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Internships: The Guide to Finding Your Passion

I met Mary recently and I was totally shocked to find her in a new role and at a new company.

About a year earlier, Mary was an intern with us during one of our programs. After the internship she received an offer to work as a customer service representative with an oil and gas company and I hadn’t seen her since.

So, you can understand my reaction when I saw her now working in the People Manager department of an HR firm.

When we reconnected, she told me she decided to ditch her the customer service role for the HR position after she discovered her passion was human resources, a realization that came during her internship position at our firm.

This got me thinking and I recalled a saying, one that I have always preached, “Successful careers are planned and do not happen by accident.”

Most young people struggled from one career to the other. Sometimes they get lucky, but oftentimes many are not and therefore just settle down for any job they can get.

We spend a good amount of our lives at work (25 to 30 years!). What if you could find out what you love doing and then make a career out it? Well, it is completely possible!

There are different ways to get your dream career, but one of the best options (and one we will be discussing in this article) is through an internship position.

Let us now take a look into what an internship is and how you can use it to find your passion.

What is an internship?

An internship is an opportunity for potential employees to work in an organization, with or without pay, in order to gain work experience or to satisfy requirements for a position.

Internships offer students or young graduates a period of practical experience in the industry relating to their field of study. This experience is valuable to the students and young graduates as a means of allowing them to experience how their studies are applied in the real world.

Types of internships

There are a variety of internship options out there, and are typically divided into categories based on the time of year – whether they are seasonal or summer internships; credit versus non-credit – college internships that offer course credits or non-credited internships; paid versus unpaid internships.

Let’s look at a couple options that are becoming more popular:

Virtual internships: This is becoming increasingly popular due to advancements in technology, especially if you are in marketing or social media management. In this model, the intern is hired to work remotely, rather than being physically present within a “typical” office environment.

Rotational internships: This kind of internship continues to gain popularity as students makes efforts to focus on a career path or identify their passion. A rotational internship allows the intern to rotate between various departments of an organization or between various roles within a single department, allowing students or fresh graduates to work in various departments within a company and discover their professional strength while still working and providing support for the company operations.

How internship can help you find your passion

Now that you know a bit about what an internship is, let’s examine some of the ways you can use them to find your passion and thereby grow your career.

  1. Internship helps you gain real world experience

Interning with a company gives you a hands on opportunity to work in a professional environment. You practically get to know the core of the career path you are pursuing and you can now direct your passion or sharpen it to succeed in the field. Do you hate the sight of blood and still want a career in the medical field? Spend a week or two working in the hospital and you will know if you can survive in the medical profession.

  1. Networking

Have you heard the saying that your worth in five years time is a function of how any people you are able to build a relationship with? Internship helps you build this network. By working in an official environment, you are able to build a network of people who work in the same industry as you.

But there’s more! And this might shock you: The number one source of getting a job is through referrals. Meaning that, if you are able to network successfully with the people you meet during your internship, you may just end up finding your dream job.

  1. Resume builder

Most companies do not have the time or resources to properly train their new staff. Even when they do offer onboarding to new employees, they want (and expect) that person to already have background experience in the field. What other way to start building this background than to intern?

  1. Career foundation

Finally, internships create a foundation for your career. Internships offer you a great opportunity to kick start your career on the right foundation. You know the ins-and-outs of the job and you know what it takes to succeed — by networking properly. All you need do is put everything you have learned into practice and you have a better chance of building a successful career, compared to someone who is trying to get into the industry without any experience.

Internships can be a great opportunity to test the water, but they can also be a great way to launch you into your career. Before interning anywhere, take time to ask yourself this question:

  • Does it match my personal objectives and needs?
  • Does it match my professional goal?

Now go intern and find out!

About the Author Emmanuel Adegboye

Emmanuel Adegboye is a career coach and counselor. He shares his thoughts and tips on his platform CareerNaija. Connect with him on Twitter.

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