Internship is a system of on-the-job training for white-collar jobs, similar to an apprenticeship. Interns are usually college or university students, but they can also be high school students or post graduate adults seeking skills for a new career. They may also be as young as middle school or in some cases elementary students. Student internships provide opportunities for students to gain experience in their field, determine if they have an interest in a particular career, create a network of contacts, or gain school credit. Internships provide employers with cheap or free labor for (typically) low-level tasks. Some interns find permanent, paid employment with the companies in which they interned. Their value to the company may be increased by the fact that they need little to no training.
An internship may be paid, unpaid or partially paid (in the form of a stipend). Paid internships are most common in the medical, architecture, science, engineering, law, business (especially accounting and finance), technology and advertising fields. Internships in non-profit organizations such as charities and think tanks are often unpaid, volunteer positions. Internships may be part-time or full-time - typically they are part-time during the university year and full-time in the summer. They usually last 6–12 weeks, but can be shorter or longer, depending on the company involved. The act of job shadowing may also constitute interning.
Internship positions are available from businesses, government departments, non-profit groups and organizations. Due to strict labour laws, European internships are mostly unpaid, although they are still popular among non-Europeans in order to gain international exposure on one's résumé and for foreign language improvement.
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