The Value of Internships

Internships & Volunteering May 17, 2024 No Comments
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Internships not only provide relevant and specific work experience – often a prerequisite to getting a job – but they can also strengthen your professional reputation and network. Internships are a common way to access the job market in many countries, particularly among young professionals.

As job opportunities have fluctuated significantly in recent years, mostly due to COVID-19, it is important to be aware that it’s less common than it used to be for an intern to get hired on a permanent basis after completing an internship. For example, a recent survey by Servicios Públicos de Empleo, the national employment service in Spain, found that only 8% of training and internship contracts transitioned into permanent contracts. Permanent positions are offered sometimes, but it is best to first and foremost think of internships as one of the best ways to improve a young candidate’s resumé/CV and give them solid, hands-on professional experience.

Moreover, completing an internship has become a requirement in many professional training and university graduate programs around the world. Because of this, many graduate students cannot obtain their degrees if they don’t do an internship (of usually around six months) at a company or institution in their area of study. These types of obligatory internships usually have to be based on an agreement between the school and the organization.

Beyond these regulated internships, it’s also common for young professionals to apply for voluntary internship positions. Employers usually advertise when they offer paid and/or unpaid internships, but it’s also widely acceptable to be considered for one by sending an unsolicited application.

Many, but not all, countries require organizations to pay a minimum compensation to interns who are officially working as part of the company or as part of an official graduate program. The issue of no compensation has generated some controversy in several countries around the world in recent years. The Spanish government, for instance, is currently working on the definition of a new ‘statute of interns/trainees,’ which should better define the rights and conditions of internship contracts in the country.

It is best to approach applying for internships the same as if you were applying for a job – make sure to research the organization, write a customized cover letter and resumé/CV and prepare for the interview.

In-Person and Virtual internships

In today’s world, both in-person and virtual internships are possible. While being in an in-person office environment can have some real value, virtual internships provide cost-effective opportunities to gain important work experience and build professional networks from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. And while interning remotely requires self-discipline, the experience also fosters valuable time management and digital communication skills, making you more competitive in today’s job market.

Check out the following resources for finding virtual internships:

Non-profits and NGOs

Non-profits and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are good places to look for internships. For example, Switzerland has welcomed international organizations for more than a century, and it has a ‘headquarters agreement’ with 25 international organizations, with 22 based in Geneva (French-speaking region), two in Bern (German-speaking), and one in Basel (German-speaking). Also, nearly 250 NGOs that advise the United Nations are based in the country. There is much opportunity for internships among this group of NGOs.

Things to Consider

  • In general, internships last about 2 to 6 months.
  • Working hours are typically full time, 8 am to 5 pm, for instance, with an hour break for lunch.
  • You do not always receive a salary.
  • If you are hired for an international internship, you may be required to assume all costs of boarding, travel to and from the country, and any other transportation costs.
  • If you are going abroad for an internship, you must also have health insurance for the duration of the internship.
  • Not all internships lead to full-time positions, but they do provide you with contacts, help build your network and boost your resumé/CV.
  • It is about the experience and not the pay!

Explore GoinGlobal’s Internship Database

GoinGlobal’s Internship database features millions of opportunities around the globe—all updated daily. Our proprietary search engine has the unique ability to identify internships that have been posted in the local language, as well as in English. Each internship opportunity lists the position title and description, company name, location and date of posting.

GoinGlobal makes it easy to search for internship positions in the nonprofit and international development fields, as well as opportunities with public and private organizations of every size and focus.

*Access to GoinGlobal’s resource database is provided through subscribing institutions. Contact your college/university’s career center or library for access instructions.

Mary Anne Thompson

Mary Anne Thompson founded GoinGlobal, Inc. more than two decades ago as a result of her own experiences job hunting in Sweden. She believes that to uncover the real job opportunities, you need the experience and personal insights of trained local specialists. Mary Anne continues to be an active CEO who shares her strategies and insights directly with clients to help them strategically maximize GoinGlobal’s unique resources.