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In general, entry-level internships are temporary jobs designed to help individuals gain skills and experience in their chosen career fields. Many internship opportunities are arranged via higher education institutes, where a student will work for a particular organization in exchange for college credit. This is one example of an unpaid internship, but companies may also treat internship positions like a regular job and offer financial compensation. Some internships also run for a particular period of time, such as summer internships. Other opportunities that may be considered internships in some cases are volunteer work and apprenticeships.
Perhaps the most common entry-level internship opportunities are student internships. These positions allow individuals enrolled in school — typically a school of higher education — to work on career development by gaining workplace experience and meeting potential mentors. In a large percentage of cases, the student provides labor to businesses or non-profit groups in exchange for classroom credits. School departments will often seek local industries that specialize in particular areas of study. The opportunities are often designed for a specific time period, with summer internships being especially prevalent.
Organizations may offer paid internships or unpaid internships. As noted, most student internships do not offer financial gain. Businesses such as hospitals may, however, offer paid entry-level internships if they are seeking a potential full-time employee. In these cases, the intern may complete a trial internship to determine if he or she is a good fit with the company. Such internships can further gauge an individual’s interest and level of commitment to the job.
While they may not officially be called internships, other activities provide many of the same benefits as entry-level internships. For example, job shadowing involves following an individual employed in a profession of interest during that individual’s daily activities. In addition, technical trades afford individuals the opportunity to train with a professional and gain hands-on experience via apprenticeships. Volunteer work can be both rewarding and educational as well, offering similar activities as unpaid internships.
Details of entry-level internships may vary by region. Some places, for example, ban internships or any potentially distracting outside work during educational pursuits. Others make internships mandatory for school graduation. Payment is another area of divergence depending on the region, as many governments require financial compensation for any type of employment, including internships. The internship process can also be known by various regional names, including stage, sandwich placement, and co-operative education.
Regardless of details, many types of entry-level internships require the same amount of preparation as an actual job. For one, resumes and cover letters detailing prior education and experience are needed for some positions. Further, most positions will necessitate an interview with the position’s supervisor. Once an intern is on the job, assigned activities can range from coffee errands to drafting important documents.