If you’re a student studying information technology or a postgraduate who needs to get some more experience, IT internships are a very attractive option. They give you a chance to get hands-on experience with the industry, the people in it and the general work ethic entailed.
However, plenty of placements can be terrible, amounting to little more than slave labour or are simply unengaging and don’t teach you much. Sometimes this can be because of predatory hiring practices but it could also be because the firm you select is not a great work environment.
So, let’s take a look at what the positive traits of great IT internships look like.
1: They give you a chance to actually learn useful industry-specific skills
While many people apply for IT internships just to get something on their resume, they are missing out if the placement doesn’t actually teach them any employable skills. While getting some experience in a professional office environment is always a good thing, it won’t help you very much when you apply for industry jobs that are looking for someone with practical experience in the actual type of work being done.
Some essential skills you should hope to learn during any information technology placement include; project management, coding, troubleshooting, network repair, system diagnostics and more. While you probably won’t have the opportunity to get hands on experience with every single thing the company does, you should at least come away with 2 or 3 employable skills.
If you all you end up doing are basic office admin tasks and grabbing coffees for everyone, then it’s really just a big waste of time.
While it isn’t always possible, the mark of a great IT internship is when you meet and connect with a mentor who really trains you up to be successful in the industry. They will tell you some “real truths” and break down common myths you have so that you can be successful from day one in whatever role you end up moving on to.
They will also be a great contact for you to engage in the future if you have any questions or issues in the early stages of your career.
3: Being able to have an actual impact
Another mark of great IT internships is when you actually get to make a meaningful impact during your time there. This could mean laying the finishing touches on a project or suggesting an idea that actually gets implemented.
Not only do these things look great to future employers, they make you feel good about yourself and reaffirm your decision to get into the industry in the first place. While a lot of the work you do throughout your career will lean toward the repetitive or mundane (just a fact of life), knowing when and how to make big creative contributions really makes it more than ‘just a job’.
4: A chance at being employed full time
The best IT internships will have some kind of opportunity for you to get a job out of them. While nothing is ever guaranteed, it’s always good to give yourself the best chance possible of gaining employment.
Getting a job out of your IT internship is really useful because you will already pretty much be done with the training phase. You’ll already be comfortable in the office space, know people and be able to use all of the relevant systems.
This means that you can really get into the work straight away and make a meaningful impact. Coming out of a placement and into a full-time role also looks really good on resumes when you eventually switch to another company.