Why your Career Begins with an Internship
16 Jun 2022 3 mins read By Andrea Amato

How to make the most out of novel job opportunities. 


Internships are often roles granted to individuals fresh out of their studies and/or those ready to begin practical skills in a selected industry. Unlike educative programs, an internship provides real-world experiences and understandings of various jobs in Malta and beyond. They’re great opportunities to follow in terms of learning and professional development that leads an individual to their future career goals. 


What does an internship look like? 


Internships can be multifaceted as they are designed to provide individuals experience in various disciplines and departments. Some internships are rotational, meaning employees spend a set amount of time training in different departments in an organisation. Generally, interns partake in various opportunities, including direct participation in projects or shadowing practices with a more senior employee.  

By nature, internships are guided opportunities and provide individuals with sound training initiatives. It’s positive to use internships as a means to reflect and ask questions when uncertain about particular processes. Perhaps one of the greatest advantages of internships is increasing social capital, that is, the opportunity to construct a social network made up of professionals in your interested industry. 

Additionally, internships differ structurally depending on the company. Some are paid whilst others are not, and certain internships can lead to full-time opportunities within the company or expire after a particular timeframe (which can be between a few weeks to a couple of months). Including such practical experiences in CVs are valuable to prospective employers, as it presents your skill sets transferable to diverse organisations, making internships an important consideration for those with little to no experience in a field of interest. 


Types of internships 


As mentioned beforehand, internship opportunities differ between organisations. This is because certain companies have different resources available, and structure their roles to suit their business needs. Common internship opportunities include: 

  • Paid: typically, paid internships are offered from larger companies able to afford internship programs and see value in their intern’s work. As unpaid internships are growing more distasteful, more organisations are willing to offer paid internships than in the past. 
  • Unpaid: not all organisations are able to provide paid internships, but still create worthwhile internship programs with valuable learning experiences. For some, the practical experience is worth pursuing, even without monetary compensation. 
  • Volunteer: these opportunities typically exist within non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and work as volunteer programs. Because NGOs often do not possess large stakeholders and investors, they usually rely on charitable donations to stay afloat. For this reason, these programs typically go unpaid. Nevertheless, working for an NGO with strong values can be very rewarding and make for a good addition to a CV. 
  • Graduate: more recently, universities are introducing internship programs as part of course requirements for students. Even if these are not required, universities hold relationships with organisations to offer such programs. These opportunities are often unpaid, but universities sometimes compensate accommodation and other living costs as students undertake such internships.  


The rise of remote internships 


The Covid-19 pandemic particularly affected internship opportunities on a global scale. Widespread redundancies led to organisations removing their internship programs altogether, creating missed opportunities for graduate students and similar profiles that required such an opportunity to progress their studies. The practical and in-office nature of internships fell under the scope of a working world that shifted to favour remote jobs

With a working society heading toward remote job and work from home preferences or a hybrid model of work, internship programs and roles too need adapting to fit the common mould. Whilst there’s still scope for internships to develop in this space, many remote opportunities are beginning to arise. These positions are also open-ended, in the sense that individuals can work in IT, finance, legal jobs, among others, no matter the geographical location of the applicant.  

Remote internships are yet to be concretely agreed on best practices across organisations. However, there’s a high probability that remote internships will continue to rise alongside present job market trends. Further, wherein the past unpaid internships were more accessible to individuals from more privileged backgrounds, remote opportunities can help dispel this divide with remote flexibility.  


Making the most of your internship  


No matter the kind of internship, these opportunities present valuable experiences that can propel you to your dream job in Malta or beyond. However, you must make the most of these opportunities and run with their positive implications. The following presents some ways to do this: 

  • Be punctual: make sure you attend the office on time or even early, and where the opportunity is remote—be actively online before a meeting commences. Complete tasks by their deadlines. Especially for short-term internships, punctuality is a trait commonly sought after in making a reliable and respectful colleague. 
  • Produce work of high quality: whatever task you’re handed to, be sure to put in your all, including when said tasks are mundane. There are often ways we can make our work better, even if it’s a matter of amending formatting and design elements to Word documents. This will show that you’re a determined individual and that you take your work seriously. 
  • Take initiative: if there’s one way to display poor commitment to an internship opportunity, it is sitting idly by until someone hands you something to do. If you notice certain tasks that can be done but hasn’t, or tasks that present innovative opportunities that haven’t yet been thought, be engaged, and offer to take these on. People remember interns who actively pursue their role in a company and forget those who made little difference. 
  • Do your research: it’s natural that in new positions, you’re bound to come up with a lot of questions preceding acting upon certain tasks. Before consulting a colleague, take the time to do some research and explore various resources that can provide you answers. This will show that you’re independent and able to take on a task backed by intuition. 
  • Be inquisitive: that being said, doing your research doesn’t mean you should never have questions to ask. It’s good to be curious of your surroundings and ask thoughtful, reflective questions. Spend time curating these so that when you ask, you can clarify your point further and not waste anyone’s time in doing so. We can learn a lot from our experienced colleagues, so it’s worth taking note of their actions as you engage in your internship.  

The above will help you build a community of working professionals and connections that last a lifetime. Spending time to create meaningful connections with your peers will be beneficial in any in-office or remote job. It’s good to be a memorable intern in offering to help where you can, and converse in topics that are less superficial in nature. Internships can be difficult at times, so it’s worth perceiving the challenge as its own opportunity to make the most of your learning experience.   

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