I always say that when you’re young you want to be figuring out what you like doing/what fulfils you not trying to make as much money as possible.
This is simply because we have a short amount of time on Earth, so might as well spend your time doing something you like, right? 💁♀️ Once that’s done, you can focus on making the big bucks.
Something I like? What does that mean? How do I figure it out? Yes, it’s not easy – which is why it’s important to keep searching. And one great tool to do this: (paid) student internships.
Why are internships so amazing?
- You can test without committing: The main reason internships are so amazing is because you get to test an area or field before diving in. Not sure if you want to try journalism? Do a 6 month internship with a newspaper and try it out. Not sure if you want to try engineering? Do an internship and try it out. Not sure if digital marketing is for you? You get the jazz.
- You can put something on your CV: The old ‘you need experience to get a job and a job to get experience’. A student internship fights that – you get experience and sometimes don’t need experience to get it in the first place. Win win.
- You get to actually work with people: The huge difference for me was going from working for people as a waitress/museum assistant/promoter to working with people. This may not be the case with every internship, but if you’re lucky you get to feel what it’s like to actually work with people towards one same objective.
- You get paid (or not): Paid internships are the bomb. Unpaid internships are slavery. If you’re getting paid, you got a very good deal and that’s great. If you’re not getting paid, I touch on this in a later section… sometimes it’s worth keeping the gig.
- You can (pretty easily) do them in other countries: A great way to work and travel – do an internship abroad. I especially like this since you get to work with a culture and not just be a tourist.
- You get to develop skills in different fields: As you explore the world of internships and try new things, the more skills you develop. Although you didn’t like digital marketing, now you know the basics. You realised journalism isn’t your thing, but now you know how to write. So now you’re doing engineering. Yay 🎉.
- A potential job: If you hit gold and end up interning for a company you really like and they like you, then you’ve just got yourself a job. Congrats.
This whole testing with internships is also great because a lot of my corporate job friends tell me that many times you do not get what you were promised in the job interview/description. Although the job description says you’ll get to work on Super Amazing and Interesting Project, many times you are disappointed and don’t get to work on said Super Amazing and Interesting Project. Internships are a great way to see if the promise goes through, and if it doesn’t… bye bye. 👋
If you’re in the UK: check out apprenticeships
Now, if you’re in the UK and are in the process of deciding whether to go to university and where, or even in the middle of university and are looking for something else, I would highly recommend checking out apprenticeships.
Imagine getting paid, earning work experience and completing a degree at the same time – then having a job waiting for you once you’re done. That’s an apprenticeship. And I highly recommend checking them out. They’re the new ‘modern education’ and the key to getting a cool job. Defo worth a shot.
Check out this FM post with some apprenticeship examples: 4 Exciting Apprenticeship Programs You Can Apply For This Year.
And if you’re intrigued and want to search for even more apprenticeships, here are some websites to check out:
If you’re not getting paid
So I’ve argued why student internships are amazing and why getting one has no downsides – experience, skills and working on Super Amazing and Interesting Projects. And many times you don’t even need to be a student – just a young person looking for a job. Although it does vary from company to company.
However, there is one case in which an internship may not be a viable path, and that’s when you’re getting paid zilch. Apart from the fact that that’s practically slavery, it also makes life very difficult for young people who are trying to live. It is unfair and it does make life hard, but student internships are still a great tool to figure out the working world. So I recommend figuring out ways to make the internship work out before completely giving up. Here are some suggestions:
1. Look specifically for paid internships. Use online searches like Indeed and Step.org and make sure your internship is paid. Check the job description, don’t be afraid to ask during the interview. You said I’m getting paid, and now I need to know how much.
2. Consider doing a paid internship abroad. Maybe your university can organise one, maybe you’re better off doing it during the summer – in countries like the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway you’re more likely to get paid. Here are some sites you can check out: Go Overseas and Europe Internships.
3. Look for a part time internship. If the company is flexible, they may offer an internship where you work only 2 or 3 days, or a few hours per day. Then you would have extra time to work online or find a part time job. Yes, sounds very hectic. If you organise something that works for you though… kudos.
4. Study online, make work your main thing. Not for everyone, but a more flexible approach. By studying online with The Open University you get to make time for work and for making money. Plus you can easily work abroad ✈😎
5. Go to networking events. The more networking events you go to, the more opportunities to find a job/internship you open yourself to. Especially with startups – events like the Startup Grind where you can pitch yourself to startups are amazing, since you can find some very interesting projects and people. Many times startups are more willing to be flexible and let you study and work at the same time. However, many are also not willing to pay. 😕
These are some of the options that could work for you. The benefits of student internships can seriously be huge – and if you feel it’s not worth it, quitting is not as hard as with a job.
Personally I am doing a paid student internship right now for a startup, and it’s pretty amazing. I was lucky enough to meet them at a startup networking event and now I get to work with some very interesting people and practice my digital marketing skills. I’m also working abroad in Spain, which means getting to know the culture well and diving deep into the Spanish market. Since I study online, I have the flexibility to both work and study, and do some extra stuff on the side (like this blog 😛). So if you get it right, internships can be pretty lit 🔥. And you get it right by trying, and trying and trying again.
About a year ago I interviewed Jalpan on how he got 2 amazing student internships and the best way for you to get the best possible deal. Check it out 😛: How to Apply for Internships and Stand Out