The benefits and challenges of doing an internship
Categories: Youth Talk, Workplace Wellbeing, Self-care
Why do an internship, tips to land a nice opportunity and a few things to be careful about when choosing where to send your CV to.
The benefits and challenges of doing an internship

Welcome to our Youth Talk Blog, a section dedicated to youth lived-experiences with mental health and wellbeing, with weekly blog posts from diverse young people’s perspectives. This is a positive, fun and resourceful space, showcasing young people thriving and connecting with healthful activities, resources and support. This post has been written by Jess, our Community Education intern, who is a 23-year-old psychology student.

In these challenging times we are living in currently, it makes me feel grateful for what I did previously in the year, and has me reflecting on what I accomplished. I feel lucky to have landed an internship at Anxiety New Zealand Trust earlier on in the year, which has been an amazing learning experience for me. I had been looking forward all throughout my degree to receive real world experience in the field I am studying. I was eager to see the reality of working in a mental health organisation, and what this would be like, as well as seeing what skills and knowledge I learnt throughout my degree I could apply to a real work environment. I am very pleased now, looking back on my experience, about what I have learnt and the confidence I have gathered in working at this placement.

I know for most people beginning a new job or internship, especially going to interviews, can be quite nerve-wrecking. What I found to be helpful is brainstorming interview questions. This could involve speaking about myself and my hobbies, my aspirations or goals for the future, why I have approached the organisation and why I have these specific goals/aims. This helps me being prepared for an interview. I also find it is helpful to think about these important aspects in general, when going about so-called ‘crossroads’ in one's life, as part of self-reflection and where one would want to go next.

A major benefit of my work placement and internships in general is gaining hands-on work experience, which is invaluable and cannot be received in a classroom. I have been able to apply knowledge I have gained throughout my degree into a professional real world setting, as well as giving me more context on the reality of working in the field of mental health. Valuable skills are another benefit from internships; skills such as communication, software skills and teamwork are things I have also developed which are transferable to many aspects of life as well as for future jobs. 

Another benefit I have gained from this experience is learning more about myself and what my strengths and weaknesses are. In gaining more experience one can learn more about themselves and possibly more on what they would like to do next. 

However, it is important to ensure that the internship can offer learning opportunities. For instance, not doing tasks that promote learning can be a disadvantage. It is important to choose companies and organisations that will treat you fairly and provide you the valuable experience you are after, in my case I am lucky to have done this. So this is an important factor to keep in mind when starting the search. Most internships aren’t paid, which reinforces the importance of being at a place you enjoy working. Your “payment”, so to speak, will be experience and skills to take with you in exchange for the work that you are putting in.

So make sure you do your research so you can be in a place that works for you, and that will provide you with significant work experience. It can be daunting making this first big step for some after or while studying, but it is one foot in the door to the next exciting adventure. One good piece of advice I’ve been given is that one should aim to find a career or job that makes it easy for you to get out of bed in the morning.  In order to do this, you have to start somewhere to embark on the journey of learning more about yourself and just what it is that you prefer to do. 


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