how to begin your resume. Get tips from Jobstreet or Resume Help for some examples and tips on writing a CV or resume.
Some things to consider
The internship culture is still not very prevalent in Malaysia and as such, many companies are still unfamiliar with the concept. They may not call an internship an "internship" but ask if they will allow you to work with them for a short period. You may or may not be paid for the work you do as many companies may consider the experience you gain as payment enough. Take this into consideration when making your choices.
In a nutshell, you might want to think twice about bumming away your entire vacation. Consider an internship whenever you can and you could be building your career as you complete your studies.
Best of luck and keep an open mind!
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