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Six Questions to Ask Yourself Before Taking Up an Internship

internship tips

Undertaking an internship could be an incredibly smart move for your future career. An internship will effectively offer a taste-test of a job before fully committing to it as a career, and will give you the necessary work experience many employers are looking for. And, since internships are available across all kinds of jobs and industries, it’s possible to take on a few in order to get an idea of what you do and don’t like.

There are a few things to consider when taking on an internship; here are six questions to ask yourself before signing up.

Does my visa allow me to undertake an internship?

The most important thing to consider is whether your student visa allows you to take up an internship. Different student visas have their own conditions, which affect how many hours or days per week you can intern and whether you can receive payment. As there are multiple student visa types, it’s best to check your visa conditions on the Department of Home Affairs website.

How will this internship affect my other commitments?

Typically, an internship takes up a minimum of one work day per week. Internships are generally designed to fit around your studies, so it’s unlikely you’ll have to miss any lectures or tutorials. However, they can take time out of your week that you might otherwise dedicate to studying or doing assignments.

If you’re looking at taking on an internship, you have to consider whether it will impact your ability to perform at university. Perhaps it will take up too much time or it’s likely to drain your energy, leaving little room for study. If you do decide to sign up to an internship, make sure you organise your time so that other commitments don’t suffer.

In some cases, an internship is a mandatory part of a degree, or universities simply offer credit for undertaking a work placement. This lets you complete an internship in place of a subject, meaning it won’t affect class time. Make sure to check with your university or course coordinator to see if this is an option.

Does the company align with my values and interests?

One of the best ways to ensure a positive internship experience is to work with a company that aligns with your career goals. For some people, this might mean working with a company that has proven success in their desired field. For others, it might be a matter of working with companies who work towards goals that they’re passionate about, such as non-profit organisations.

Aligning your company choice with your own values and interests means you’ll be more likely to enjoy the work. This will affect your overall attitude and performance at work, which will impress your employer and potentially offer you greater opportunities.

Will I gain the right experience?

Because internships can vary depending on the role, company and industry, it’s important that you understand what you’ll be expected to do and what you’ll learn during your placement. Always make sure to read any job descriptions that are available and ask your potential employer as many questions as possible. Once you have a full understanding of the experience, you can properly consider if the internship offers new experiences and skillsets, or allows you to build on what you’ve already learned elsewhere. Then, you’ll be able to make a decision about whether or not the work will truly benefit your education and your career.

Is there potential for a permanent role?

When you’re applying for internships, you’ll find that some advertisements mention the potential for ongoing work. Upon applying, it’s important to ask your potential employer about the terms of their ongoing work. Helpful questions to ask can include, ‘Have you hired students who have completed your internship program before?’ and ‘What type of role do you envision this internship progressing to in the future?’ By asking these questions, you can gain more information on future opportunities while expressing your ambition to potential employers.

When considering a permanent role, make sure you check your visa conditions and, if you’re planning to work for the company after graduating, whether you need to need to apply for a particular work visa.

Am I being treated fairly?

In Australia, there are laws in place that protect your rights while undertaking placements. Internships should focus on providing interns with experience and education. They should not involve the intern completing work that would normally be fulfilled by a paid employee. You can find out more about your rights as an intern on the Fairwork Ombudsman website.