For those who have recently graduated and/or are currently looking for a job, the experiences that you have in your chosen field of analytics are top of mind. You don’t have to be a veteran job searcher to know that an experience-rich CV is a gateway to landing the job of your dreams. Your proven know-how in the application of your skills in data analysis is what will set you apart from other candidates. It’s these experiences that will jump off the page of your resume and provide you with that much-needed competitive edge.
If you have decided to pursue a career in analytics, an internship could be a good pathway forward. It’s also helpful if you are just testing the waters. It can aid in your decision as to whether you want to pursue such a field and if so, where to begin the journey.
It’s important to learn everything there is to know about the different types of internships, the advantages, minuses, and how to find the right one.
If you are new to the job search and having a difficult time finding any form of employment in the field of data analytics, then an internship could be a good stepping stone. According to a recent study, 70 percent of interns receive a job offer from the company in which they interned.
The benefit of spending time in a real-life setting is the affirmation that this is (or is not) the right career path to begin or continue your journey. You will learn about a wide range of job roles within the world of data analysis. For this reason alone, the experience of an internship can be marked as one of opportunity.
If you are still in school, then you are ahead of the game. You are smartly balancing what you will learn from your classroom studies with on-the-job training. The perk of still being in an educational environment is that you can and should use the resources that are being offered in and around you. Professors and teachers may be aware of on-the-job training opportunities in your area. Speak up! Be sure to take advantage of what is currently being promoted on your college campus or through your advisors.
Networking is an important part of your long-term career development. You should start mastering the art of making connections as early as high school. If you haven’t reached out, it’s never too late to start. Today can mark your day one. And don’t just “collect” contacts. Reach out to them. Send them an email a couple of times a year and check-in. It’s as simple as saying “hello, how are you doing? I am currently busy with x, y, and z, and just wanted to stay in touch.”
Learning on the Job
Of all the ways to get educated, few would argue that hands-on experience is the single best method of learning. What better way to master a new skill than to experience a “day in the life.” In the 17th century, this was referred to as apprenticing.
We now see this “old-time” approach to learning being adopted in higher ed settings. In just the past couple of decades, there has been an influx in co-ops at every type of college and university. Even 30 years ago, advanced education was confined to the classroom. In this modern world, we are seeing job training as an integral part of higher learning.
Internship: This is a position for a trainee or student, paid or unpaid, with the end goal to gain work experience. It may help to satisfy a requirement for qualification. At the very least, it is a good resume builder. Internships take place in all types of industries. Check out internships across the US.
Apprenticeship: The definition of this word has evolved over the past three hundred years. Nowadays, it refers to a course of training that takes place on the job or at the workplace. It may consist of basic training for new entrants into the job. The trainee will acquire real-world experience through working directly with one who is skilled in a given area. Check out the apprenticeships in your area.
Cooperative work experience (CWE): Trending across college campuses, this is a program in which students have the chance to combine their formal learning with practical work experience(s). It helps new entrants to the marketplace to build upon skills and be better positioned for career advancement.
Job shadowing: Another form of job training that takes place at the workplace, this is also referred to as an “externship.” This is where an employee shadows a colleague who has more experience. It allows for a “day in the life” of a knowledgeable professional. You can gauge what it takes to excel in this type of job with exposure day in and day out.
Service learning: This educational approach combines classroom theory with real-life scenarios. The best part is that it is all for a good cause. With service learning, students take what they have learned in the classroom setting and put that knowledge to practice by using it in a non-profit organization. It is the smart path to solidify your understanding of a business concept.
Credit for prior learning (CPL): It’s also worth investigating if you can earn college credit(s) for an internship.
Many, understandably, wonder whether they will get paid as an intern. The answer is “it depends.”
Paid internships: Internships, even when paid, are oftentimes modest in pay. They can be in the form of an hourly wage or a stipend. They may be part-time over the school year or full-time in the summer. The duration ranges, from a couple of months to a year or two. You don’t have to search hard to find these opportunities. They are advertised on all of the major job search sites. Go to LinkedIn, Indeed, and Internships.
