To Intern or not to Intern, that is the question!

Written by SMS blogger, Laura Baines.

You’ve finished university forever! That statement in itself is scary enough, without the prospect of unemployment and living at home with your parents for the foreseeable future. It doesn’t take long to realise that despite your degree discipline and the hard work you’ve put in, it doesn’t always help when it comes to landing your first job after university. Whether you’ve been applying desperately for months or you’re just starting out, job hunting can be daunting for students, especially if you’ve become a Netflix addict in your pyjamas like most of us!

Do I get paid?

This is where internships come in. They’re a controversial route to take, especially those that are expenses only. They give students the valuable experience they need to boost their CV, but don’t allow them to support themselves or save for the future. Fully paid internships are perhaps more worth your time, usually at the current minimum wage of £6.50 an hour (or more if you live in London). Even so, often these placements will provide experience but are usually only a short contract, so it won’t be long until you’re back on the job hunt again. No wonder many students give up!

Considering the difficulty of finding a job, sometimes you have to swallow your pride and gain that much needed experience. I chose to accept a paid internship in Digital Marketing, after applying for 10+ jobs a day in a variety of roles including Journalism, Writing and Administration. I would have preferred a full time permanent role, but planning my future was impossible without some sort of income, especially with the vast debt I have to pay back. Cheers government!

Will I just be making tea?

As my internship comes to an end, my experience has been positive and I’ve learnt a wide range of skills that employers recognise, mainly admin and IT skills and content design. I would recommend taking a paid internship to gain the experience necessary to progress in your field. The wage isn’t really a living wage, but it’s something to support me whilst I continue my job search and a way to get out of my rut of waking up at midday and generally being a slob!

Unpaid internships, on the other hand, I think should be banned. These positions are only available for under a month, to avoid breaking employment laws, but even so I think you should be paid for your work, especially if you’re commuting in every day and working 9-5.

Even expenses paid positions can be a strain, as many students work for weeks or months with no indication if they will gain a paid position at the end. Having said that, doing some unpaid work whilst you’re still studying and fitting it around your lectures is a different story, as you’re able to choose your hours and you’ll still be supported by your student loan.

Where do I look?

If you are interested, there are a variety of good websites that advertise both paid and unpaid internships in a wide range of sectors: Indeed, Intern Wise, Go Think Big and Inspiring Interns.

Either way, internships do provide valuable experience you can show prospective employers and they prove you’re dedicated to finding a job. I know how hard it is to give up your student status, I’ve done it. But one day we all have to delete Pizza Hut’s number from our phones, unsubscribe from Netflix and shove our onesies to the back of the wardrobe!

Graduation here we come!

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