INTERNSHIPS are usually divided into undergraduate or graduate internships.
Undergraduate internships are for students enrolled in university to get credits towards completion of their studies, whereas graduate internships are for students who have graduated.
Internships are ideal for graduates or those with tertiary qualifications but lack experience.
Both undergraduate and graduate internships can be paid or unpaid.
Internships are designed to enhance practical skills as opposed to theoretical knowledge. Interns are placed full time for a period of six to 12 months at private companies or in the public sector.
Sector Education and Training Authorities use internships to fast-track skills, offer much-needed work experience to unemployed graduates and to empower graduates with practical knowledge aligned to their qualification.
An internship focuses primarily on practical training. The employer determines the duration and content of the internship.
Purpose of internships:
• To fast-track skills;
• To offer unemployed graduates with needed work experience;
• To empower graduates with practical knowledge needed to complete qualification.
Benefits of internships
In the case of undergraduates, an internship enables them to apply the knowledge they have acquired to the practical training they receive in a workplace.
This experience is mandatory at some institutions and for some qualifications.
Undergraduates and graduates have the opportunity to:
• Gain valuable work experience;
• Develop new skills and refine others;
• Apply knowledge gained from studying to on-the-job situations;
• Reality-test their career choices;
• Meet and work with professionals, establishing contacts for letters of reference and networking;
• Experience new work environments;
• Earn money while they gain practical skills.
Required attributes to stand out in interviews:
• Self-motivation and ability to meet deadlines;
• Ability to work well under pressure;
• Ability to work independently;
• Ability to work well as part of a team;
• Great planning and organising skills;
• Analytically oriented;
• Great negotiating skills;
• Accuracy and detail-oriented
Where does one find internship opportunities?
You can search the internet for companies who host interns. Most are funded by the Setas. A company applies for discretionary funding through a Seta. Once they are allocated a grant, they usually advertise in local newspapers and on the internet.
• Sites like Skills Portal on www.skillsportal.co.za,
www.careersportal.co.za through to Seta websites;
• Businesses usually advertise on their webpages and/or on Facebook;
• Word of mouth;
• Community newspapers
• Community service centres or volunteer groups;
• Take advantage of networking opportunities;
• Student organisations;
• Trade magazines.
You should always get as much information as possible and verify it before agreeing to meet for an interview.
Preparing for an internship interview
• Have a great CV and cover letter;
• Dress appropriately;
• Research the company you are interviewing for;
• Maintain a positive attitude;
• Make a good first impression;
• Be open-minded, flexible and professional;
• Ask questions.
Some questions you can ask:
• How will you evaluate my performance?
• What will a typical work day be like?
• How often do you hire interns for full-time positions?
Internships can start at any time of the year, so keep looking out for opportunities.
Seek help from a career counsellor.