The long vacation (summer holiday) is here already. Many parents and their teens and young adults need to figure out how best to utilize this break. What a very unusual academic year it’s been with the huge changes; and them having been home and online for three months already! Yes there is a need to unwind, rest and rejuvenate. But, it is also a good time to take advantage of the close to 2 months or more at your child’s disposal. Take this time to improve skills, build new ones and to learn to earn.
The long vacation where used appropriately can be a major career opportunity as well as an investment in their talent. Below are some productive things to gain from an internship during the long vacation.
Grades and work experience
From a very young age, students are trained and expected to get the best grades possible. However, the truth is that having good grades doesn’t necessarily translate into a job or make you a great employee. Employers don’t consider academic grades as the be all and end all for candidates anymore. Of course, your ‘A’ grades will win you accolades (particularly from Nigerian parents). However, employers look for work experience in addition to exam or coursework grades in an array of extracurricular activities and interests when searching for top candidates. An internship often gives students an edge. Use the long vacation to gather some work experience.
Get a feel for the workplace
In the classroom, your focus has been largely on the theoretical. Nothing compares to living the actual experience. It is on the job that you can truly hone some professional skills. You gain hands-on real-world experience outside the classroom. You can use the long vacation as a practical period. Theory is important but it comes alive when you get an opportunity to put that knowledge to practice.
You will know what don’t you like
At the end of an internship experience, you should have a fair idea of the sort of job or career that you might want to pursue. You should also have an idea of what you absolutely don’t like. This helps you to hone in on your strengths and gives you a better chance of not accepting an unsuitable job if there are alternatives.
Get a foot in the door
An internship can lead to a full-time job at your host company. If you have left a great impression that you are hardworking, committed, intelligent and capable; you are certainly in a more competitive position to be considered. You may be given more consideration than even those with far superior grades since your bosses have already gotten familiar with your work ethic during the long vacation period. Internships have been described as an “audition in disguise”. An ideal way for both employer and intern to test the waters for a short time before committing to it fully. If you’ve impressed them, you’ll probably make the final list.
Is this the right path for you?
So many young people embark on a path only to find -after considerable time and expense- that they do not wish to pursue that direction. It’s best to know as early as possible. An internship usually lasts for about 3 – 6 months. This is a great opportunity to test out a job or career path. It gives enough time to learn whether or not it is a good fit without a long- term commitment. If you have not yet decided which direction to go, try various sectors during each vacation. Different careers demand varying skill sets. This way, you get a wide range of experience under your belt. You can begin to narrow down your choices as it highlights your strengths and where you tend to struggle.
Apart from the formal roles, there are numerous other opportunities to consider. From volunteering and community service, helping at a summer camp, waiting tables in a restaurant, sales clerk at a local store. This is also an ideal time to consider setting up and running your own business, which impresses employers no end.
Relevant work experience
Ideally, an internship you are choosing should be related to the field that you wish to pursue. If you already have an idea of the path that you wish to pursue, select a firm in that field. This will help equip you to prepare for future interviews and direction by gaining invaluable industry knowledge. Employers prefer to choose candidates that have some experience that is relevant to the position they are actually hiring for. This puts you up on the learning curve and helps you settle into a new role with ease.
Sadly, you often find that when you look for a job, it’s not only what you know, it’s also who you know. Professional connections are among the most valuable networks that you can have in your life. Even if you are not retained for a full-time position, the networks that you build from the stint can be invaluable. They are helpful for providing mentoring and support as you grow, or for career advice. Also for references or recommendations for your next job. Find a mentor, but remember that a senior colleague will take an interest in an interested, committed, hardworking intern and not someone that it always late, unresponsive, and adds little or no value.
Should you work for free?
Naturally, some students might have to turn down an excellent but unpaid internship
opportunity simply because they cannot afford to work for absolutely nothing. This significantly limits available opportunities. As far as possible, try not to let money be the deciding factor when you are thinking of interning. Gaining useful experience during the long vacation should be your goal for the value it will bring to your resume and your personal life. See it as an investment if you can.
Working from the safety of your home
Many internships will be virtual given the important social distancing protocols. In this new way of work, self-discipline and responsiveness will be even more important than ever. Virtual internships offer diverse possibilities, but some positions lend themselves to remote work better than others. Roles such as social media, content creation, graphics design, etc. provide a great fit for virtual interns who want work experience without having to work from an office. A virtual internship will provide your child with an opportunity to be fully immersed in a professional experience all from the safety of your home.
One of the great benefits of interning is learning to earn and managing your own money. Hard work builds a sense of frugality. When the money comes out of your own pocket, from your own hard work, you tend to be more selective about purchases. You are less likely to spend it frivolously, as you might tend to do when it is doled out by generous parents.
Time is a fundamental ingredient of successful investing as funds set aside have time to appreciate in value. This presents a wonderful opportunity to set aside at least part of your income and begin the journey to financial independence. Mutual funds are ideal for small savers with entry as low as N5,000. The key is to be consistent and to think long-term.
Going to work every day is usually the first step to financial responsibility. It is not the amount of money your child earns, but the lessons learned that count. The sense of independence and accomplishment provides a child with a solid foundation for their development. When they leave home, you can be confident that they can step out into the world and face a bright future.
Check out our Summer Camp Guide 2020
Nimi Akinkugbe has extensive experience in private wealth management. She seeks to empower people regarding their finances and offers frank, practical insights to create a greater awareness and understanding of personal finance.
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