As you await the start of university, some of you may be considering taking on internships to gain working experience, or perhaps earn some extra cash. Having done a couple of internships at different places like MOE Special Education Division, Duke-NUS Medical School and Learners’ Lodge, here’s my take on internships*. Are internships necessary and should you seek one? Read on to find out more!

Internships provide the perfect opportunity for you to explore and affirm your interests in that industry. You may have read stories, watched videos or heard experiences from other people about their work life, but nothing beats experiencing it yourself first-hand. Internships are usually over the span of weeks and months, so taking on an internship is a great chance to test your commitment to that industry. The timespan may be long enough for you to experience the joys and challenges of that role and can be a good point of reference when you are considering taking up similar roles in the future after university. 

Taking on an internship exposes you to the working world before university. Like most people would say, the working world is much different from school. There will be no one to push you, and you have to take ownership of your actions. However, it is utterly impossible to adapt to the working world overnight. Thus, doing internships will help to ease you in and aid you in managing your expectations about becoming a working adult. 

Of course, internships look good on your resume. They help to make you look motivated and the skills learnt during your internships can be applied in your internships in the future. In fact, these skills can make you become a more attractive candidate when competing with other applicants for internships in the future. For example, researchers may be more willing to take in interns with prior research experience, since the intern can probably understand and live up to the expectations quickly. 

If you are confused about which university course to take, try your hand at some internships! For example, you may be interested in doing a degree in Computer Science or an IT-related course. An internship will give you the chance to explore and experience doing coding on a day-to-day basis. If you enjoy your work, it may be a sign that taking an IT-related course would be a good idea. 

On the contrary, internships have their downsides. The remuneration is usually a few hundred dollars, which may not be appealing for some people. However, you will still be able to profit a lot from the valuable experiences learnt from your internships. Sometimes, there may not be much to do during an internship, thus depriving you of the full experience of working in that industry. Fret not, during your internship, you will have the opportunity to network with colleagues and learn some soft skills from them. 

If you are going for an internship soon and would like to make the most out of it, here are some things you might want to take note of:

  1. Jot down your experiences, especially those that you have never encountered before. 
  2. Be meticulous and put in effort in your work. 
  3. Stay open! It may be daunting to talk to colleagues who are much older than you but do try to network with some of them. This will make your life as an intern much easier too since you can look for them to get help if needed.
  4. Make yourself useful. If you have no work to do, be proactive and offer to help your supervisor or colleagues with simple work.
  5. Ask for a testimonial from your supervisor when your internship ends. This will be useful when you are applying for other internships in the future.
*This article is written by Gabrielle Lee, who interned for Learners’ Lodge, MOE Special Education Division and Duke-NUS Medical School. This is her take on why internships are important.