Before delving into what makes internships, learnerships and work experience different, it is good to know that all three do provide a platform for you to learn and gain some exposure in whatever field you choose to pursue.
Like all things, however, there are aspects to each of these that makes them different and it is always beneficial to know what route to take when pursuing either an internship, learnership or work experience.
One of the key points to note regarding internships is that every internship has a set period in which an organization will allocate to the fulfilment of that it. Some internships will run from a period of 1 month, sometimes 3-6 months or even a year. An internship can be paid or unpaid, with some internships also providing the option of a full- or part-time internship.
An unpaid internship often has some students questioning the fact that they will not be receiving any form of pay or minimum wage for the hours they put in. This issue is all dependent on the type of organization or company you are working for and the type of internship you are doing. To find out more about the applicability of minimum wage and who qualifies for this, you can go to the Government website and read up on the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wages.
Most internships are taken up by students and graduates in the hopes of attaining a level of experience and skill-building. Internships provide a structured working experience and exposure that is aligned with your particular field of study. The main focus of an internship is to give you a feel of a full-time working environment and what a particular role is like, while simultaneously facilitating the enhancement of both your personal and career development.
If you are looking to find some internships and do not know where to start, the government graduate talent pool is quite useful. GT Scholars is also a good starting point if you are feeling a little lost and not sure what career path you would want to take and need some guidance and assistance with gaining confidence in your skills and personal development.
Learnerships are slightly different from internships and they are a popular approach being used by companies in order to develop individual skills and gain real work experience. A learnership is essentially a structured training programme that has both practical and theoretical elements that allow for those undertaking it to obtain a national qualification without having a formal education from a tertiary institution.
This simply means that those doing learnerships are able to gain the exposure of working that an intern would without having the qualification of a graduate. Learnerships tend to target students or individuals who have their GCSE as their highest qualification. The learnership is an avenue that allows them to obtain a national qualification while simultaneously working. Simply put, a learnership is a work-based learning programme and yes, most learnerships are paid.
Unlike an internship which involves an agreement between an employer or company and the intern, a learnership contract involves an employer, you the learner, and a training provider. The practical aspect of a learnership is facilitated by your employer through the provision of training, mentoring and guidance for the time that you will be taking on the learnership. The training provider facilitates the theoretical aspect of a learnership. This is the same as having a typical classroom session in which you are taught specific things in order to apply them to your role in that learnership.
A work experience programme, sometimes known as a work placement, differs from an internship or learnership as this role has less extensive training or requirements than the previous two. It is more of an observatory learning role. Student work experience can be gained in a number of ways with the most common work experience programmes being work placements, volunteer programmes, careers events, and insight days set by certain employers for school-leavers.
Work placements can be arranged by your school or you can take the initiative yourself, and this runs over a short period of a week in a certain organization or location in order to give you a first-hand look of what working at a particular organization can be like.
Careers events are usually organized by either schools or organizations in order to meet employers who will give insight into what their organizations are about and what opportunities they offer to students and school-leavers. Some organizations will have a careers day or an after-school career programme in which students can participate in.
Volunteering is an open-ended field and there are always opportunities to apply yourself to and serve in your community. You can go look at the Volunteer Matters website to get you started and help you with both your career and personal development.
Other working avenues to get yourself involved in are extracurricular activities such as after-school academic, social or entrepreneur programmes or clubs and applying for competitions that focus on the working world. Applying for student leadership roles in school and afterschool clubs are also a good way to develop your working experience and personal skills.
Whether you decide to go for an internship, learnership or work experience, all three provide a platform for you to develop yourself both personally and professionally. Being prepared for them is just as important as applying for them. One of the best ways to prepare for them is to invest in your personal development and these are your skills, confidence and all-round performance in and outside of school.
GT Scholars is one avenue that can definitely help you in preparation for the future roles and career paths you want to explore. GT Scholars offers a variety of strategically designed programmes and workshops that aid in enriching and developing you to be the best version of yourself.