19 Jul 2013

Q&A: Should I Intern or Work Full-Time After Graduating?

As a university undergraduate, I’ve had a couple of fulfilling internships but I feel that I’ve still got much to learn about the working world. Should I continue interning or look for a full-time position after graduation?


Internships are often seen as no-man’s land, neither a step up the corporate ladder nor a significant stepping stone towards learning industry trade secrets, although often a necessary sacrifice for fresh graduates looking to blood themselves in the working world.

But in Singapore, the land of fast-paced living and 50-hour work weeks, there is an intrinsic pressure to enter the workforce upon graduation. As a result, some undergraduates forgo the idea of an internship to get a leg up on their peers when entering the workforce.

It may be a no-brainer to try and secure a full-time job over an internship, especially if you have hefty student loans to pay off – after all, why gain experience as an intern when I can spend the same time gaining experience as a proper working professional? Here are some points to ponder before deciding whether to embark on an internship after tossing your mortarboard.


Have You Had Previous Relevant Experience?
If you are already well-versed in the field of the internship you are going to undertake, ask yourself: is your primary motivation geared toward staying in your comfort zone and managing smaller responsibilities?

Note that you can never be completely ready for a full-time job as a fresh graduate, and some degree of on-the-job training is necessary. If you have already completed your fair share of internships, collaborative research, volunteer experiences and are (theoretically) qualified for a full-time job you’ve been eyeing, take a leap of faith and go for it!


Valuable, or Not?
On the other hand, if your prospective internship will expose you to new opportunities, try to identify the specific aspect that would be most invaluable. This particular skillset will probably be the one that will aid you considerably in your future career.

For example, if an internship allows you to learn social media marketing, something you have next to no knowledge of, then the opportunity is likely to be a good time investment.


Can You Commit?
Organisations usually expect interns to stick around for a set period, up to and including a few months at the bare minimum. If you want to take some time off before starting your internship proper, make sure that you are committed to the cause.

Leaving mid-way not only ruins a company’s impression of your work ethic, but you are also unlikely to learn anything meaningful from the internship.


Got to Pay the Bills
You should know that an internship only pays for your transport and your meals and little else, if that. If you are truly intent on an internship after graduating, make sure you have other sources of income to tide you by, be they freelancing or other flexible part-time work. This will not only help you pay the bills, but also get your nagging parents off your back!

Contributed by JobsCentral Pte Ltd