The truth about internships

Many people leave college or university believing they’re going to walk into their dream job. And then they become disillusioned as soon as they start sending out their CV. Jobs don’t grow on trees and the perfect job is going to take many years of hard work to earn. It’s best you learn the facts now: there are countless other fresh graduates just like you who are all applying for the same job.

That’s why internships are so popular. They give you that much-needed experience you need to get ahead of the rest. But internships are no walk in the park. You’re going to have to work harder than you’ve ever worked before for very little money. Here is the truth about internships so you’re not caught by surprise.

They aren’t supposed to be fun

If you’re expecting to walk into the office with a smile every day and keep that grin on your face from nine to five, you’re sorely mistaken. Work is not meant to be fun. It’s meant to be difficult, especially at this stage. You’re going to be learning from scratch and that’s going to take all the energy you have. If you’re lucky, you’ll find yourself in a cool team that jokes around but you’re still going to have more work than you’ve ever had before. And that’s how it’s meant to be.

You’ll probably have to make coffee

There’s nothing wrong with making coffee (or tea). Someone has to do it and why should those with the most difficult jobs and senior titles have to take time out of their day to make it? They have you. And you’re going to be expected to do it with a smile on your face. The sooner you get used to everyone’s very specific order, the better. It’ll only help you make friends at your new office. Always remember you’re performing a very important task for the team.

Most of the tasks will suck

You’re not going to walk into your internship and be given the best work on the first day. In fact, that’s not going to happen for a long time. As it should be. You see, a senior employee who has spent years in the industry honing their skills is not going to give up a task they really enjoy so you can be happy. Instead, they’re going to hand you all the tasks they don’t want to do. From filling out reports to taking lunch orders, you’re going to be doing whatever they need to be done and you’re expected to smile and nod your head.

You’re not the best at what you do

Keep your ego in check. You’re not as good as you think you are. You’re going to be working with people who have been doing their job for many years and know exactly what they’re talking about at all times. If you walk in there thinking you’re the best thing since Facebook, you’re not going to last very long. No matter how great your marks were as a student, what projects you’ve worked on and who you know in the industry, you’re at the very bottom. Get used to it.

You don’t get to complain

You may notice that more senior employees moan about how much work they have and how they’re working overtime to meet deadlines. They’ve earned the right to make those comments. You have not. Don’t even try to join in on those conversations. They’ve all been where you are and they made it out alive. There’s no way they’re going to pity you.

There will be very few benefits

Interns don’t get paid much. That’s just the way it works. A company is not going to pay a large amount of money to hire someone who hasn’t even begun to develop their skill set yet. It’s not ideal but that’s just the way it is. And you’ll have to search high and low for a company that offers benefits like medical health insurance in South Africa. To be honest, you’ll be lucky if there’s a parking space available to you.

There’s no guarantee of a job

Internships don’t always end in a job offer. And that’s not necessarily because of the quality of your work or your attitude. It’s because many businesses make use of interns as cheap labour. It may not be fair but it’s the reality. Some businesses even hire multiple interns and let them battle it out for one position. That’s just the way the cruel working world works.

But don’t despair. Don’t be discouraged. Don’t give up on any chance you’re offered. Because, at the end of the day, any internship is an amazing opportunity. You’re going to be given the chance to gain experience in the field you want to work in. That’s not something to turn your nose up at. Any internship, no matter where, will look good on your CV and help you out in the long run.


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