Employers offer internship programs for various reasons. But it’s clear that opening their doors to interns is part of a good recruitment strategy because the company can scout for potential talents early on.
For students, an internship role can provide much needed real-world experience in their chosen fields. Internships are also part of the academic requirement before graduation. Apart from the scope of duties that interns must perform under their chosen programs, one other important factor that needs to be considered is the duration of the internship.
Will it matter if the program runs only for two weeks or should it go on for a full year? This article will discuss the different time lengths that are practiced by most companies in their internship program, and what students can do after rendering that period.
The Ideal Internship Duration
There is no fixed standard as to how long can an internship program last. Every company and every industry that hire scholars have different models to follow. But generally, an internship should not typically last longer than a temp job. Therefore, this could range from 3 to 6 months, but can also last up to a year.
No matter how long or short an internship is, what’s important is that it meets the objectives of both the student and the employer. The program should be long enough to allow the interns to accomplish their projects while also allowing the employers to achieve their business goals. A win-win scenario, so to speak.
So, when you ask for how long you should work as an intern, you’d get different answers. Even so, there are several factors that can somehow dictate the duration of an internship program. Most institutions divide internships into seasons based on the lengths of school breaks. So, you would typically hear internships being categorized into summer, spring, winter, and fall.
If you’re a college student, your internship program should be tailored to work around your school’s academic schedule. So, make sure to check out your university calendar before applying for an internship program.
Typical Internship Time Lengths
For the most part, internships only last for a few months. Companies base their programs on what works best for their organization and the interns they take in.
1. Semester Internships
This is the most common duration for an intern program and can be easily arranged. It can go for 8 to 12 weeks. Since a semester program coincides with a regular semester, students will juggle work and attend classes. Under this arrangement, students are treated like part-time employees. The good thing about this is that interns will be able to apply theories they learned in school and observe how real-world scenarios work.
Some companies that offer semester-length internships may choose to pay their interns some form of allowance or even minimum wage. There are also organizations that compensate student interns with academic credits that would be equivalent to hours worked.
2. Summer Internships
As the name suggests, this type of program is available during summer. Instead of going off for a vacation, many students opt for summer internships. Since typically there are no classes during the summer months, interns do not have to shuffle between classes and program duties. This allows them to focus on their work. Full-time summer internship programs can go from 8 to 12 weeks.
3. Full-Year Internships
These programs can last for the duration of an entire academic year or two semesters. Companies that open full-year programs usually do not pay wages during the first semester. But during the second semester, some companies may decide to compensate their interns, though this is not always the case.
It should be noted that interns under a full-year program are not always guaranteed to move on to the second half of the program. You need to perform your duties well to continue on to the second semester.
4. Externship Programs
This is a short-term internship where interns do not get actual work experience in the office. Instead, they simply observe a professional or full-time employee go through daily work duties. Externs, as students under this type of program are referred to, aim to gain firsthand perspective on the day-to-day affairs in their chosen field.
This program also allows students to network with companies and professionals in their industry, thereby making connections that can ultimately help the externs find jobs when they graduate. Externships can last anywhere from one day up to a couple of weeks. Overall, the program is aimed at entry-level functions in the workplace.
What to Do After Your Internship
Internships just give students a peek of the real world. For the most part, it is just done to fulfill an academic requirement, but it could be more than that if you know what to do next. Here’s what you can do after an internship:
- Show your gratitude
Your internship is both an opportunity and a privilege. Your internship has provided you with the proverbial foot in the door to your chosen field. So, at the end of your program, make sure to send in a note showing your appreciation to your employer and co-workers. Even if your experience was not what you expected, showing your appreciation will go a long way if ever you wanted to pursue a career with the company later on.
- Stay up-to-date with your employer
As mentioned earlier, internships are a great way to build your network in your chosen field. Before your program ends, make sure you get the contact information of your manager and co-workers. Better yet, add them to your professional profile on social media sites like LinkedIn. Always keep in touch. Your connections during your internship will help you find a job after you graduate.
- Ask for Feedback on Your Work
Your work as an intern can be used as basis for your job referral. If you accomplished all the duties handed to you by the employer, then it’s safe to say that you left a positive mark in the workplace. The only way to know if you did a good job is to ask for feedback.
If you have initiated or have been a part of a vital project, you can ask to check the status of that project. This will show your employer that you are concerned about the outcome of the functions that you did during your stint in the company. This may even lead to an invitation to work for the company full-time after you graduate.
- Update résumé with your internship details
After you successfully end your internship, you can proudly put the details on your résumé. This will reflect that you have gained relevant insights and some degree of experience when you apply for a real job. You have been exposed to challenges outside the four walls of a classroom, and you deserve a pat on the back.
Internship programs offer students actual experience in the field of their future careers. While it typically lasts for a few months or up to a year, these programs will arm the graduating student with knowledge and skills that are relevant for their respective field. An internship is just like a stepping stone towards a professional career. For many interns, this is the time to shine as internship roles can often lead to full-time jobs.