The dividing line between unpaid work experience and
salaried employment has become increasingly fuzzy in recent years
Employers are increasingly expecting those who want to work for them
to complete internships, cadetships or graduate programs. But what
should you expect and how should you apply?
An internship is what used to be called work experience – providing
free labour in order to get some real-world experience. Volunteering
to work for free, often for prolonged periods of time, has now become
the most common way of getting a foot in the door for those seeking to
enter ‘glamour' industries.
Internships most commonly involve working part-time while completing
your studies or working full-time once you've graduated. You can apply
for an internship at any time, but many do so at the beginning of the
year when they have either finished their studies or know their study
timetable for the upcoming year.
Cadetships are the white-collar equivalent of apprenticeships. Cadets
receive a wage, but it's generally small, reflecting their limited
skill set. Corporations and government departments typically advertise
cadetships around February and March and, in some cases, again around
July. Always check the website of the organisation you're interested
in working for to establish exactly what its cadetship application
opening and closing dates are.
Gradate positions usually involve a reasonable salary (though less
than what you'll hopefully earn later on). They are typically offered
by larger corporations or government departments to TAFE NSW or university
graduates and involve working in a variety of different areas to gain
a broad understanding of how an organisation functions.
Federal government agencies advertise graduate employment
opportunities between February and June. As with cadetships,
corporations typically accept applications around the early part and
middle of the year but, once again, you'll need to check with the
organisation in question to find out their cut-off dates.
The dividing line between unpaid work experience and salaried
employment has become increasingly fuzzy in recent years. Whether it's
an internship, cadetship or graduate position, it's wise to do some
research and determine both what an organisation can offer and what it
will expect before committing to anything.