Warning: Internships Actually Work

Warning: Internships Actually Work

Time to think ahead! This is the time of the year to begin your career planning, ahead of the upcoming summer vacation.  Students in secondary school, college, and university should spent time reflecting on their interests and goals. Those seeking to join the workforce should take their first steps forward.

The stubbornly high unemployment rates are a strong indicator of the difficulty in getting a job. Typically the real unemployment rate is higher than the published rate. With the rate hovering around 20%, the unemployment rate for younger people is much higher; therefore an internship can play a decisive moment in your career.  Internships provide practical work experience, exposure to new industries and most importantly a chance to demonstrate to your employer how you can contribute to their establishment.

The Caribbean has taken decades proving that students from all backgrounds can move through secondary education and into the many degree courses available throughout the region. The difficulty is that after so many students have completed their university course with successful results, there are insufficient numbers of jobs waiting in their own country.

From the employers’ perspective, many of the graduates applying for positions within their organisation have no working experience whatsoever. The problem for job applicants is that while they have the qualifications they cannot gain the necessary work experience to set themselves ahead of the competition for the few jobs that are still available.

So, consider an internship and work an experience for free.

Assistance for your career path

Internship can prove to be the only way you get to add suitable experience to your CV which takes you up the fighting list for employed and paid positions.

The benefits for the intern:

•    You get to see if you like the company
•    You find out if you like the work
•    You get to prove your abilities
•    You will leave an impression – preferably a great one
•    You observe how you mix with people who work for that organisation
•    You have a good score to add to your CV

The benefits for an employer:

•    You learn the intern’s qualities
•    You find out if the intern fits in your business
•    You study the intern’s people skills
•    You save on interview costs if you later employ the intern
•    You find out if your intern programme is successful

The arguments against internship

There are some arguments against the use of internship. Union leaders often believe that companies who consistently advertise for interns save taking people off the unemployment register and the associated company costs.

Free labour can be seen as a good financial move for some businesses, especially in difficult times, but an intern’s role in supposed to be just a few months long and isn’t designed to replace a fully employed person.

A proven establishment in the U.S.

In the U.S., the role of the intern has taken over the legal and medical professions where working as an intern is an expected procedure during your evaluation when an employer decides if you are long term employable, for their advantage. If you want to buy a MacDonald’s franchise, you get to work in one for six months, for free.

For the intern, working for free gives you the opportunity to try different roles within a company and to see if you’re going to fit in or whether you should be looking for either a career change soon, or strike out on your own as a self- employed individual.

Finally, if you decide an internship is good for you, take a proactive approach. Be responsible, come to work on time, and demonstrate you are willing to walk the extra mile and assist in additional tasks.

The writer is the founder and CEO of Axcel Finance Ltd., the leading regional microfinance institution. Share your thoughts and email your questions to [email protected]


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  1. instead of an internship I would suggest a paid trainee program. Internships work in the US where there are plenty jobs and low unemployment. In our situation where jobs are scare companies are not looking for interns, they are looking for full time staff. And, free cannot pay student loans, and the rising cost of everything else. we need a solution for our neck of the woods.


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