Internships: How to find, What to agree on and What to expect?
The first thing you do in your internship process is to think about what kind of internship you are looking for. This is an important decision because you will learn a lot about the specific job that you are going to do. Do not just randomly take opportunities that are easy to arrange or have a nice destination. Your internship is one of the most important learning processes in your study, so think carefully about what kind of job you want to have in the future, and try to find an internship that is as similar as possible. This way you will develop many basic skills that will be a big advantage for you once you start looking for a job after graduation. Another thing that can happen is that you might find out that you do not like the kind of job as much as you thought. In this case you can think about working in the same sector in the future but maybe in a different department or other subsector. If you do not like the sector at all, then at least you discovered this before you start working, and while you are finishing your studies you can start looking around for other possibilities and read extra books about other (sub) sectors that you are interested in.
How to find an internship?
Once you know what kind of internship you want you can start looking for opportunities. Another important decision that you have to make is whether you want to do an internship in your own country or not. If you are interested in learning new languages or do you want to improve your language skills, it will be highly recommendable to do your internship in another country. It has also other benefits because you will learn more about other cultures. When you look for an internship you can do it yourself or book a company to do this for you. There are many different companies that are willing to help you finding your internship, but this way will not be cheap. An advantage about this is that you get opportunities more easily and that you do not get involved with complicated contracts. But when you decide to look for an internship yourself you will learn a lot from the process, you will get involved with paperwork and will improve your organizing and time management skills. In both cases you will have to write a good motivation letter with a C.V., if you do not have a letter of motivation yet, I would suggest you to take a look at the C.V. section on this website.
What to agree on?
If you found the perfect internship, there is still a long way to go because now you have to sign contracts and do other paperwork. In many cases your school helps you with making a contract because they have a standard contract. But sometimes the company also has its own contract or you have to make one. When you are not working with the standard school contract, there are many things that you have to pay attention to:
- Are the dates correct? Keep in mind that 4 weeks are not the same as 1 month.
- Did the company mention all your payments and rewards on the contract?
- In case you get extra benefits like a place to live or transport compensation, then check if this is mentioned in your contract.
- Read the rules of the company carefully; is there anything that you do not agree with?
- Also do not forget to include a part that your supervisor has to assess your work. This is always helpful for your internship report.
- Check if you have the right to have free days, and if this is included in the contract.
- Check your working hours: are they correct and do they match the requirements of your school?
- Is the contract signed by all three parties (the school, your company and by yourself)
- Are your main working activities included in the contract?
- Think about the way that they described your working activities, are they concrete enough or are they very vague (watch out that they do not make you do things that are not related with your studies)?
- Always make spare copies of every contract
What to expect
An important thing that will prevent you from any kind of disappointment during your internship is that you know what you should expect. Be realistic about the situation, internships can, and should be a lot of fun, but your main reason that you are doing an internship is to learn. Always research the company a bit before you start working, and read your contract to see what kind of working activities you will have.
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