Internships and Apprenticeships: Which is a Better Fit for You?
Looking at the daunting world of working as a young adult can be unnerving, or at least it was for me. I was comfortable with being a student, both in high school and now college, and I was unsure if I could use the skills I learned in the classroom and apply them in a work setting. Lucky for me, and all of the other young adults who might share my fears, there are transitional positions available to those who are looking to enter the workforce. Internships and apprenticeships are both available to anyone looking to hone their skills and prepare for the careers ahead of them.
I went into college knowing two things: college was the path I wanted to take over a vocational/trade school, and I wanted to major in English. I did not know how I would use my English major, nor did I know what kind of job I wanted to obtain upon graduation. This is normal, and it is the main reason internships are so incredibly beneficial. Internships allow interns to gain on-the-job experience in a field they are considering upon entering after graduation.
This experience is one of the main pulls of an internship, as many internships are unpaid. Rather than getting a paycheck, interns receive valuable hands-on experience that can help boost resumes and make it easier for the intern to get a full-time position in the future. Completing an internship in high school or college can give that student a leg up on their peers after graduation because they might have skills others do not.
Another way students can get compensation for interning for a company is through college credit. This does not apply to every internship, but depending on the university or major you have, an internship might be a requirement to graduate. This required internship is, again, not necessarily going to be a paid position, but upon completion, the college or university might give the student credits toward graduation.
Hearing that an internship is required for graduation might sound frightening, but most schools provide many resources and connections for the student. Some universities will have classes dedicated to building a resume, writing a cover letter, and researching places to intern. Most colleges will hold internship fairs where students can meet with company representatives and get application information.
If you are not in college or if none of the options above are fruitful, online platforms are available to everyone. Sites like LinkedIn and Indeed allow users to create profiles based on their resumes and skills. Once the user has completed their profile, they can view many listings, including companies that are looking for interns.
Applying for internships will look similar to applying for full-time positions. A hopeful intern should have a resume and potentially a cover letter and, depending on the internship, a portfolio of work they have completed in college. An intern will have to interview just like any other employee, and there is no guarantee they will get the job, but since the application process is almost identical to full-time positions, just by applying the intern is gaining worthwhile experience.
Internships are wonderful opportunities to gain invaluable experience in a field that interests the intern. Internships are a place of learning, just like college or high school; they just take place outside of the classroom. Interns can be excited to grow in their skills and look forward to the careers that will open to them in the future.
Apprenticeships are similar to internships as they are also positions where the student is given an opportunity to learn job skills. Apprenticeships are available to anyone above the age of sixteen. While they are more common in trade fields, such as construction or electric work, they are also available in more cooperate fields such as banking or communications.
The major differences between apprenticeships are the pay and the format. Apprenticeships are always paid positions, and their pay will increase as the apprentice moves through the program. Most apprenticeships last anywhere between 1-6 years, and the apprentice will advance either based on the number of hours spent on the job or in the classroom, the ability to do the job competently, or both.
Apprenticeships are either hosted by a company, an independent apprenticeship agency, or labor/trade organizations, all of which have been approved to host apprentices by the federal Labor Department or the specific state apprenticeship agency.
The application process is comparable to any other job. Still, there is no expectation that the apprentice has any prior experience. Usually, the only requirements are a high school diploma or GED, but this does vary from program to program. Apprenticeships will be a mix of working and completing courses, whether that’s through the organization the apprentice is working for or through a partnering education provider. The education will be of no cost to the apprentice.
An apprenticeship is an alternative to college that can potentially still provide college credit based on the classes that the apprentice takes. For some apprenticeships, the apprentice will even have the opportunity to earn a college certificate or a college degree. Beyond just college credit, apprentices are usually considered full employees and can enjoy employee benefits, such as health care. Apprenticeships are also transitional opportunities for those who are looking to switch careers without ever losing an income.
Internships and apprenticeships are just two of the options that are available to those who are looking for a way to enter the workforce. They both provide a safe place to learn new skills while also gaining experience. Whether you choose to pursue an internship or an apprenticeship, you are equipping yourself with the experience needed to create a successful career!
Utilize State Offices | Apprenticeship.gov to see if your state has an apprenticeship office that can help you locate an appropriate internship. And to learn more about apprenticeships, please visit the American Institute for Innovative Apprenticeship.