Post-graduate internships exist in a variety of formats. Some offer paid work, while others are unpaid internships, though both types are typically selected for the purpose of career development. In some cases, individuals who wish to earn a professional license may be required to complete an internship after they graduate from an academic program. Internships are available through a variety of public and private organizations and businesses and can vary widely in structure.
In some professions, such as counseling and other types of mental health work, actual work experience is crucial in developing professional competency. For this reason, many jurisdictions mandate that aspiring professionals undertake post-graduate internships even after they complete a graduate degree in order to qualify for licensure. Schools may work with their students to secure these internships, but students may also be expected to secure a supervised internship on their own by contacting providers within their area. In some cases, providers of various professional services may rely heavily on individuals who are performing post-graduate internships and may actively recruit interns. Once the intern has completed the requisite number of practice hours, he can then submit his application for licensure.
Even in fields that do not require professional licensure, post-graduate internships may be an important part of a person's career development. In some fields, it may be difficult for students to obtain training in a particular area of competency, particularly if that area of competency is complex. For that reason, some public institutions and private employers may develop post-graduate internships that permit new graduates to receive on-the-job training. For example, aspiring librarians who have just graduated from a library science degree program may need to build their understanding of certain types of library work as well as their knowledge of a particular subject matter and its reference sources. Thus, a newly graduated librarian who is interested in working in academic libraries may take an internship working in a college or university library to learn how to perform as an academic librarian.
Particularly in a tough job market, it can be difficult for new graduates to obtain decent entry-level positions. Post-graduate internships can provide new graduates with legitimate work experience and the ability to expand their professional networks. Although the worker may not always be paid, he will develop a better understanding of the industry in which he works, establish good work habits, and potentially gain references that can help him eventually obtain a paying position.