Does Intern Count as Work Experience: Explained In Details


Career Consultant & Blog Writer

Published: November 30, 2023

Yes, an internship does count as work experience. While the debate exists on whether internships are equivalent to traditional work experiences, they undeniably contribute to an individual’s professional growth and skill development. Including internships on a resume can showcase practical knowledge and enhance employability.

Internships have become a cornerstone of career development, offering individuals a chance to gain practical insights into their chosen fields. The ongoing debate centers around whether “Does intern count as work experience?”, and this article aims to dissect the various aspects of this argument.

Internship vs. Work Experience

Distinguishing Characteristics

Internships and work experiences share similarities, such as the opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world scenarios. However, they differ in terms of structure, duration, and expectations.

Learning Opportunities in Internships

Internships are often seen as learning experiences, allowing individuals to explore different aspects of a profession. This learning-centric approach can set internships apart from traditional work experiences.

Skill Development in Work Experience

On the other hand, work experiences may focus more on utilizing existing skills, with less emphasis on training and mentorship. Professionals often engage in work experiences to apply their expertise directly.

The Debate: Does Internship Count as Work Experience?

Does Intern Count as Work Experience

The answer to this question varies depending on whom you ask. Different industries and sectors have contrasting views on whether an internship can be equated to formal work experience.

Industry Perspectives

Some industries value internship experiences, considering them crucial for understanding the dynamics of the field. Others may prioritize formal work experiences, emphasizing a proven track record.

Resume Considerations

Crafting a compelling resume often involves a strategic choice of emphasizing internships or work experiences based on the targeted job. The perceived relevance to the position plays a significant role in this decision.

Varied Definitions Across Sectors

The definition of work experience itself can vary across sectors. In some professions, any practical engagement, including internships, is seen as valuable experience. In contrast, other sectors may prioritize formal employment.

Benefits of Internships as Work Experience

Does Intern Count as Work Experience

Despite the ongoing debate, internships offer several benefits that contribute to an individual’s overall professional growth.

1. Skill Acquisition

Internships provide a platform for acquiring new skills and honing existing ones. The immersive learning environment allows individuals to develop a diverse skill set.

2. Networking Opportunities

Internships often open doors to valuable networking opportunities. Building connections within the industry can be as crucial as the skills gained during the internship.

3. Exposure to Real-World Scenarios

Internships expose individuals to real-world scenarios, helping them understand the practical challenges and dynamics of their chosen field.

Challenges and Criticisms

While internships offer significant advantages, they are not without challenges and criticisms.

1. Limited Duration

One common criticism is the limited duration of internships. Employers may question the depth of experience gained during a relatively short period.

2. Unpaid Internships

The prevalence of unpaid internships raises concerns about accessibility and equity. Unpaid opportunities may exclude individuals who cannot afford to work without financial compensation.

3. Varied Quality of Internship Programs

Not all internships are created equal. The quality of the internship program can significantly impact the value of the experience gained.

Maximizing Internship Experience

Does Intern Count as Work Experience

To ensure internships are viewed as valuable work experiences, individuals can take proactive steps.

Taking Initiative

Interns who actively seek opportunities to contribute and take initiative to demonstrate their commitment to the role.

Seeking Mentorship

Establishing mentor-mentee relationships during internships can provide guidance and enhance the overall learning experience.

Showcasing Achievements

Effectively communicating achievements and contributions made during an internship is essential when highlighting this experience on a resume.

Employer Expectations

Understanding employer expectations is crucial when positioning internship experiences.

Perception of Internship Experience

Some employers view internships positively, recognizing the potential for interns to bring fresh perspectives and enthusiasm to the workplace.

Bridging the Experience Gap

Internships can serve as a bridge, helping individuals gain the experience needed to qualify for more advanced roles.

Strategies for Highlighting Internship Experience

Does Intern Count as Work Experience

Effectively showcasing internship experiences is crucial for maximizing their impact on career development.

1. Crafting a Compelling Resume

Tailoring resumes to emphasize relevant internship experiences can capture the attention of potential employers.

2. Navigating Job Interviews

During job interviews, articulating the skills and insights gained from internships can set candidates apart.

3. Leveraging Transferable Skills

Identifying and highlighting transferable skills gained during internships is key to demonstrating their broader applicability.

4. Expert Opinions

To provide a well-rounded perspective, it’s essential to consider expert opinions on the matter.

5. HR Specialists’ Viewpoints

Human resource specialists often have insights into how internship experiences are perceived in the hiring process.

6. Career Coaches’ Advice

Career coaches can offer guidance on leveraging internship experiences for career advancement.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, the debate on whether internships count as work experience lacks a one-size-fits-all answer. The value of internships depends on various factors, including industry norms, individual achievements, and the quality of the internship program. Rather than viewing internships and work experiences as mutually exclusive, individuals should adopt a holistic approach to present a comprehensive professional narrative.

FAQs With Answers About Does Intern Count as Work Experience

What is the experience level of an intern?

The experience level of an intern varies, as interns are typically individuals gaining practical experience in a specific field. Interns may range from entry-level students to individuals transitioning to a new career. The key is the opportunity to learn and apply theoretical knowledge in a real-world setting.

Does internship count as work experience in Australia?

Yes, in Australia, internships are generally considered a form of work experience. Including relevant internships on your resume can be valuable when applying for jobs, as they demonstrate practical skills and a proactive approach to learning.

How do you put internship experience on a resume?

When including internship experience on a resume, follow these steps:
Create a “Work Experience” or “Professional Experience” section.
List the internship position, company name, location, and dates.
Provide a brief description of the role and key responsibilities.
Highlight specific achievements, skills acquired, and projects undertaken during the internship.