Here at Effikos, we constantly preach the gospel of finding strategic ways to boost your profile, especially if you graduated with a low grade, such as a third-class degree. If you are a regular, you may also know that we often highlight relevant internships as an excellent way to build your work experience and improve your standing. So, in this article, I will focus on internship opportunities for third-class graduates
You will learn why internships are important and how they are relevant in our world today. You will also get a sense of the different types of internships and how to find the right opportunities.
Meanwhile, if you are looking for scholarship opportunities for third-class graduates, read these articles to learn more:
Relevance of Internship Opportunities for Third-Class Graduates
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Internships are a form of (usually) short-term professional learning experience. These experiences help interns gain tangible entry-level work experience and exposure in a particular discipline. Many companies, institutions, and even non-profit organisations create internship opportunities for candidates who can benefit from the program.
Because they provide tangible and practical experience, internships are a great way to gain new skills and sharpen existing ones. They also offer exposure and widen the intern’s knowledge base.
An internship will help you reach your desired career path and build a successful career. Most of your activities as an intern would focus on the work and less on teaching because the idea was to help you apply classroom teachings over time. In other words, you are getting your hands dirty on the job.
So, as a graduate with a third-class degree, internship opportunities will be helpful to gain the knowledge and experience you may not be able to get because you don’t meet the criteria to get through the entry-level route.
While many employers and schools still emphasise your grades, there is more attention on experience and skills these days. Employers want to see how much you know and the value it brings to their business. So, internships are the way to go if you don’t have excellent grades that can get you an interview for full-time roles.
Benefits of Internships for Third-Class Graduates
Here are some of the relevant benefits of internships:
1. Deepens your knowledge
Several things may have seemed abstract to you during your undergraduate program and after graduation. Often, this is because you have not connected the dots yet, which is where an internship comes in.
An internship helps you to translate your learnings into real-life scenarios and, thus, deepen your knowledge. These will come in handy in a scholarship interview with a potential supervisor (if you’re going for graduate studies) or a future employer.
2. Gets you a foot in the door
It is no longer news that many job ads don’t get into the public space. Getting an internship in your dream industry is an excellent way to get your foot in the door and access better opportunities when they open up. You also have a higher chance of being employed where you interned by simply transitioning upwards from the intern role. It makes it easier for the employer since you may have understood the demands of the role and the work culture at the organisation. So, you would probably need little to no onboarding training. Trust most employers to go for the less stressful option.
3. Helps you build strong networks and connections
Given the short-term nature of internships, you would have to leave after a while, except you transition into a full-time role there. However, suppose you are a “sharpshooter”. In that case, your internship can be an opportunity for you to build your social capital and invest in valuable connections that will serve you later, even after your internship is over.
In addition, if a vacancy opens up where you interned, your networks there would remember you and pass the opportunity to you. Even if the opportunity opens up elsewhere and not in the same place you interned, they can also put in a good word for you.
More so, if you intend to go for further studies towards a graduate degree later, these people could potentially write recommendation letters for you as your former employers or trainers.
4. Provides work experience
You’re probably tired of seeing job adverts asking for a zillion years’ worth of work experience. Now, with internships, you can at least meet a fraction of that.
Indeed, whether you are applying for further studies and scholarships, or jobs, a bit of relevant work experience will always look good on your CV. An internship work experience will give you a fighting chance at getting a scholarship, admission or job offer.
5. Helps you develop transferable skills
You need to build hard skills, but internships also help you build solid transferable or soft skills. Irrespective of your industry, these skills are essential, including interpersonal relations, teamwork and collaboration, adaptability, ability to work under pressure, good work ethic, and problem-solving.
So even if you cannot secure an internship directly in your field of interest, you might decide to explore other places just to gain transferable skills. Wherever you go in life, these skills will come in handy for you.
6. Creates a foundation for career-building
Not everybody wants to go for further studies or look for a job after graduation. Some want to toe the line of entrepreneurship or take over the family business. One good way to gain essential business skills and knowledge is through internships.
So, an internship may serve as an opportunity to shadow and learn from someone. You get more exposed to the ins and outs of running a business, such as working in and managing a team, business strategy, etc. So, even with your 3rd class degree, you would have gained valuable business skills.
7. Improves decision making
Another thing to consider is that internships help you “taste” or “test drive” your future career path with little or no pressure. Such an opportunity can help you decide if the internship field is something you want to do for a long time or if you would like to pivot early instead of committing.
Types of Internship Opportunities for Third Class Graduates
There are several types of internships that you can consider. These opportunities are either paid or unpaid.
As the name suggests, these are internship opportunities in which you expect some monetary remuneration for work done. Paid internships are common in large reputable organisations that can afford to and are willing to pay interns. Payments are usually in the form of stipends. And as expected, this is the option people tend to choose.
With unpaid internships, you don’t expect any pay for work done. Ideally, your workload as an unpaid intern is comparatively lighter than for paid internship. But we know how these things go sometimes.
