Internships And Other Career Experience Activities
Traditional internships are still the most popular among employers. Interns typically work under a mentor or supervisor to complete assigned tasks or projects as defined by the employer. The employer also specifies the length of the internship and number of hours per week.
Virtual internships, though considered fairly novel by some, are becoming more popular. They involve work that is done entirely by computer and remotely, usually involving online research. There is no need to report to a physical work location. Virtual internships save on travel and relocation costs, and allow maximum flexibility in working hours. If the work requirements permit, they also can allow the intern to sample several different internships simultaneously.
Special projects. Many students are employed full-time while completing their degree and hope to make a career change within their current organization. Finding opportunities to gain new experiences and prepare for this transition can be challenging. However, many students have successfully worked with their company and manager to identify special projects, ad-hoc teams, or cross-functional teams that provide exposure and experience in new areas of interest. It may not be an internship in the traditional sense of the word, but it provides an employee/student with the experience needed.
Part-time work. Many students are able to satisfy the need to get experience by obtaining a part-time job related to their field of study. By broadening a search and investigating a variety of options, students may find many other opportunities other than an internship for valuable experience.
Volunteering. There are many organizations that depend on volunteers to help them accomplish their goals. Volunteering is a great way to gain experience, demonstrate skill and help the community.
Informational interviews. While not exactly an opportunity to gain experience, these meetings are a way to connect with people already working in your area of interest and can provide you with information on what it is really like to work in the field.
Job shadowing generally involves observing or shadowing a professional through a typical day or two of activities. This could also include informational interviews with a tour of the facility, and possibly even participation in actual office projects.
Professional associations. A lot of people don't think of membership in a professional association as a way to gain experience, but most organizations have committees that carry out the business of the association. Those committees are made up of volunteer members. This is a great way to gain more relevant experience and to start connecting with other professionals.
Other terms you will hear used are practicum and co-op programs. These and the above terms are often used interchangeably by different schools and programs and they all provide career relevant experience.