Get experience before you make career choices.

This is a collaborative post sharing some thoughts on work experience, career choices and internships as we help our oldest child navigate her future.

It’s hard to believe that my daughter is facing making choices about her future, and is growing up. It seems like only yesterday her most complicated life choice was what socks to wear with her favourite outfit and what toy she wanted to take with her to a playdate with a friend.

Now, as we face the next steps in her educational life, and choosing sixth form colleges and A level choices, not far behind looms the prospect of university and what she may want to choose as a career.

She does have some idea of what she wants to do with her life, but those are not fully fixed yet. At 15, life looks very different to her as she faces adulthood, to us, as adults who have “been there and done that”.

She does know that she doesn’t want to go to university straight away after completing her A levels. She wants to take a year or so out, to get a job, and also to possibly do some travel with friends. The career path she may choose is one that is quite intense and niche, so I want her to get some experience in that field before she commits to university and the costs involved. We are supporting her in her choices and gently guiding her but also know that she has to decide what she wants and face the adult world.

It can be tricky, and sometimes I think that young people come out of university still not know exactly what they want to do in life, and it’s a good idea to have a plan, and to figure life out. Whilst university is a great life and education experience it doesn’t always entirely prepare you for the real world of work and employment.

Internships are a great way to do that. Working with people or in a company in a field you may have interest in, to get practical experience, learn what it’s like to be in a job, and manage working life, gain knowledge and skills, but in a less pressured way that allows you to grow and mature. You could consider an internship before you go to university after college or after you have graduated to keep your options open.

What is an internship?

An internship is a period of work experience, offered by an organisation, lasting for a fixed period of time anywhere between a week and 12 months. They are typically undertaken by students and graduates looking to gain relevant skills.

career choices

It’s a useful route to gaining work experience and giving you an idea of what working in a field you have chosen or are thinking of choosing, might be like. It can also be a foothold on the job ladder, if you have a successful time in your internship you may find that the company you worked with will offer you a full time role and start you on your career path. Or it may give you the impetus to explore other options. It’s also a great way for companies to train and encourage young people coming out of education and bring them into the workplace to learn and grow. It’s a great way to recruit young and enthusiastic potential employees who want to learn and contribute and excel. You could even take it up a level and try and international marketing internships and work abroad for a period of time to broaden your horizons even further.

It’s something I would have loved to have done, and might have helped me to make more consistent choices in my career path (I am very content where I am now, but it took me a long time to get there)

I think it’s something worth considering and more and more companies are opening up this opportunity and looking to build internships into their working practice.

It will be on our list of things to think about as we help our teenager plan her future and what her working life may look like. Helping her to be ready to face the working world with skills and confidence is something we feel is very important and an internship may be something she will be applying for, when the time comes.

Have you thought about internships as a post university work choice to help you find your feet and build skills and experience to help with career choices? We’d love to hear how it worked for you.

Posted in Family Life and Parenting and tagged career choices, educational choices, internships, university.