Once upon a time, internships were a rare luxury. Nowadays, an internship is considered part and parcel of a good degree programme.
The perceived value of internships is considered so high by both employers and employees that startups that cater to this growing market are now mushrooming.
In fact, contrary to conventional beliefs, employers actually prioritise internships over a potential employee’s college grades or academic institution.
Reflecting this, entry into internship programmes itself is becoming more competitive. The pre-internship immersion programme by Citibank – Citi Banking 101 Foundational Programme – is an example of this.
This two-week summer programme specially for university students in their pre-penultimate year consists of a three-pronged assessment where undergraduates are evaluated based on a post programme examination, case competition and peer evaluation.
Out of an average of 50 participants, only 20 are selected to join the following year’s internship programme.
However, this is not an everyday occurrence. In Singapore especially, practical limitations often hinder the optimisation of the demand-supply match for internships.
In fact, the very heart of Singapore’s economy, the finance and banking industry, has been overwhelmed by massive layoffs.
So how do these trends and current affairs affect Singapore’s internship landscape?
There has been a massive retrenchment, mostly from the middle-management. The younger associates are most probably required to take over these management roles, while maintaining their initial responsibilities and salary.
These associates may find it difficult to cope and hence, there is a need for assistance. Due to the financial uncertainties and costs-savings pressure, companies are more likely to hire fresh graduates, but only in the capacity of interns because of the lower remuneration. With fresh graduates competing for internship positions, many undergraduates find themselves desperate for any student employment opportunity.
Securing an internship is hence getting more competitive, and this competition is increasing given the current economic situation – a reflection of the typical Singaporean ‘kiasu’ culture.
So here are some tips on getting the most out of your internship experience:
Define your purpose
Do not apply for internships for the sake of it. More importantly, do not apply for popular internship positions simply because they are of higher demand than others. Do not be quick to leave out alternatives that may lead you to your end goal. Remember, internships are a means to an end, not the end.
Devise a strategy to beat the competition; it is not a bad idea to think out of the box. However, don’t get too absurd less it backfires on you. You can be creative without being dramatic. You can show your creativity subtly – in your cover letter, internship sourcing habits or resume.
Remember the purpose
While looking for an internship, remember why you are doing it. Internships first started in the 11th and 12th centuries during the rise of professional formal education and were intended to help graduates transit into their professional career before they obtained their official career licenses.
This should be your actual focus during the internship. You will find this experience invaluable to your future career.