What Is A Career Change Internship? (A Complete Guide)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 3 March 2023

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Making a career change can be the start of a new and exciting vocation. While it sometimes seems difficult to switch from one occupation to another, there are opportunities to pursue an alternative career path, whether by further studies or by garnering work experience. An on-site internship provides on-the-job training, but there are also part-time and remote internships that enable you to continue in your regular job whilst learning something new. In this article, we define a career change internship, outline its pros and cons, discuss how to find one, and explain the differences between an internship and an apprenticeship.

What Is A Career Change Internship?

Like any other internship, a career change internship is typically a short-term appointment that provides you with the required industry-specific skills and experience to equip you for a particular role. Apart from helping you to learn about the job and its responsibilities, it gives you the opportunity to try out a new role to confirm it is the right one for you before you actually make the career change. It is also a useful addition to your curriculum vitae (CV), showing your keenness to learn and develop your skills.

Related: What Are Internships And How Do You Find One?

How To Get A Change In Career Internship?

Once you have decided to pursue an internship for a career change, consider letting the people in your contacts network know about it. You might also join a professional association related to your chosen field, which may help you grow your professional network. Look for internship opportunities for the role or within the industry sector that interests you. Conduct online searches on job portals and company websites. Here are some steps you can follow to help you secure a change in career internship:

1. Research internships online

An internship provides you with transferable skills that increase your value to potential employers. An online search may reveal some professional internships that focus specifically on an older demographic. These internships may suit someone on a career path change or someone re-entering the workplace, but wanting a different role from the one they left.

You may find recruiters looking for interns who already have experience in a similar industry. These opportunities might be ideal for someone wanting to start a new career within a familiar sector. For instance, if you are or were a receptionist in a doctor's surgery, there are many other roles in the healthcare sector where you can intern for a different role, such as a phlebotomist in a community clinic or a booking co-ordinator in a hospital.

2. Decide the type of internship you want to pursue

When examining your CV, recruiters sometimes prefer you to have practical experience. A full-time on-site internship means it may not be possible for you to continue in your present income-earning job. In such cases, you may consider pursuing a virtual or remote internship.

Virtual or remote internships enable you to prescribe the hours and schedules that suit you best. If you accept a part-time or remote internship, you may continue to work with your current employer and do both jobs simultaneously. Remote internships also provide you opportunities to work with companies and professionals in other parts of the world.

3. Customise your CV

Update your CV so it is ready to submit with your application for an internship. To customise your CV, you can consider using certain words or phrases used in the job description. Make sure your CV provides details of the relevant and transferable skills you can bring to the company. If you find an internship, conduct some research to gain background information about the company and its culture before you attend the interview.

Related: How To Apply For An Internship (And What To Do After Applying)

4. Create a compelling cover letter

Your cover letter helps convey to the employers your skills and educational background that makes you suitable for the internship. You might explain that your choice to secure an internship is because you want to gain the required experience prior to embarking on a new career. This shows your diligence in preparing for the new role and that you are eager to learn and further develop as a professional.

5. Prepare for your interview

As internships are suitable for students or freshers, an interviewer may require convincing that you are a better prospect than a student they may hire. As a career-changer, you have an advantage over a student applicant, as you already have work experience and have developed a creditable work history. Interviewers may ask why you are applying for this particular internship and if you can relocate for work.

Additional Tips To Prepare For An Internship Interview

Here are some tips to help you impress your interviewer:

Know your worth

Believe in yourself and recognise your worth. Explain how your work experience can help you transition to a new career. Give examples of how you resolved an issue or managed a challenging project.

Provide evidence

Take academic and training certificates to your interview. Take your portfolio or samples of your work to show the interviewer your standard of work. If you do not have such samples, perhaps because you are applying for a totally unrelated role, create something to show your capabilities. For instance, if you are aiming for a new career in graphic design, you can create some fictitious adverts or logos to show your proficiency.

Acknowledge your weaknesses

If you are switching careers, you are unlikely to meet all the criteria for the new role. Acknowledge any drawbacks in your experience or skills, but put an emphasis on your willingness to learn and point out how your transferable skills and an internship can help be efficient in the role. This shows you are ready for the challenges the position or industry may offer.

Explain your reasons for making a career change

Give a brief and informative explanation for your career change. Consider maintaining a cordial tone while talking about your current or previous employers to create a positive impression on your potential employers. You may cite reasons like the necessity of achieving work-life balance or better-earning prospects. Focus on your enthusiasm for the new role and your future career with this company.

Pros And Cons Of An Internship

Internships have both advantages and disadvantages. One advantage is that you get on-the-job training. This is helpful if you are changing your career as it can build on the experience you already have, albeit on a different career path. Though many internships can lead to job offers, you can add your internship to your CV to add more value to it when you apply for jobs. Some remote internships may enable you to choose a schedule that allows you to continue in your current job.

Despite its advantages, career change internships may also have some difficulties for working professionals. For instance, doing an internship may limit your career options, meaning it may not help you be eligible for several other jobs. Besides this, some of these internships may not always match the current salary of professionals, which can also be a drawback for them.

What Is The Difference Between An Internship And An Apprenticeship?

Apprenticeship programmes are typically full-time, where a trainee works within a business for a year or more. Most apprenticeships involve trade jobs and focus on the skills required to fulfil a specific role. An internship period is usually shorter than that of an apprenticeship. Internships focus more on experience, either at entry-level or to supplement existing experience to facilitate a switch from one career to another.

Related: How To Change Careers

What Does An Intern Do?

As an intern, your daily routine varies depending on the role and its industry sector. You may receive detailed instructions from your supervisor or you may learn from an experienced colleague. The company may also expect you to complete specific tasks, which can include:

Job shadowing

You may start your internship by shadowing an experienced colleague. This means watching and learning about day-to-day tasks and procedures from that professional. You might also perform certain tasks under their supervision.

Assisting senior-level employees

You may assist other senior-level employees with daily tasks at the company regularly, which can help you gain essential work exposure. These range from performing clerical or general administration tasks to organising company events and updating the company's social media pages. You might also work on projects that are directly relevant to the role you are pursuing.

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