Non-paid internships: These are obviously easier to get than a paid internship. It allows you to get valuable experience and insight. Think of it as training that you don’t have to pay for. You can also view it as an inexpensive way to test the waters. Before embarking on a new educational or career path, you can gain on-the-job know-how which may help save you money and time down the road. An internship doesn’t have to come with a salary to be worth something tangible. There are all kinds of creative ways that organizations can “pay you back.” There could be course credit, paid meals, or housing perks.
We all want to get paid for our time. If you are in school and juggling family and/or work, it may be difficult to fit in a project that doesn’t yield direct compensation. It’s important to step back and weigh the pros and cons. This will help you to stay focused on the big picture. An internship or any related job training can pay out in the long term.
The advice here is to investigate your options. Be clear as to what the internship entails and work to find one that has been well vetted.
A Day in the Life of an Intern
One of the pluses to serving as an intern in the realm of analytics is exposure to inter-connected departments. You may work in and around Marketing, Product, IT, Research, or any other workgroup. This allows you to experience the inner working of your role in analytics and other branches as well. For example, you may be able to put your hard skills to the test through coding or the use of Business Intelligence (BI) tools. Or you may get to dig deep into the data with A/B testing, interpretation of results, or data cleansing.
As an intern you get the opportunity to see what it is like to work in corporate America. You will be exposed to an array of tools. These may include email correspondences, meetings, and collaboration with peers. Other departments may seek your assistance in dashboard building and the creation and monitoring of KPIs.
A great way to prove your worth is to help with tasks that are not as popular, like data cleansing and technical writing. Whether you observe any number of key functions, from troubleshooting to database marketing, you will have the chance to take what you have learned from your studies, and see how these fit into businesses today.
The structure of an internship really varies. Generally speaking, they are set up much in the same way that a job is, minus the overtime. As mentioned previously, the span of time can also differ. However, more often than not, it is a set number of hours, on a part-time or full-time basis. These parameters should be delineated in the job listing and certainly flushed out in the early phase of the interview.
You should have a mentor to guide you, explain your assignment(s), and serve as the person to whom you may consult with questions or concerns. An intern is also surrounded by peers to listen in on strategies. It’s a great chance to get a feel for being a member of a work team.
How to Find an Internship
You may have heard that getting your first job is the most difficult. Whether seeking a job or an internship, the larger the pool, the greater your success. There is a plethora of internship postings online.
You may consider posting a message in a community app like nextdoor. This could be a great way to get connected to an opportunity. It may also facilitate in getting the “inside scoop” on the company that you are researching.
You may be surprised to learn that there is a government plan known as the On-the-Job Training (OJT) program. It is funded through what’s known as the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The WIOA incentivizes companies to hire and train skilled workers. Thanks to this federal initiative, an organization can be reimbursed up to 50 percent of the costs for its efforts.
Like the job search process, the best way to land a job is through networking and word-of-mouth. Be vocal. Tell everyone you know that you are looking for a good internship. Since internships are short-term, you might be able to take over from a friend-of-a-friend who is currently exiting. This would also validate that it is a “good” internship, i.e., one that comes highly recommended.
You apply to an internship much in the same way that you do a job. However, there is one element of an application for an internship that is different from that of an application for a job. You will be asked to submit a few character references. This may in the form of a letter with a follow-up by phone. Wherever you are in the journey, start gathering references.
Just like a job, a well-presented resume is vital. Include the following:
- Volunteer work
- Hard skills
- Soft skills
- Job experience
Quite amazingly 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every single day. You don’t have to be a mathematician to recognize that this is a huge amount of data that calls to be extracted, managed, and analyzed. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of analytics is expected to grow 25 percent from 2019 to 2029. Look at a guide in business and you will note that the occupation of data analysis is exploding.
Whether you choose any kind of internship or a job right out of the gate, be strategic in your decision-making. As an expert in data, the world is your oyster and much opportunity lies on the horizon. Enjoy the process and view every experience as part of your career training.