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Internships: The Whats and Whys for Grad Students

By Joel Cheesman

Internship, "What is it?" "What does it accomplish?" "What benefits will it bring me in future?" These are a few questions that a graduate student, or a recent university graduate, might be contemplating when considering internships.

An internship is defined as: Work in a company or agency related to a student's degree program and career plans, usually for academic credit and often also for payment. This sounds like a fantastic idea when reading its definition, especially to an individual contemplating an internship, this promise of experience and compensation seems fantastic.

The primary goal of an internship is to give the individual real world application to circumstances they have only experienced in theory. For example, if someone has a degree in Information Technology, but has never actually worked in the Information Technologies field, upon the conception of their career the adjustment to the industries demands and its particular idiosyncrasies, could be particularly overwhelming to someone with little or no experience.

However, an internship will provide an individual the ability to experience the in's and out's of their particular industry. Along with experience, is the ability to observe the requirements placed upon other individuals that are already on a similar career path. With the assistance of an internship an individual can effectively judge which part of the industry they will be best suited for.

Internships can be a vital stepping stone for an individual's career when on the job search. However, doing some research before applying to any prospective recruiting companies would be an intelligent process to follow. There are a myriad of different resources that can be implemented in order to find the facts out about a particular company. A major resource would be the university that an individual is affiliated with.

Most universities have relationships set up with particular companies, with the soul purpose of giving their students the ability to have real world experience before leaving the world of academia. This usually manifest itself as a "gap year" or a "year out", whereby the individuals' goal is to gain real world experience with the full support of the university.

Another method of attaining information about a perspective internship is via the internet; Usually this occurs through job postings, message boards and human resources websites. An individual can see on line if the companies they are interested in offer internships. More often than not, the qualifications for the internship, the length of the internship, and if it is accompanied by a salary, are posted along with the contact details.

When considering an internship, length of time is a mitigating factor, it could be "gap year" or three months in the summer. Weather the internship is voluntary or if you are issued a salary, the most important factor is if an individual is able to afford a three to six month voluntary internship, in order to add real world experience to their Resume' or CV.

If the answer is no, an individual's better option is a salaried "gap year" in order to gain real world experience, and earn a living simultaneously. The best solution for weather or not being an intern is the right career move for someone is less about wanting and more about if it is feasible to do so.

Cheezhead author Joel Cheesman , president of HRSEO and Oaseo, is one of the most widely-read bloggers on emerging recruitment issues in the world. He was the recipient of's Best Technology Recruitment Blog for 2005 and received Best Recruiting Blog in 2007 . He has been featured in Fast Company magazine and its blog under FC Reads, as well as NewsNow, Workforce Management , AIRS , Crain's Business, Resumes for Dummies and The Wall Street Journal.

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Megan Culver
Megan has an internship many people would be stoked to have: working for the New England Patriots. So how did she get such an awesome gig? She just sent her resume and cover letter to the organization's internships email and hoped the competitive spot would be hers. "I received an email saying that they wanted to bring me in for an interview. I had to have 2 interviews before I finally knew that I got the internship," she says.

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