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For the last roughly three years I am dealing with interns in the pharmaceutical company I am currently working for. Periodically our company offers internship to pharmacy graduates and almost 80% are re-hired for the position of ‘Key Accounts Managers’
My involvement with them as trainer revealed some invaluable areas of knowledge which remained either hidden, may be partially, from the companies and the prospective job-seekers, or were not seriously considered in the process of career making by both. Sporadically internships are being offered by different companies, but I feel that it should be a regular and integral part of career building process. This concern of mine kindled me to share the importance and benefits of internship or placement for both, the organizations and the prospective employees, with colleagues at Pharma Veterans.
- What is an Internship
An internship is an opportunity offered by an employer to potential employees, called interns, to work at a firm for a fixed, limited period of time. Interns are usually pharmacy graduates, undergraduates or students. Internships last for different durations — one week to a year.
An intern works in a temporary position for an employer that operates in an industry they are interested to work for.
Internships (also called “placements”, “work placements” or “industrial placements“) may be part-time or full-time. They are usually part-time if offered during a university semester and full-time if offered during the summer or winter holidays.
Experience is becoming a crucial factor for employers when deciding who gets their foot in the door. It is strongly advised that students and graduates take the opportunity to complete a period of work experience to ensure they have a competitive advantage over their peers; and that is where an internship can make the difference. Briefly an internship is:
- A structured work experience related to a student’s major and/or career goal.
- An experience that should enhance a student’s academic, career, and personal development, supervised by a professional in the field.
- An experience that can be one academic term (summer, spring, fall) or multiple academic terms in length.
- Paid or unpaid, part-time or full-time.
- An experience that is mutually agreed upon by the graduate/student, supervisor and/or faculty member.
- Depending on the field the experience may also be called a practicum or
- Why Companies offer Internships.
Employers get a low-cost trial period of potential employees. Most employees need a year on the job before they are worth their position and salary. It is more likely true in large corporations, where process and culture have an enormous impact on work production.
Most internship are offered at large companies, where it gives the employer the opportunity to get employee familiar with the culture, tools, and process at a lower cost than would be paid for a new college graduate hired for full-time, simply because intern remuneration is a bit less.
Another advantage to the employer is the word-of-mouth effect; if the intern experience is good, not only will the intern like to return for full time, but the information is disseminated to friends at college/ university, which opens the door to more interns and more new hires. Having more new graduates interested to work with the company makes the jobs more competitive, allowing for greater selectivity of talent.
Companies offer graduates/students internships for a variety of both short and long-term reasons:
In the short-term, internships provide employers with cheap (and sometimes even free) labor, for what is usually low-level office-based tasks, such as photocopying, filing or report drafting.
Long-term, employers can use internships as an effective way of advertising their graduate jobs and/or schemes to students. Graduate job surveys suggest that almost half of all graduate employers hire at least 20% of their ex-interns for graduate jobs and training schemes. It is highly likely that graduates will return to the organization that hired them as an intern for full-time employment after leaving university.
The prospect of hiring ex-interns after graduating is also very appealing to employers because these graduates already understand the company and the job they will be assigned. Ex-interns require little or no training.
- The Internship Experience.
Internships offer students a period of practical experience in the industry relating to their field of study. This experience is valuable to students as a means of allowing them to experience how their studies are applied in the “real world”, and as work experience that can be attractive to potential employers on a candidate’s C.V. Internship gives opportunity to:
- Learn about a career field from the inside and decide if this is the right field for the prospective candidate.
- Opportunity to work alongside the professionals in the chosen career area.
- Observe the workplace and see if it matches the expectations.
- Why do an Internship.
An internship provides a great opportunity for prospective employees to gain experience in a particular field or industry, determine if they have an interest in a particular career, create a network of contacts, or gain university module credits. Interns may also have the possibility of putting themselves forward for forthcoming opportunities for paid work, during their internship.
Internships are supposed to be educational and teach interns skills that they otherwise could not have learnt. It greatly helps in honing the skills of interns and scales their career.
One of the recurring themes in any entry level job search is lack of experience. “Where do I get experience if no one is willing to hire me?” The answer is simple: Get an internship!
Students planning to enter the permanent workforce should complement their academic preparation with a range of other experiences, such as study abroad, community service, undergraduate research experiences, membership in pre-professional organizations, and internships.
An internship offers the opportunity to work with someone who can become a mentor for interns – not only in the internship but throughout the career.
- Leadership and Skill Development.
An internship offers the interns the chance to learn by working in a setting where they are supervised by a work-place professional and have the opportunity to achieve the learning goals, without the responsibilities of being a permanent employee.
Unlike conventional employment, internships have an emphasis on training, rather than employment itself. An intern is expected to:
- Apply some of the ideas learned in college and provide a bridge between educational qualification and the professional world. Learn new skills and add to the knowledge-base while gaining confidence in his/her dexterity.
- Opportunity to practice communication and teamwork skills.
- Gain industry knowledge first hand from an organization and the professionals.
- Provide evidence that interns have initiative, are reliable, and have a sense of responsibility.
- Achieve a sense of accomplishment by contributing to an organization.
· Networking and Establishing Mentors and References
- Meets new people and practice networking skills while establishing a network of professional contacts, mentors, and references.
- Is open to door to advice on the next steps to be taken on the career path.
· Resume Enrichment.
- Gains valuable experience and accomplishments to add cogency to the resume.
- Has a competitive advantage for the jobs over fresh graduate applicants.
- Is potential candidate for a full-time job offer at the end of the internship based on how well the intern has performed
Results from a recent survey conducted by Graduate Advantage prove that internships do create jobs for graduates. It showed that 81% of interns are now employed and 74% of those are either in permanent employment or are on a long term contract. Of these, 68% believe their internship helped them to gain their current position and an impressive 33% are still working with their internship organization.
Michael Ellender of Birmingham Forward said of his internship: “I am a very proactive person and was keen to only take a role where I could use my graduate skills. In my experience, if you are willing to show initiative, enthusiasm and work hard, you will be given further opportunities to develop. I was pleased to stay on after the placement and have now been promoted to a higher level role that I enjoy.”
Following a successful internship it is not unusual for employers to coax interns for a full-time job as many employers use internships as a trial period and already have plans to recruit on a permanent basis. A stint as an intern can prove to be a watershed in one’s career. Therefore, it is vital that interns make a good impression; turn up on time, be enthusiastic and show their worth, flexibility, adaptability and commitment.
I am confident that very soon internship will become a byword generally in different disciplines at the educational institutions (in business schools internships are a regular feature) and corporate environment for career building process. But the system has still to go a long way, to adopt the practice widely and in a more organized fashion.