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Internships are a great way to gain work experience in your chosen field. While they’re unsurprisingly very competitive to get onto, there are many benefits to doing one. You can gain hands-on experience at a relevant company, making connections that could potentially lead to a job in the future. Plus, there are loads of chances to get paid. Lots of people choose to do internships when they’ve finished university, however you might be wondering if you can do an internship during university to get ahead. Here’s all you need to know about whether or not you can do an internship while you’re still studying at uni – and – if it’s a good idea.

Why should you do an internship?

Can you do an internship during university?
Source: LinkedIn

Well, there are many reasons why you should do an internship. For instance, it allows you to take information and skills that you have learnt in your degree and apply them to the working world. With that preparation, it makes you a more attractive candidate when applying for jobs post-graduation, whether that is thanks to your skills or from connections that you’ve made. It helps you to improve your professionalism skills like leadership and teamwork, and it helps you to improve your C.V. There are so many reasons why you should do an internship.  

The benefits of doing an internship during university

doing an internship while at univeristy

Doing an internship during university is a decision with lots of benefits. Firstly, it offers a taste of the real world, so everything you’ve learned at uni isn’t just some abstract, theoretical random knowledge but practical info too. This hands-on experience is invaluable, providing an insight into your chosen field that you can’t get from textbooks alone.

Internships also serve as a powerful networking tool. They introduce you to professionals in your field, offering a chance to make connections that could be crucial for your future career. These contacts can provide references, job leads, and mentorship opportunities long after the internship has ended.

Moreover, internships significantly boost your employability, which is great for if you’ve got anxiety about finishing uni. In a competitive job market, having internship experience on your CV sets you apart. It shows potential employers that you have practical experience, initiative, and a willingness to learn. Many employers look favourably upon candidates who have taken the initiative to gain industry experience, often considering them more job-ready than their peers without such experience.

Finally, internships can sometimes lead to job offers. Companies often use internships as a way to trial potential future employees. Performing well in an internship can put you in a prime position to be offered a full-time role upon graduation.

When should you do an internship while still at uni?

Can you do an internship during university?

You can do an internship during university at any time. However, it’s generally recommended that you do an internship somewhere in the middle of your studies. If you do it in your first year, you might struggle with adjusting to uni life. But, if you do it too late, you might struggle when it comes to workload (usually the final year of uni is the heaviest, which is when you do your dissertation). As a current final semester, final year student, I wouldn’t recommend it. You’ll have way too much going on to fit an internship in there as well. If you do it somewhere in the middle, you’ll have some teaching under your belt, which should give you more of an idea of what specifically you want to do an internship in, but won’t be during a critical time in your degree. 

You could also consider doing an internship during your university break. There are tons of summer internships that won’t hinder your studying. However, you should also weigh up whether you want to work during this time or have a little break.

What sort of internship should you do?

Can you do an internship during university?
Source: British Institute of Interior Design

So, what sort of internship should you do? Well, it completely depends on what you’re studying! There are internships in every field and are offered by a wide range of companies from small companies to government departments and large, multinational corporations. There is simply something for everyone on offer. That is why it is important to research possible internships as much as possible before applying. 

How to balance internships with university work and studying

balancing uni studies with internships

Balancing an internship with university studies can seem like a tightrope walk, but just remember that it is doable. The key lies in mastering the art of time management. Start by creating a structured schedule that accommodates both your academic responsibilities and internship commitments. Use tools like digital calendars or planners to map out your week, ensuring you allocate sufficient time for lectures, study sessions, and internship work.

Prioritising tasks is also really helpful. Identify which assignments are urgent and important, and tackle them first. Don’t forget to communicate with your professors and internship supervisor about your schedule. They can often offer flexibility or advice on managing your workload.

Another vital aspect is setting realistic goals. Understand that you might not be able to commit to a full-time internship while studying full-time. Look for part-time or flexible internships that align with your academic timetable. Remember, it’s about quality, not quantity. A well-balanced internship experience, even if it’s part-time, can be incredibly beneficial.

Lastly, don’t underestimate the importance of self-care. Juggling studies and an internship can be stressful, so ensure you set aside time for relaxation and hobbies. Maintaining a healthy balance is key to avoiding burnout and ensuring you can perform optimally in both areas. Here’s some more tips on self care for students that might help you out.

Can you do an internship for university credit? 

Can you do an internship for university credit? 

This is another one that completely depends on your university and what you’re studying. Your department may offer placements that you can take as a module that can give you credit towards your degree. This won’t be the case for every degree at every uni. As I’m sure you can assume, if your degree offers this, they will have limited places and it’ll be super competitive to get onto. So, do your research and try to apply as early as possible. 

How to find an internship?

How to find an internship?

Arguably the most important question is, how do you find an internship? Well, there are many ways to find internships. Your university will likely have some sort of career services that can help direct you in the direction of suitable internships for your career field. On top of that, companies will often post internships on job sites like LinkedIn, Indeed and Prospects. This likely won’t be as straightforward as going through your university career services, but it will open you up to a wider range of suitable internships. Otherwise, if there is a specific company that you want to work at, then they will post any internships on their company website. 

So if you’re asking yourself ‘can you do an internship during university?’, the simple answer is yes! Internships are a great thing to do while at university. Generally, it’s better to do one during the summer holidays as you don’t have university to focus on as well. But, if you feel like you can manage an internship alongside your studies, then go for it! 

Absolutely! It's all about finding the right balance and internship that fits your schedule.

No, internships are available in a wide range of fields. It's about finding the one that suits your interests and career aspirations.

This varies greatly - from a few weeks to several months. It depends on the organisation and the type of internship.

In many cases, yes! Internships are a great way to get your foot in the door and impress potential employers.