Interning is a great way to gain valuable knowledge of the STEM industry, and it could also help you get a foot in the door of your dream company. In fact, recent statistics show that 53% of internships result in a job offer. But is an internship really right for you? And what can you actually expect to gain from one?
To find out we spoke to interns at Arm, an international software and semiconductor company based in the UK. Arm is a company that prides itself on its culture and building a positive working environment for its employees all over the world. Their careers page on their website lists three core beliefs: "We, not I", "Passion for progress" and "Be your brilliant self".
Do their interns agree? And what have they learned from their experience so far?
Mia Pan, who started interning in Arm's Beijing office in February 2017, says that her line manager is her favourite thing about the company: "I [am] so lucky to have her being my mentor, both mentally and in [the] working environment," she says. "We've talked about everything from my job, future career, campus life."
When you take on an internship at a company, especially if it’s just for a short period of time, you likely worry you’ll be restricted to making coffees and photocopies and socialising only with the other interns. At Arm, this is not the case. Mia insists that it's important to feel valued as an intern, no matter how big or small your contribution. For Mia, being offered the same level of perks as full time employees and always being listened to has helped her feel like part of the team. Her experiences reflect Arm’s focus on inclusion and maintaining a collaborative, open workplace culture, where everyone is encouraged to take on responsibility and to contribute. As long as your internship offers these things, "you will never be the outsider," she says.
Mark Riley is an intern in Arm's Data Science team and says one of the best things about interning is the wide variety of people you get to meet. As Mark has found, challenging yourself to think outside of the box and bring ideas and enthusiasm to a team, even when you’re just starting out as an intern, is vital. Doing so certainly makes you more likely to be in the half of interns who receive job offers at the end of their time with a company.
Dennis Wildmark, an intern at Arm based in Lund, Sweden, says that it's what you take away from an internship that matters most: "A key lesson I have learned is that nothing is impossible as long as you set your mind to it and work hard for it." Dennis echoes Mia’s experiences of really feeling involved and challenged across his time as an intern. He mentions undertaking a number of different projects and says: "my favourite thing about Arm is that you get to work with so many different things, from hardware to software and testing, which has taught me a lot."
Annarito Ranco, an intern also working for Arm in Lund, simply says the most important thing she's learned interning is how to manage unexpected situations.
If you’re considering a career path in STEM but aren’t 100% sure what would suit you best, an internship like the one Annarito has undertaken can be really useful to shed light on what it’s really like to work in an industry day-to-day.
How did they find out about their internship?
Arvind, an intern in Arm's Bangalore office says his university made him aware of the opportunity; Annarito was searching for an early careers opportunity directly on company websites when she came across Arm's summer intern program.
Whether you’re at university and have your careers service to help you, or you’ve just graduated and are still figuring out your next move, it’s crucial to approach searching and applying for internships just as you would with jobs. Research your industry, check the websites of companies you’re interested in and sign up for relevant job boards so you don’t miss out on opportunities. And don’t be afraid to be selective, find an internship that offers you real responsibility and scope for personal and professional growth – clearly, from speaking with Arm’s interns, such opportunities do exist.
Lastly, we asked the interns what challenges they think face the STEM industry when it comes to hiring the next generation.
Of the interns who responded, they seemed to agree that companies are desperate for more and better graduates. Which could be read as good news if you have just graduated with a STEM degree.
Arvind says a problem facing the industry at the moment is the ability to find graduates with the right knowledge base. "For STEM employers in India and specifically focusing on fresh graduate engineers, I feel the biggest challenge is acquiring talent who have the prerequisite knowledge base and software tool skills," he argues. "Despite the huge number of graduating engineers in the country, this is a problem that exists."
All the interns we spoke with have shown – especially if you’re looking to get into a STEM field – the opportunities really are there, and there’s a lot to be gained from an internship like the ones on offer at Arm. So, it’s crucial to focus on showing you have the knowledge base, skills and passion required to succeed when it comes to applying by showcasing what makes your combination of qualifications and experiences unique.