Unpaid internships are ideal for non-government organisations, religious organisations, and public sector parastatals that need volunteer interns. However, you can also intern in a company with the expectation that you would get other benefits even if you’re not getting monetary payment.
For instance, many are willing to be unpaid interns to get other opportunities requiring work experience. Some persons may choose unpaid internships so that they can have the name of a particular reputable organisation in their portfolio as a “booster”. Other reasons may include wanting to earn a certificate or getting recommendations and referrals.
The most common reason people opt for unpaid internships is so that they can harness the potential to transition into a full-time role. While it is not out of place to apply for paid internships, for someone with a third-class degree, you may also want to consider unpaid internships.
Meanwhile, both paid and unpaid internships can be structured or unstructured.
Structured internships usually follow a fixed format. Some professions require current students or recent graduates to do mandatory training as part of their assessment or requirement to practice the profession. For instance, Nigeria’s medical laboratory scientists and nurses must do a 1-year internship after graduation. An internship of the sort has a structure to it. And this will include training, rotations, and presentations. Like many good internship programmes, these opportunities provide an excellent path to build work experience as you practice under supervision.
Unstructured internships, however, don’t have a set format. You simply show up and work.
Internships could also be formal or informal. Formal internships are those programs where one goes through a formal job application process. Informal internships usually don’t require a formal application and could be on a word-of-mouth basis or a simple indication of interest. This internship is likely when a mentor agrees to take you on as an intern.
Internships Opportunities for Third Class Graduates
Graduate Trainee Programs
Organisations put together graduate trainee programs to attract new talent like fresh university graduates into entry-level roles. Many of these programs come with minimum requirements, which commonly include a minimum of a 2:1 degree in specific areas of study.
Virtual internships promise flexibility and independence, as you’ll primarily work and communicate online. It’s also an excellent avenue to do multiple internships at a time and even intern with brands outside your immediate location or country.
Where and How to Get Internship Opportunities as a Third Class Graduate
Walk in and pitch yourself
Yes, the world has gone digital, and you can apply for jobs and submit your CV online. But you don’t expect opportunities to always fall into your lap just because there’s more ease.
Master the art of physically walking into offices around your field of interest to pitch yourself as a potential intern. Your presence might impress them so much that they don’t bother with the low grades. You may even get an interview on the spot.
I know what you’re thinking – access to such companies, right? Well, this is where cold emailing comes in. Consider pitching yourself via email if you are privy to a top executive’s email address. Send a personal summary of your achievements and goals and what value you will be bringing to their company.
Alternatively, you can send them an InMail on LinkedIn. But be sure to learn about their work so that it can serve as a seamless conversation starter.
Leverage remote internships
If you have location constraints, you may want to consider applying for remote or virtual internships. Virtual internships allow you to enter the international market, where you can build global networks and develop world-class skills.
Many websites post updates on local and international internship opportunities. Do well to check them regularly and even subscribe to their newsletters to stay informed.
Meanwhile, the websites of potential companies you would love to work with also count. Check out their media updates and careers pages for openings. Even if you don’t find any, consider sending an email.
Get a mentor/coach
Another avenue you may want to explore is finding and building a professional relationship with a senior colleague in your field who can mentor you. Along the way, you can pitch yourself to intern with them or ask them to put in a good word for you to intern with any of their contacts.
Ask your network
Look around you and ask for referrals or introductions to places where you can intern. Even your former school or department can be an excellent place to start getting significant work experience.
How to Make the Most of Your Internship Experience
Many people have the opportunity to intern somewhere, and when they look back at their time there, they often wish they had made the most of you. That shouldn’t be you.
When you eventually get the internship opportunity you’ve always wanted, ensure that you take full advantage of the experience. Here are a few ways to make the most of your internship experience:
- Stand out. Be that star intern and let them know how much value you bring. Doing this can increase your chances of getting retained or getting stellar reviews later when you need recommendation letters for further studies. Your employer will be more willing to show you the ropes, which translates to more exposure.
- Ask for recommendations. Don’t “dull” yourself. As you’re leaving a unit or place, ask for recommendations. You can ask for recommendations in a “to whom it may concern” format or on your Linkedin profile.
- Network and build valuable connections. In all your networking, don’t focus solely on the higher-ups and ignore your peers or fellow interns. Ensure that you create a good relationship with them, as they can be a huge source of opportunities. One may know someone who can help you get a good job or maybe even be your business partner if you start one yourself.
- Know your worth. Your low grades aside, you’re doing your employer good as much as you’re benefitting from working with them. Your employer gets to have hands working with them, scope out talent at close range without long-term commitment and take advantage of the unique insights, time, energy, and other skills that you bring to the table. Not to mention how you are helping with managing the workload. However, it is essential to recognise the lines between knowing your value as an intern and being entitled.
Internships are great profile boosters and can give you a good edge when accessing opportunities for academic and career advancements, particularly for people with low grades. Look out for internship opportunities around you and make the most of them.