Hontestly, the main reason I’m at Exeter isn’t because my career plans relate directly to my degree; I’ve no burning desire to become the next Plato, or enter into politics. If I didn’t participate in societies and intern, I’m pretty sure there’s no way I’d get a job after university – and to be honest, I wouldn’t blame employers for binning an internship-free CV. Regardless of the ﬁeld you want to enter into, internships teach you so much more than just your degree can; especially if, like me, the ﬁeld you want to enter into is unrelated to your degree. When I’m applying for journalism jobs and masters, they won’t give a toss about my study of Hegelian philosophy; instead, they want to know where I’ve worked, and what practical experience I have.
internships teach you so much more than just your degree can
Upon realising that the study of philosophy was tragically not my true calling in life, I’ve made sure to spend a signiﬁcant amount of every summer and Christmas interning. I’ve worked my way up from a slightly depressing summer at my local newspaper (the highlight of which was chasing an escaped cow down the town high street) to national newspapers, spending this New Year working at the Sunday Times. In each internship, I’ve been challenged in ways I’d never imagined, improved my skills and learnt how to conduct myself in a professional environment. I just don’t see how, upon leaving University, you can seriously expect that you’re entitled to walk into a graduate job, if (other than your degree) you’ve done nothing practical whatsoever
to show your interest in the sector.
But I’m on track for a 1st, you might cry! That’s great, and not something to be sniffed at – but nearly one in four students now graduate with a 1st class degree. Just being successful academically isn’t enough anymore. You have to show passion, interest, and above all us, a willingness to work hard and put yourself out there.
A downside of internships is, of course, that they are often unpaid, and without the support of my parents, there’s no way I’d be able to do them. I would never do an unpaid internship for longer than two weeks, however; going beyond that is akin to what should be a paid role.
None of this is to say that an internship is the only route to a grad job. Of course, other factors matter, but by giving up some of your holiday to spend even a week doing an internship, you’ll be putting yourself in a much better position when it comes to job searching.