The start of the second term is always a busy time for university students, because it’s when we start applying for summer internships. It’s a topic that often comes up in conversation, because it also concerns our future career aspirations. For example, for those aiming for a career in finance or banking, there are interviews to prepare for, networking sessions to attend, and cover letters to write. So when the question of summer internships comes up, it is hard not to feel left-behind if you don’t have one lined up.
In my opinion, the reason internships are important is because they are an opportunity for self-discovery. Some people seek work experience to make their CV look impressive, earn some money, or secure a job for after they graduate. These are all valid reasons, but it’s important to remember that while doing the internship itself, you are learning what you like about a certain sector, job, and workplace.
When I think about what I’ve learned from past internships, I don’t just think about the skills I gained from doing daily tasks, but the realisations I came to about whether I would be happy to do a job like that full-time. I learned how I handled certain situations, what kind of tasks I did particularly well or struggled with, and what gave me the biggest sense of accomplishment.
These are all important lessons that will help me decide what I want to do after I graduate.
Even if you can’t get an internship with your dream company, it’s not the end of the world. In fact, it’s a chance to work somewhere else, volunteer, travel, and gain new experiences. This form of learning is also valuable, and shows future employers that you have diverse experiences.
Internships are a great opportunity to do a bit of self-discovery, to really consider whether your career goals work for you, and to get a glimpse of what your future might look like.
But even without an internship, there are many great ways to have a fulfilling summer. I for one will be using my summer to plan where to do my research for my final year dissertation, which I know will be a tough but rewarding experience.